Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lye Brook Falls part 1: An Uphill Battle

As I mentioned yesterday, Mom, Dad, and I planned a field trip for today: hiking up to Lye Brook Falls. It was one of those places I'd always meant to go see but had never gotten around to actually making the trip, so when Dad suggested it as a potential subject for a blog post I figured now was as good a time as any.

We knew it would take a while to reach the falls; it was 2.3 miles from where we park to our destination—almost all of it uphill. Dad had hiked the area before, several years ago, and noted that while for the most part it was a gradual upward journey, at least part of it was "a little steep." But all in all it sounded very doable, so we packed up water and a light lunch, got ourselves and Kaylee into Dad's Jeep, barely made it over the mother of all speed bumps (well, the sign called it a speed bump—really, it was more like a speed pothole or speed ditch) with Mom and Kaylee still in the backseat, found a place to park, and set off on our way.

The first scenic view we got to, not too far from where the trail began, was a mighty fine one. And this'll be the first time Dad's seen it; you had to stand on the edge of a steep drop-off to enjoy this particular view, and Dad's really not a huge fan of heights:

The trail really wasn't too bad at first. Part of it even took us along where a set of railroad tracks once ran, a remnant of the days when logging was common in that area of the mountains:

My first—but certainly not my last—foliage shot of the day:

A small stream just off the trail that Mom and I decided we wanted to photograph:

Kaylee decided to join us when we walked down to the edge of the water, happily walking across to check out the other side for a moment before coming back. As is her habit, she proceeded along the bank to continue exploring, and before long decided she wanted to cross over again. However, while the water barely came up over her feet in the first spot she tried, for her second crossing she unwittingly stepped off the bank directly into a pool so deep the water was over her head. Her expression must have been priceless. For a brief moment I wondered if I was going to have to go down and help her, but she got herself back out very quickly and proceeded to shake off vigorously at least two or three times before she'd even reached us:

Back on the trail, we continued photographing whatever foliage caught our eye:

We definitely had to pay attention and look around, as often our best view of the leaves was straight up:

Everything was going just fine. And then we got to the part that was "a little steep":

If you look up Lye Brook Falls online, most of the first hits describe the hike as "moderate." Allow me to clarify this a bit. If you are someone who regularly hikes, then I'm sure it is indeed a moderate one. However, if you are someone like me, aka the kind of person who spends a decent amount of time sitting and is used to using trails that are solid dirt... IT IS NOT A MODERATE HIKE. It is an energy sapping, leg killing climb with steep uphill stretches that seem to go on forever. And because that in itself was apparently not enough of a challenge, this part of the "trail" was, from all appearances, once a stream bed, so you also have to pick your way along leaf-covered rocks that may or may not be loose. Good times.

Needless to say, I was pretty focused on making it through this stretch without tripping, slipping, or hyperventilating, and as a result didn't take a whole lot of photos until we finally left the rocky horror picture show behind and were more or less dealing with dirt again. By this point we were well up into the woods, and instead of encountering small streams there were hillsides with water trickling over the exposed stones:

The good news is that the trail finally leveled off again for a decent stretch. The bad news is that this section of the path was basically one-person wide, and if you happened to stumble to your right you likely would end up rolling downhill for at least 100 yards. Again, not exactly a situation conducive to photography.

But then, at long last, we finished our ascent and reached the falls. However, for those pictures you're going to have to check out part 2 here.

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