No rain this morning, hooray!! After the weather we’ve seen thus far I didn’t hold out much hope that it would be a good day, weather wise. We dressed in full rain gear and carried an extra poncho . . . just in case. I had hoped that the falls would be spectacular because of the amount of recent rainfall and the warming temperatures bringing on the snowmelt. We were not disappointed AND the countless lower woodland wildflowers were beginning to show their colors.
The weather was perfect for hiking so we walked the mile from the campground to the Trail of Waterfalls and started out on the Canyon Trail to pass under the beautiful 171’ South Falls, an awesome feeling to walk under this fall of water spilling over a rock cliff high above. Hiking down the canyon next up was Lower South Falls a 93’ cascade that we walked behind to continue on the trail, breathtaking! Another mile through the canyon to Lower North Falls a short 30’ drop but a wide falls, beautiful. From here there is a short spur trail that takes you to Double Falls 178’ drop in all with a second cascade starting about 2/3 of the way down. Still no rain! We stopped here and sat by a bridge at the top of Lower North Falls for a rest, a little snack and to enjoy the sound of the water pouring over the falls. Next came Drake Falls a mere 27’ this one with a viewing platform over the edge of the river. Middle North Falls was next, another stunning 106’ cascade and where we had to decide to continue on the last loop and three more falls or take a short cut back along the rim trail. We opted for the rim trail but first Winter Falls spilling 134’ in a spectacular cascade off the rim of canyon. The rim trail took us through quiet forest marks of downed trees here and there and scattered branches everywhere but the trail was actually in good condition save for one muddy stretch where a large tree had made it’s mark on earth, landing across the path.
By the time we reached the van we had logged 7 miles, a bit much for our first hike but the falls are seductive and keep you moving.
The Canyon Trail is not a difficult trail, mostly flat with a few ups and downs and there were spots that were quite muddy this time of year, turning some of the tennis shoe hikers back. We also slogged through areas where there had been a lot of trees downed in the Friday windstorm but otherwise it was good hiking.
We took our time along the trail and stopped often for shots of the different falls and, of course, the wildflowers. I was pretty tired by 6 miles but we still had a mile back to the campground and a light rain had just started. I put my camera away and protected my pack, we arrived back at camp tired and a little damp but stimulated and inspired by the gorgeous hike and breathing in the fresh, clean air, thinking why don’t we do this more often?
All in all we felt extremely lucky to have a mostly rain-free day with the exception of the last mile and happily we had dressed for the mud and rain so it was not a big deal. Great day!
Back at the van we were pooped but not too pooped to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to celebrate being back on the road again and to celebrate a beautiful day of hiking; I wonder how I will feel tomorrow . . .