My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Twenty-Two Thousand Steps Without a Falls

Sunrise on the way
I made my second attempt to see Feather Falls today. Shortly after 6:00A.M, I was on the road. For overshooting my turn on to Lumpkin Road by several miles,I was rewarded with  abeautiful view of Lake Oroville.

Lake Oraville

I also found what I think is an artesian spring that has a pool built around it. I couldn't decipher  the sign until I got back and enhanced a photo of it. I still can't read it all but the large print at the beginning says" Pure water is the best of gifts that man to man can bring". I found two of these little pools and think that, long ago, people may have shared potable water with travelers in this manner.

I finally arrived around 9:00 A.M. and after checking that I had an extra jacket, water, lunch, binoculars, camera, and walking sticks, I started out at a fairly quick pace and didn't take many  photographs for the first mile or so since I had documented the first three miles.  But I did have to take another photo of the falls where the path crosses Frey Creek. And then I kept finding more and more things to photograph.  So I slowed down a lot from my beginning speed.  One of the things I stopped to photograph were early spring wildflowers.

Frey Falls on the upper trail

Beautiful textures by the falls

The trail wound mostly down but with a few uphill sections as I went on.  But soon after I passed the first view of Bald Rock Dome, I lost all sounds of the river. I noticed that the hills were getting rockier with large boulders apparently in a slide down hill, probably only measurable over eons of years. I kept seeing signs of an old forest fire, including blackened insides of hollow trees. The habitat seemed dryer than at the beginning with less seeps and little streams and without as much moss and ferns growing on the trees and ground. There were a few places with a lot of dead or fallen trees and these were the places where I found the most birds.

Blooming manzanita

Spring flowers

Colorful leaves

Sign of an old fire

Shooting stars

Split boulder

A common plant along the trail

The falling mountain

Finally I got to another sign by a bench with the same mileage as the one at the start. However the trail didn't make any changes and I still hadn't found the falls, so I went on.  After a couple of miles, I again saw Bald Rock Dome and realized I must be on the lower trail. I went on because I was much closer to my car that way - it would be another six or seven miles back if I turned around. I found the downed bridge.  A huge pine tree had fallen on it and broken it.  But the creek was very shallow just upstream and someone had but a board across it.  I stepped on high rocks and the board and got across and only had about a mile and a half back up to the car.

Shooting Stars

Bald Dome from the lower trail - this is when I knew I was past the falls

Broken bridge

My crossing - someone had already placed the board here

Pacific Madrone?

After crossing the creek the trail was all uphill and I was pretty tired when I reached the car.  I stopped to look at the maps, pictures of the fallen bridge and a paper that said if one was caught on the lower trail, they were subject to a fine of up to $5000.  But the last little bit was the dates of this injunction - March 2011 to December 2011.  Whew!

 Even though I didn't get to see the falls, the hike was great fun in itself.  And I got to see several great species of birds.  The best ones were a white-headed woodpecker (a life bird), Steller jays, and a varied thrush. But none of them agreed to have a photo taken. And even with all my stops to take pictures and for lunch, I was still back at the car in 5 hours and 15 minutes. 

And here is a blog about the falls I thought I'd see. Wish I'd read it BEFORE I left. Oh yes, why the title?  I keep a step meter in my pocket to monitor my walking. That's why I knew I walked 22,000 steps.

These falls  are supposed to be a really dramatic sight. If you want to come, schedule your trip a little later in the spring when more wildflowers will be blooming and when the snow pack is melting and filling the rivers. But that won't happen this spring. We have had very little snow - less than a third of what we expect.