Lower Falls on the Lewis River is a place full of happy childhood memories. Where as most people who go there are most familiar with this viewpoint and the nearby campground, I remember a time this campground was brand new and small, and very few people came this way. 90 road did not go all the way through back then, and upriver aways there was another campground that is now inaccessible by car. The old Sheep Bridge Camp was our family hangout. Mom was fond of saying that I camped there even BEFORE I was born. To get to this falls we would have to climb and wade downriver on the other side, and it could only really be done safely in lower water times. As an adolescent I was already wading across this river in many places, with a walking stick bracing me against the rugged current, and water up to my chest. I proudly followed my Daddy everywhere, even places Mom did not go herself. Of course my Mom was 45 when I was born, and now that I am dealing with arthritis myself I understand better why she did not rush into the icy water as quickly as I did! Dad had it made… he just wore his chest waders.
Happy days, peaceful nights… sometimes we would camp for a couple of weeks at a time up in this paradise. More often we hiked upriver to the Middle Falls, or across the old Sheep Bridge (before the ends were pulled off for supposed safety considerations), up the trail to the Lewis River trail to the Upper Falls. When the 90 road started getting built on through to connect the Lower Falls with the 23 road to make a big loop, it tore up this gorgeous deep forest trail, so we walked up the road part way and then down the hill through the trees to Lower Falls. One time several of us found our way through the woods above the Upper Falls and discovered yet another waterfall which we simply dubbed the “Upper Upper Falls”. We used a rope to climb down to the river to fish. Dad and I wandered downriver to stand in the middle of the river leaning on the huge rock that has been at the top of Upper Falls for many years, where we could look over this lovely waterfall from the top, for the first time. Things sure looked different from that point of view.
As the years went on, and my brothers and sisters had child after child, the camps grew bigger and bigger, until there would be wonderful times when the campground was full of the Black and Kyte families, and kids with bikes made trails through the woods and campground. I miss those days so much… when our home was on the Lewis.