Wallace Falls and Wallace Lake

Dan Sedlacek

It’s been 16 months since the official founding of Uphill Designs Co. I like to think that the ‘Co’ in our name stands for ‘Collective, because that’s what we really are - a small collective of motivated experience-seekers based in the Pacific Northwest. We hike, of course, but we also rock climb, mountain bike, practice yoga and trail run. With the onset of a new year and a new line of products we needed a way to share who we are with others. We created Uphill Adventures to capture, refine, and propel the need to explore into a creative and communal outlet. Uphill Adventures is a meetup group with at least one get together per month, loosely sponsored by the company and 100% sponsored by our passion for the best hikes in Western Washington and the greater PNW.

These hikes are all levels, there’s a challenge for the seasoned hiker or the newcomer who’s never set foot on a trail. The Facebook group is for pre-hike logistics (We use the Washington Trail Association website for most of our info), ride-sharing, and post-hike picture posting. Our hikes will include available prototype gear to test and homebaked goodies. For our first adventure we set our sights on Wallace Lake at Wallace Falls State Park. We battled with North Cascades Ski traffic and arrived just after 9 at the trailhead and gathered our group of 8 hikers and 1 excited puppy.

Unsurprisingly several people had hiked in the area and we made quick adjustments to the plan. We all agreed to check out the 3 falls first and then head to the lake if we had time, energy, and the weather held. At that point there was a thick fog mixed with a light drizzle, a typical PNW Saturday. I have to admit, waterfalls are not always my favorite. I was spoiled growing up hiking in the Olympics and Cascades, seeing the best falls the area has to offer. Often my favorite views are ones not coveted by others while waterfalls blend together. The Wallace Falls had character, however, roaring and churning against a stunning backdrop of verdant cedars and swirling mist. It was comforting taking in a scene thousands of years old, knowing it will replay for countless more.

I don’t know if it’s because we looked adventurous, capable, or something else entirely, but a ranger had singled out our group at the trailhead and let us in on the fact that the active logging area was accessible, since they were dormant for the weekend. After 4.5 miles of uphill, and bouts of rain and snow, the group was still unanimous about pressing on to the lake, so we ducked under the warning signs and entered the logging area. I love getting behind the scenes shots, where the views are less groomed, the trail less prepared. The old railroad grade was littered with industrial equipment and offcast branches of forest giants. We wove our way around gas cans, spare tires as tall as us, and endless markings of orange tape. It was not a pretty sight, but it is part of the ecosystem here and in many of Washington’s beautiful protected areas. Nowadays the logging industry at least tries to respect the land they leave behind.

When we exited the logging area and closed in on the lake, I was excited to find the fog returning. As someone fairly new to capturing moments with a lens, I’ve come across two things that make my pictures better - fog and snow. It’s like photography on easy mode. We laid out the meats, cheese, crackers, cookies, and chocolate-covered almonds we’d brought for the group and had a great meal. At some point we managed to snap a few product shots as well.

After 11+ miles of fun hiking, crazy weather, and getting to know each other, we returned to the parking lot. It was obvious from the first conversations that broke out to the excited attitude that remained even at the end that this is where it’s really at. We love handcrafting gear and we’ve finally found the outlet that helps us share our passion and build a community.

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