The hike to comet falls is pretty tough, especially if you're carrying a 4x5 system in addition to extra layers, rain gear, and survival gear.
When we began the hike, it was pleasantly warm, and the clouds ere breaking up. It's about a half mile to the first crossing over Van Trump Creek, right above Christine Falls. After that, the trail starts climbing, and really doesn't stop. The trail follows the creek, which has cut itself a nice, deep channel to rush through. There are quite a few cascades and waterfalls along the route; it reminded me of the White Oak Canyon hike in the Shenandoah National Park... only with bigger trees, more wildflowers, taller waterfalls, and more water flowing through the creek.
There were avalanche lily, tiger lily, shooting stars, beargrass, and even some Indian paintbrush along the route.
And the falls themselves, pictured above, were well worth the trip.
We didn't stop there, of course; we continued on up to Van Trump Park. Past the falls, the trail is even steeper, and once in Van Trump Park, it's steeper still.
But even so, Van Trump is worth the visit... it's like Paradise Meadow, but with fewer people; most of the hikers we met turned back at the falls. The meadows of Van Trump were ablaze with wildflowers. We got a brief view of The Mountain when we arrived. It didn't last long, because the clouds rolled in and obscured it pretty quickly, before we reached an area where I could place some wildflowers in the foreground for a near-far shot.
We stopped atop a ridge in the park, with a commanding view of the mountains to the south and east. We couldn't see Mount Adams or Mount Saint Helens because of the clouds, but the views were still spectacular. As the weather closed in and the temperature dropped, we heated up some freeze-dried Thai food, just the thing for chilly weather. We were both glad that we had our extra layers with us.
We began the trip down in a light rain, that stayed with us for most of the remainder. By the time we reached the car, it was pretty chilly, and the cloud cover was solid. We had dinner in the Paradise Inn -- the food there is quite good, and the fireplaces are welcome, even in August :)
It was a long day, but it was also the best hike I have done yet. Already I am looking forward to doing it again, though I hope that the clouds reveal the summit long enough for me to get a good shot next time!