Sunday, January 15, 2017

Today's trip is a tale of two hikes, both were intended to end in the same place with only the latter being successful. There is an old saying that experience is something you gain just after you needed it and with my first trip into the Thompson River Gorge that's exactly what I got, experience.
At Brewer Road, looking for redemption.
The faintest paths lead to the biggest prizes.

Let's go back about four years to that fateful day and the list of issues that Kip and I caused for ourselves were almost all self inflicted. Our first mistake was overconfidence. We planned a trip that included six miles of hiking in Gorges State Park before even entering the woods at the Thompson River trailhead. Our second mistake would be being unprepared. We packed light with very little food or water and no lights if it were to get dark on us. As it turned out, it did get dark on us, we did run out of food and water, and we never laid eyes on the waterfall we came to see. Thinking we would waltz into the Thompson River Gorge and have our way was more than we could overcome, and anyone that has been there can tell you there is no waltzing of any kind on that trail.
A friend we made along the way.
Sweating away but making progress.

Eventually I found my way back to the Thompson River and found the spur for the Big Falls on the river. Kip and I had turned one spur trail too early and visited Rich's Falls just upstream from Big Falls and knowing how close it was dark it was and how exhausted our legs were from a two mile wrong turn mistake earlier in the hike trudged out defeated. Not only did I hike to Big Falls once, but twice, and then a third time, but never with Kip and I always knew there would come a day for our redemption.
High above the river we enjoyed the last bit of shade.
The beginning of the descent to the river. Believe me, it gets steep!

Earlier this summer, Kip and I realized the Big Falls dream by hiking on a hot blue sky day. We skipped all of the side waterfalls along the way and set our sights on only Big Falls. I carried a full pack and plenty of water as well as some cold brews to celebrate finally making it to our goal as a team. Hiking down to the base of the falls is about as steep as a trail can get and some rope has been left in sections to help keep your footing although it is starting to show some wear. Enough people go to Big Falls now that the trail was probably almost unrecognizable to Kip. The deadfall is long gone and all turns are worn so it's hard to stray off course. The hike isn't incredibly difficult either until the climb out but it's only for a short stretch. Entering the steep descent we took our time and made it down to the river pretty fast. Several large trees have fell and I was so sweaty already I opted to just smash through some dead limbs onto the river bank instead of climbing around them. Kip had a good laugh at me and I cleared us a pretty decent path while watching for snakes since he's terrified of them. I was overheated from all the scrambling and emptied my pockets before lumbering into the pool below the falls to cool off. Kip emerged right behind me and I could see it on his face he was impressed with Big Falls. It's hard not to be with a 150ft high waterfall roaring in your face. The coolest part of the falls for me is the long natural slide that empties into the pool. On all of my previous visits I had only observed others ride the slide at Big Falls but today it would be my turn!

At last! Big Falls on the Thompson River.
Downstream from the falls is a jumble of downfall and boulders.
In the pool to cool off before sliding and climbing around on the other side.

Liquid courage came in the form of a couple of Sam Adam's Summer Ales and I started up the rock starting low but working my way higher with each slide and empty beer can. Eventually Kip and I decided it would be a good idea to do a tandem slide holding hands...don't ask. Somehow I slid a little off course during it all and smashed my elbow hard entering the pool and fractured the housing around the Gopro hero 3. Sadly, it died there on the banks of the Thompson River but not before I retrieved our video footage. We spent time sliding, climbing the rocks, and just relaxing with out snacks enjoying having the whole place to ourselves.
In the hot..well...kinda cold..tub.
Climbing the large rock on the opposite side of the river.
The upper drops of Big Falls.

Kip's view of me climbing the rocks beside the falls.
Kip being a proud hiking man.
Looking down river from near the top of the falls

Climbing out wasn't nearly as hard since we had refreshed ourselves in the water and by the time we had reached the truck we had worked up quite the appetite. We stopped by the Forks of the River Taproom and had some of the best brisket nachos either of us have ever had. It may have took a few years, and a lot of miles, but Kip and I picked the perfect day for redemption on the Thompson. Until next time, happy trails!
Heading out.

1 comment:

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