Saturday, July 10, 2010

Big Falls - 7/10/10

Thirty- seven members of the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club attended an unusually difficult Saturday hike today to Big Falls in the Spring Mountains. We began the hike at the far reaches of Kyle Canyon where there is a large parking area used for both Mary Jane Falls and Big Falls trails. The same trail is used for both destinations for around half a mile; then the Big Falls trail splits off to the left and finds the drainage.

After the trail drops into the drainage, the hike becomes a scramble up the sharp slope of a creek bed complete with boulders of all sizes. This year, another avalanche has made the climb a bit more difficult by filling the drainage with more fallen trees and brush. At first, the creek bed was dry.

We made a concerted effort, today, to keep all thirty- seven hikers more or less together as the trail was not clearly seen and many hikers needed help to navigate the high steps and climbs. To the left, Mary is seen finding her own way and getting a good stretch out of it! Many hikers enjoy the scrambling portions of some hikes as it works different muscles requiring some upper body strength plus bending and stretching.

About half way up the drainage, we began seeing water flowing down. The water is as clear as water can get! Cold, too! And, because of the water, it was necessary for us to stick to the side trails, crossing the creek back and forth as we made our way. Getting all of us up to the falls at the same time was a slow process but it gave us time to look around and enjoy the cooler air and surrounding mountains.

About three- quarters of the way up the drainage, there lies a huge rock in the middle that has been there for many years. It is impossible to hike over, under or immediately around this obstacle unless you are there in the middle of winter when the snow covers the area making Obstacle Rock a mere bump in the trail. Small trails have been made on either side of the drainage up the steep and slippery slopes to enable hikers to make their way around the rock. The going really gets tough here.

When we finally reached the falls, we were met with one large remaining snow bank used for sledding on plastic bags and a seventy foot waterfall pouring down through a funnel type opening at the top of the cliff. It was exciting to see the waterfall as it is seasonal and, for most of the year, is a simple dry indentation on the mountainside. We enjoyed the "ambiance" of the beautiful scenery then returned the way we came. Separating into three groups on the return, we finished the three mile hike with 800 feet of elevation gain within a four hour time period.

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