Packwood, Washington, is Bigfoot country.
The whole White Pass corridor is, in fact. Years ago, a woman at the desk of the Seasons Motel in Morton, Washington, near the west end of Highway 12, told me that guests had flown all the way in from Germany for two weeks of searching for Bigfoot. It’s THAT much of a Bigfoot destination, my friend.
Packwood also happens to be among my favorite spots in the Pacific Northwest, so much so that I’m hesitant to even write about it and spill the secret. I like that, same as Lake Quinault, it sees nothing close to the kind of traffic that spots like Mount Rainier or Mount Saint Helens do.
But the Northwest Nomad has a mission, and that mission is to bring the best of the Pacific Northwest to you. The mission is the priority. It must be completed.
During my last visit to Packwood, I discovered two things equally fantastic: a Bigfoot story and Cliff Droppers, purveyor of one of the best damn burgers I’ve had in my entire life.
Not just in Packwood, friends. Not just in Washington, nor the Pacific Northwest, nor even the United States of America. It was one of the best damn burgers I've ever had, anywhere.
So if you don’t dig the Bigfoot or elite-level burgers, maybe you ought to mosey on out of here. Commies aren’t welcome on the Northwest Nomad’s page, anyway.
I was back there in Packwood to hike the Packwood Lake Trail, which may be the best non-snowshoeing winter trail I’ve ever found. Definitely top 10.
On that trip, I stopped in Cliff Droppers for a burger and got two great surprises.
First, the Bigfoot Story
I asked the young woman working the cash register if she’d seen any Bigfoot. This is my standard conversation-starter, regardless of where I am. Fortunately, on this particular day, I happened to actually be in Bigfoot country, so I got a response.
She told me she’d been out hiking with her husband when they came across monstrous, barefoot humanoid tracks in the show. Her husband she was a very large man, she told me, and his boots were dwarfed by the size of those tracks.
Now, what’s more interesting is the fact that these tracks eventually just stopped. They were in snow. There was no place for the creature to go. Yet, they simply evaporated.
This strange phenomenon is consistent with the findings of folks like John Keel and Jacques Vallée, as well as more contemporary researchers like Ron Morehead, who believe the Bigfoot phenomenon is something more akin to the supernatural/paranormal aspects of Weird Reality than it is to the notion that Bigfoot are animals living in our forests, in our dimension, fulltime.
But, that’s a whole other thing for a whole other time.
For now I'll just say I was thrilled to get a firsthand Bigfoot account. It doesn't matter to me if Bigfoot is real, by the way. I love life, especially it's weird aspects, and I love hearing people's stories. It was a pleasure to hear hers.
Second, the Cliff Droppers Burgers
Woe, woe upon me for not having my camera with me at Cliff Droppers.
“Camera?” you say.
“Yes,” I say.
I don't own a smart phone, my friends. It's true...shameful but true. My cell phone pictures are so poor quality, too, that I never even think to sue it.
In this case it’s a sad thing (not nearly enough to make me buy a freaking smart phone ever again) because I didn’t get a picture of the most righteous of burgers.
Every year I hike Mount Si and end the day with a burger at Twede’s Cafe, for I have long considered Twede’s to be Washington state champion among the burger places. After this last visit, I officially declare a new tradition of hiking Packwood Lake and getting a burger in Cliff Droppers.
Let it be done.
I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better burger, really, than the one I had at Cliff Droppers. Hard to say. I’ve had some damn good burgers in my life.
Cliff Droppers was, at the very least, as good as the best. Fantastic. Juicy. ELECTRIC with flavor. At this point I think it's good to remind readers that the Northwest Nomad is all indie. I don't collect any money from any place that I write about. These are my honest feelings. Cliff Droppers is fantastic and has a warm, friendly atmosphere--even in this strange pandemic age of dehumanizing masks over our faces. Still the face had a down-to-Earth human warmth, and I can't wait to visit again.
Let’s Call it the PLT-BF-CD Trifecta, Shall We?
Packwood Lake Trail-Bigfoot-Cliff Droppers, that is. PLT-BF-CD.
Hit them all there in Packwood, one of the best-kept secrets in Washington state, where the people are as real as the Sasquatches and the burgers are delicious.
Happy nomadding, friends.