Friday, June 9, 2017

Hike of a couple of weeks ago... Vanson Peak and Cathedral Falls

Over Memorial Day Weekend we camped at Taidnapam Park ... about which more later. Ms. "Can't Sleep Past Dawn in a Tent" (ahem) was awake at 5:30, so we got up, had breakfast, and headed out.

We pulled out of the campground at 7am and during the 5-mile drive up the one-lane road to the trailhead I just kept thinking how great Woody is doing. Who's a good boy? Woody. There was a lone truck at the trailhead as we set out.

The trail was green and narrow at the beginning.

Here's a TMI moment for you. Feel free to scroll down to the lovely view below.

Driving up to the trailhead I started to feel a little odd. Just odd. Within a few yards of the trailhead, it was clear I needed a pit stop. In a place with no privy. It was clear I would need to ... join the society of bears.

Luckily I had been to a talk at the Mountaineers -- "Hiking and Backpacking Tips for Woman" -- where this matter was discussed in great detail. I marched off the trail, dug a "cat hole" and well... you know. I covered it up and emerged from the woods triumphantly. Let's just put this down to Kilimanjaro training.

We caught this lovely view and headed on down the trail.

The trail was empty and glorious -- winding up and down through the woods.

We crossed a few small creeks, admired a tiny waterfall, and had the world to ourselves.

At 1.1 miles we reached the natural highlight of the hike: Cathedral Falls. I knew there was a big waterfall, where the trail went behind the falls, but I didn't quite know what to expect. Kapow.

Whenever I see a waterfall I just wonder where the water is coming from. So. Much. Water.

Seriously, where is all this water coming from?

Cathedral Falls

I hadn't known what to expect with the trail going behind the falls. Would it be narrow and slippery? Would we want to go under it? Guess I needn't have worried:

Wil on the trail behind Cathedral Falls
Sunny on the trail behind Cathedral Falls
Yep... plenty of room. And, of course ... THE BACK SIDE OF WATER! (And we didn't even need to go to Disneyland to see it!)

Cathedral Falls - the back side of water

After oohing and aahing at the falls for a while, we continued on. We caught glimpses of the river:

And even managed not to miss the turn off toward Vanson Peak.

For the most part, the trail was in decent condition, though we did have to wiggle under a few trees, over a few trees, and around another.

Somewhere along here two runners and their dogs came up behind us on the trail, so we moved over to let them pass. Wil looked at one woman, said, "I know you..." and I realized it was Bobbi, whom we met on the Alaska Marathon Cruise way back in 2011. Crazy!

As Bobbi said on her FB page, "Yesterday, Lynn and I wanted to do an 8 mile trail run on a fairly obscure trail close to home that would not be crowded." I love that we literally ran into them in what honestly can be called the middle of nowhere.

We chatted for a few moments, and she recommended a trail for us the next day. (Spoiler alert: it was AWESOME.) Then they ran off and we were alone again. Just us and some friendly logs.

Oh, and trilliums! I hadn't seen any blooming yet, so this was lovely.

We crossed another couple of streams, which went well.

Okay, this one made me weirdly nervous.

And then, about 3 miles in, we hit this larger stream ... with a big log across it about 5 feet up.

Now, I'm sure we *could* have crossed this. Not at the water level -- it was too deep and moving too fast -- but I bet the log would have been fine. BUT. It just made me uncomfortable. I mean, I have been known to trip and fall on a sidewalk. So we turned around and looked for a place to sit and have a snack. 

On the way back we met a few more people, including a woman nervously walking with a gun tucked in the front of her pants (what?!?!?!), but luckily for the most part it was just us and the trees.

Oh, and, of course, another gander at Cathedral Falls...

We "recovered" by visiting a bar in the nearby town of Morton called The Buck Snort. It still amazes me that I managed to resist buying the camouflage BUCK SNORT t-shirt. But we couldn't resist this: draft beer in cold glass mugs, plus massive portions of onion rings and cheese bites.

So we didn't get anywhere near Vanson Peak, but we did have a great day in the woods, ran into an old friend, and saw THE BACK SIDE OF WATER. I still call that a win.

Vanson Peak

6.3 miles
1496 feet elevation

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