Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Waterfall Canyon - 5/2/12

                                  Double Waterfalls in Waterfall Canyon

What a pleasure to experience Waterfall Canyon today! A total of twenty hikers from two different hiking clubs; Around the Bend Friends and The Lone Mountain Hiking Club. Beautiful weather with a nice breeze to offset the sun. A photographic canyon complete with colorful waterfalls and blooming red bud trees, Palmer penstemons and cliffrose. And, great conversation.

We assembled at the Willow Springs Picnic Area after leaving from two different locations in town. The majority of the hike is hiking up and back on Rocky Gap Road to the junction of Waterfall Canyon where there is always some amount of water flowing across the dirt road, about 1.6 miles from Willow Springs. Today, the water flow was lower than the writer has ever seen it. Three red bud trees marked the trail junction with a purple flourish.

                                     Beginning climb up Waterfall Canyon.

Also along the canyon trail, we spotted several Palmer penstemons in bloom. The fragrance of this flower can apparently throw Ann into a tizzy of puffy clouds.

Red bud trees decorated the canyon here and there and there were a few stands of cliffrose with their yellowish / white flowers.

So, the twenty hikers slowed down as they met the canyon with its offerings of various limestone scramblings. Since the water was low, the sides of the stream were slippery due to the polishing of the limestone by usual amounts of water. Nevertheless, care was being taken and no one got wet!
                             Highest Waterfall (30 ft) in Waterfall Canyon

After climbing up, around and over several smaller waterfalls, we reached the highest one that stands somewhere around thirty feet. There is some good class 3 scrambling up the limestone to the left of the falls and we had one taker. She (moi) scrambled up with care while some of the hikers watched from below. As long as one is careful that their shoes stay dry before and hold on tightly with each hand hold, it's fun!

When hiking in a group it is always polite to try to keep your shoes as dry as possible so that the hiker following you doesn't have to balance on slippery rock that you have stepped on and made wet and even more slippery. (The writer did not encounter any wet rock during the course of this hike!)

While that hiker was scrambling up the side of the high waterfall, the rest of the group was doing their own more sensible scramble up the other side. Still, the going was slippery with rock and dirt so three hikers decided to stay down and take their break while gazing upward at the gorgeous display.

                     Scrambling up and around a narrow part of the canyon.

The remaining hikers made it up the high falls then proceeded a little further, almost reaching the end of the easy scrambling that the canyon offers. Past this point, the scrambling becomes a difficult climb up steep sides of the canyon dealing with slippery limestone and annoying brush.

We took our break in the La Madre Wilderness then started our trip back down the canyon then the road in the same way we had gone up. It was a beautiful day for a beautiful hike of 4.5 miles with 1000 feet of elevation gain. (But don't drink the water without treating it first!)

                                  Scrambling down Waterfall Canyon.

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