When I arrived on Saturday, there was signage that the Gorge Trail was closed. I knew it required a permit, so I asked a Volunteer at the Interpretative Center if I could get a permit for the following day. He checked with one Park Ranger, who said I didn’t need a permit. I spoke to the Ranger, making a joke about him arresting me later. He assured me not.
When we were down at the base of Hurricane Falls, another Ranger was situated there. We chatted a few minutes and I mentioned I was looking forward to doing the Gorge Floor Trail. He said I absolutely had to have a permit to do the trail. (So don’t rely on the volunteers…)
Recap: you need a permit. They don’t issue them ahead. They only give out 100 per day, so on weekends, you better be there early. The permit is good for all day. Check ahead to make sure the trail will be open.
I got my permit (they check your shoes… no flip flops or Crocs) and headed out. The Ranger said I would have to “rock hop” at the base of the falls. (I effing hate “rock hopping”) and then I’d have to “get wet” if I wanted to continue across Bridal Veil Falls to Sliding Rock Trail. (Or you can go back and go back up all those stairs) I figured I’d evaluate things at Bridal Veil.
*addtional personal recap: barely any sleep thanks to campsite noise & it was just about freezing when I got started. My toes were cold/numb & my hip was a little stiff/unhappy.
So back down all those stairs at 8:30am…Across the suspension bridge…Down more stairs…
To the base of the falls (You head thru metal gate on wood platform, and then you are walking/crawling on rocks)
I cross the gate and make my way down to the section you hop across. Took a few moments to look at which way I wanted to go.The angles are deceptive on the rocks you hop across (and it is DEEP). I was about 1/2 way across when a woman was coming across with her 2 nephews. I offered to extend my hand for her to hop to. She made it safely. I did not.
I ended waist-deep in the water. WAIST DEEP. COLD WATER. REALLY COLD. Thankfully, I had put my cell phone and cameras in dry bags. I knew I was not going to continue trail soaking wet. Trying to get back across, dripping wet was not easy. I’ve had double rotator cuff surgery, and shoulders not particularly reliable, and hand injury has right hand weak. Took off my socks, tried to squeeze out my shoes. (wet boots & wet rock = not a great combo) *I was on the rock in left-hand corner, trying to figure out how to get up.
Stood and stared at the waterfall for a good 30 minutes, clinging to side of a rock. (Lovely view, isn’t it?)
After a few attempts, I got back on the rock to the wood platform. I’m happy to report the woman made it across, but she did end up going in the water up to her knee.
Know what sucks more than going up those 1099 stairs? Going up them soaking wet when it is 34 degrees.
Went back to my car, changed into dry pants, socks, underwear & boots. I was determined! Decided I would go in reverse… See Part 2 for more comedy and awesome views