Eldorado National Forest
July 31, 2007
Anxious to try out a new pair of boots in advance of a big outing at Tioga
Pass in four days, and hoping to find some wildflowers near Pyramid Creek, I
have opted for a shorter, "easy" outing. An
temperature at the trailhead arouses little concern; for the total hike is
only three miles or so.
The creek appears shortly into the walk, and it has plenty of water in
it. Of course I already knew that having seen it
five days ago. A glance upstream reveals the falls in the distance.
First hint of coming attractions
The hoped-for flowers are not around. Nothing. About a mile up
there appear to be a few inches of water covering the trail; so I opt for an
alternative route up and to the left. It shortly cliffs out, so I scramble
a little higher, hoping to find a passage. I continue this fruitless
pattern until I have climbed nearly 200 feet above the trail, including some
Judging it undesirable and dangerous to attempt to retrace my steps, I keep
going until I am able to get off the cliff into a manzanita field on a talus
slope. This proves to be the most difficult scramble in my entire hiking
experience. The bushes are as tall as I, and every move is an adventure;
at times it is impossible to know whether the next step will be onto a nice
granite boulder or into a
four-foot hole. At one point I pull
my foot out of a crevice, but my boot remains lodged between the rocks.
Presently, I move my hip pack around to the front in order to keep from catching
it on obstacles, another first.
Bushwhacking this treacherous jungle was not fun
Finally the enervating detour is completed, and the climb toward the falls can be resumed. The trail is quite rough on this upper stretch. At the first major viewpoint a couple is swimming between two sections of cascades. It looks somewhat risky, but that gorgeous green pool certainly is inviting in this heat.
An emerald pool
If I were their age, I'd be in there also!
Any semblance of maintained trail ends about here, so some careful scrambling is necessary to access better viewpoints. Nearly every year someone dies in this area doing something stupid; I am determined not to be one of them, having exhausted my quota of foolishness for the day. The falls are quite spectacular, as always. Some nice flowers near the water unfortunately are out of camera range.
Beside the cascade
Upper section close-up
Ropi Lake and Desolation Valley are just out of sight at the top of the
hill; but this is as far as I will go today. A couple of
white flowers appear on the way down the trail.
These appear to be Pearly Everlasting
On the return loop I spot a few more swimmers taking advantage of convenient
half-way back, I head southeast cross-country
toward a wide, noisy cascade. As it happens, I have the whole place to
myself. There is a perfectly placed rock ledge on which to relax, take
pictures, and munch on some home-recipe trail mix of M&Ms, peanuts,
raisins, and sunflower seeds.
From here it is but a 15-minute walk to the parking lot, where the
temperature is now in the
I'll call this Lower Horsetail Falls
A great spot for a picnic
§: This turned out not to be such a cakewalk after all.