Monday, September 24, 2012

Cloudland Canyon: Waterfall Trail to Hemlock Falls


Today was a rough day in the Moore household, so I am going to blog about a happier subject: Saturday's hike on the first day of fall.


Being outside does something for my soul. It allows me to refocus and to let go of whatever is troubling me. This past Saturday I really needed that. Plus the weather was perfect for hiking.


Ideally I need to spend time outdoors at least once a month {preferably more}. With a baby and busy schedules, I am learning to accept that we can't be on a trail every weekend of the year and we may not go backpacking this year, but we can do some shorter hikes. 


So that is exactly what we did...


Our last visit to Cloudland Canyon was almost a year ago. I was 8.5 months pregnant and we hiked 4 miles on the West Rim Trail. This time we were on our third hike since Jack was born and our first trip back to Cloudland.


Instead of the West Rim Trail, we decided to take a brief stroll on the Overlook Trail – a short, wheelchair accessible path that allows you to view the canyon from the opposite side of the gorge from the West Rim Trail. We felt good on the brief walk and decided to attempt the moderate 2-mile hike to the Hemlock Waterfall down in the gorge.


This was not a particularly challenging hike, but walking with a 22-pound baby strapped to your back does pose some challenges. Twenty-two pounds is less than what I would carry on an overnight backpacking trip {which could be anywhere from 25-50 pounds depending on the length of our hike and the season}, but camping gear doesn't wiggle or have the propensity to lean to the left the entire time.



As we began to descend into the gorge, we passed a group of boy scouts taking a break on their way up. One of the leaders said something along the lines of, "We'll see who is walking the dog on the way up."



In fact, on the way up I was still carrying Jack and Daniel still had a handle on Sophie. It just works best this way. Sophie can be a handful if we run into other dogs on the trail and I have shorter legs and cannot keep Sophie's pace. Daniel also carries our water and anything else we feel like we need for a trip, so we think it is a pretty equal scenario.


This trail was composed of many stairs. Well over 200 {one way}. It wasn't that hard, but it did leave my quads trembling by the time we reached the bottom.


Another concern was Sophie. She was not a fan of the metal grate stairs. We think that being able to see below her was not her favorite way to hike. Coming back was a challenge for her as well because climbing stairs is not natural for her. But she was a trooper and hung in there. Daniel thought the stairs were probably as tough on Sophie {if not tougher} than the rock pile that is Mt. Washington, that we climbed last May. 


Jack was fascinated by the waterfall. We took the time to sit and enjoy the view and the breeze coming off of the falling water. Jack kept holding his hand out to touch the mist.


He was a little trooper and stayed awake during the entire hike {all 2 miles of it}. Including our time spent at the bottom, it took us about 2 hours. Not a fast pace, but comfortable and the perfect amount of time for a 10-month old.


Before we headed up to Cloudland Canyon State Park, we took the opportunity to have lunch at Thatcher's Barbeque and Grille. With a 94% rating, Urbanspoon did not let us down. I will post about our lunch experience tomorrow. 






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