Eatonville: A Place To Get Lost
You know that saying “Not All Who Wander Are Lost “? Well, It’s true.
I’m a pretty good planner and read trip reports and maps prior to a hike, but sometimes I still get lost. Thankfully those lost moments have been some of the best experiences in the outdoors.
A couple of weeks ago, my plan was to hike Mashel Falls in the Charles L. Pack Experimental Forest (CLP) just outside of Olympia. While getting there was easy, there were several trails that intermingled and of course, my friend and I missed the Mashel Falls trailhead and started up towards Hugo Peak.
The CLP Experimental Forest is a beautiful 4,300 acres of working forestland in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. In 1926, conservationist Charles Lathrop Pack bequeathed a cash gift to the University of Washington’s College of Forest Resources to purchase 334 acres of forestland to be used for research. It served as a forested classroom for over 80 years.
Since the creation of the Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest in 2004, the mission of the center is to discover, teach, demonstrate concepts of sustainable forestry, and more.
It was a Tuesday morning with a 90% chance of rain and a wind storm advisory. With no one else on the trails, it made for a peaceful meandering through the forest. The cracking tree branches, the squeaking giant Douglas Firs, and the leaves rustling in the wind felt like an ominous lullaby.
It was a steady climb through trails and service roads. About three miles in was the Trail of the Giants. Now we found ourselves hiking deep brush and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Once again we lost sight of the trail for a short while, but finally found a link that led us back up to yet another service road.
After a nice 6.5 miles of wandering. it started to rain, so we went into town for our usual post-hike grub. We'd seen the Bigfoot Tavern on the initial drive through and came back for some cold beers after we dined on elk burgers at the Pour House Pub just across the street.
A community of approximately 3,000 residents, Eatonville certainly has charm. Rinky-dink pubs are the perfect place to meet the locals and the Bigfoot Tavern is definitely the local watering hole where everyone knows your name.
A couple of beers later, we continued our explorations to an antique store. One of the cashier’s directed us to an even bigger and well -known antique store owned by the grandson of Thomas Van Eaton, the founder of Eatonville.
Founding Family Antiques is owned by Terry and Sharon Van Eaton. With over 5,000 sq. ft of collectibles, there are lots of historical treasures and some very rare finds that you’d only see in a small town like Eatonville.
Terry and Sharon saw us rummaging around and came out to greet us. Terry was kind enough to give us a short tour of the space. They were such a delightful couple and we were tickled pink to have met family members of a town’s Founding Father.
As we drove out, we looked beyond the trees and through the clouds and envisioned Mt. Rainier in all her glory. Thankfully, the artwork drawn by local school-aged kids and located outside the local pharmacy, gave us a better idea of just how close the town of Eatonville is to the majestic mountain.
These 'happy surprises' are the things that drive and feed my need to adventure.
We’re returning to Eatonville to explore the town a little more and finally make that hike to Mashel Falls, but for now, we’ll enjoy the memories.
Founding Family Antiques hours:
April-October, Monday - Saturday 10AM - 6PM
November-March, Friday-Saturday 10AM - 6PM (or by appointment)