Updated: Jan 7
Friends of ours – who shall remain nameless (Chad and Shannon) – recently inquired about becoming contributing writers for the MustBringSnacks blog. With that, they submitted a sample of their work for our review and consideration. I figured our best course of action was to allow our readers to weigh in before we make any decisions, so I'm posting Chad and Shannon's hiking adventure blog post for your feedback.
Before you dive in, please allow me to provide some context:
Chad and Shannon live in Wisconsin. There are no mountains in or near Wisconsin. (I know this because I lived there for over 30 years.)
Throughout the past decade, Chad and Shannon have come out to Lake Tahoe to visit us a few times, and every time, we try to find the most challenging hikes in an effort to wear Chad out. (We have yet to succeed.)
On one of their visits to Tahoe, we wanted to show them a waterfall gushing from springtime snowmelt. Webber Falls to be exact. This required a belabored and lengthy "hike" on a snowy forest road where we lost our bearings and ended up turning around before it got too dark, never having found the falls. To put it bluntly, it was a lot of effort with no payoff. (Chad has never let us live that down.)
On that same visit, my husband took Chad and Shannon on a backcountry snowshoe adventure to show them Galena Falls, near Mt. Rose. Let's just say after a few hours of wandering in the Mt. Rose Wilderness, they lost their way, neglected to find the falls, and eventually, they had to call me to come pick them up along Hwy 431. (I knew better than to participate in this adventure.)
Lastly, it is probably safe to say that Chad is addicted to Diet Coke (and doesn't leave home without at least a case of it).
Without further adieu, I present to you, Must Bring Diet Coke:
Where no Sheck has Brought us Before
So, the wife had been bugging me for months to go on a hike to find the waterfalls at Willow River State Park, but with my work schedule, nothing ever seemed to work out. As fall rolled around and my work schedule relaxed, we decided we’d venture out that coming Saturday to find the waterfalls.
Looking at the weather the night before, we knew it might be raining the next day, but not until late morning, so we decided to get up early to start our trek to find the waterfalls. We woke up at 4:30 AM (well, Atlas woke us up to get fed), and I told Shannon it was foggy, so we ended up going back to bed. When we woke up at 6:30, most of the fog lifted, so we decided it was now or never to find the waterfalls.
We packed up our gear and Diet Coke, loaded the dogs, jumped into the GMC, and headed south to make the 9-mile drive to the park.
The morning was cloudy, cool, and damp, so we layered our clothing, knowing it could get warm with all the strenuous hiking, given the big changes in elevation we would encounter.
Upon arriving at the park, we slowly rolled past the ranger’s station so they could see our yearly pass, then headed to find a parking spot. Since it was still early (before 9 AM), we found ample parking in one of the lots close to the river and trailhead.
We started our trek, but had no idea which way to go or how far it was going to be (sounds like going to find waterfalls with our friends the Shecks).
As luck would have it, we stumbled upon a sign showing us where we were, which trails would lead to the waterfalls, the difficulty of each trail, and any steep terrain that lay ahead of us.
We were still concerned we may go off on the wrong trail, but were happy to see multiple signs along our trek that kept us going in the right direction to the falls. I wish they had signs like this out West so we could have found waterfalls there, too.
As we made our way to the falls, we encountered a few people and one of them had a Wisconsin sweatshirt on. We asked them where they were from, and they said Hudson, and we said we lived really close to that. Funny how you can travel 9 miles from your home and run into people that live so close to you. It really is a small world after all.
The trail went from an old, wide, paved asphalt path to a narrow gravel path, but nothing we couldn’t easily traverse.
The trail eventually traveled along the river leading us to our destination. Along the way, we spotted some wildlife. We saw mallards, Canadian geese, and these unidentified black ducks. (Spoiler Alert: I’ve since looked them up and they may be black scoters.)
We spotted many species of trees on our journey, with the highlight being this massive cottonwood tree.
It was already way past prime leaf viewing season, so not much to look at, but we did spot a tree with some orange berries still on it. According to our friend Bri, who writes a blog called “Must Bring Snacks,” she believes they are mountain ash berries.
As we kept walking, I said to my wife that this better not be a waste of our time and only find a little trickle of water flowing over a 2-foot drop.
So, we and the dogs slogged on down the trail to our destination hoping to not be disappointed. About 10 minutes later, we could hear the roar of the water, so we were confident there’d be no disappointment.
Around the corner and down a steep grade, we finally found the falls and they were magnificent! We were so excited to finally find a waterfall right here in our own backyard, after years of hiking out West and not finding any.
We stood on a huge boulder jetty to take a few pictures and to take in the sights, sounds, and coolness in the air. Our hike not only had waterfalls, but bridges, too! The bridge spanned the river at the lower part of the waterfall. Thankfully, the bridge was well maintained so we easily made our way across.
View from this amazing bridge.
There was a steep staircase on the other side of the bridge available to get a better view from up high. After climbing the 100+ steps that had about a 150’ elevation change from the river, both our lungs and thighs were burning. We hiked out onto the well-maintained cantilevered walkway to get a great view of the falls.
We also got a couple pictures of the last part of the trail we traveled on to get to the falls. The trail looks so far away from this high up. You can see Minnesota from here, too.
The sun decided to join us for a short time, but only after we took all our pictures and were ready to make our way back down the many steps, which left our legs feeling like jelly once we reached the bottom.
We traversed some rocky terrain to get down under the bridge for a closer look at the falls. I guess John Denver wasn’t full of shit, because it was a little rocky.
After a few last pictures, we decided we’d better start making our way back to the trailhead and our vehicle before it started to rain. On our way back, the trail became a one-way, leading us away from the river’s edge for most of the trek back to the trailhead. This pathway offered a wide, grass-covered path with a constant gradual ascent followed by an abrupt descent connecting it back to the original trail.
As we were approaching the parking lot, we spotted a white-tailed doe, her fawns, and a possible suitor buck. The doe kept a close eye on the possible suitor trying to get to the nearby woods unnoticed by him. She was successful.
We made it back to the vehicle without incident and then made our way home. The scenic trail and waterfall exceeded our expectations, and the unexpected bridge was icing on the cake. A great trip to finally see a waterfall.
Willow River State Park
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It's possible that satire falls into that same category. So, what do you think? Do we hire them?