Since I have been easing back into hiking, I’ve been pushing myself with more distance, elevation, and challenging terrain. But I haven’t done a backpacking trip. I considered going back to do a trail I was familiar with, but I’m eager to explore new paths. Savage Gulf had been on my ‘to do’ list, so I ‘to done’ it. My plan was a fairly easy hike – take the Stone Door trail past Laurel Gulf (pretty views)
The Stone Door was impressive, as well as the views into the gulf. Unfortunately, it was SO impressive, I paid attention to signs instead of my map. I was supposed to take the Gulf RIM Trail to Alum Camp. All I thought was “Alum Camp” and I followed the arrows. BIG Mistake. HUGE.
So I’m hiking along into the gulf, it’s rather uneventful and not particularly breath-taking. I recall the woman in the Ranger’s Office (who had never actually hiked there) said there was plenty of water near the camp. But it was very humid. I had 32oz + 17 oz of water, plus my Katadyn to filter water later on. I had just about sucked thru all of my 32 oz when I saw this sign and realized I was screwed.
I then looked at my map – and realized I had a VERY LONG UPHILL trail to Alum Camp. It was approximately 5pm. I had 3+ hours of light, but I could turn around and go mostly uphill for 4 miles, and then another 3 miles of flat terrain to the Alum Camp, or I could push on thru the rest of the Gulf Trail to the Alum Camp. But I HAD to find water.
It was evident the creek was dry, but I found a puddle on a rock and surprisingly got a full 32 oz from it. I didn’t stop to take a lot of pictures, nor did I take the spur to Ranger Falls. I wanted to get to camp. I encountered a half hour later, “The Sinks” which is where the creek actually goes underground. It was lovely and had lots of clear running water. I chugged the remainder of my 32 oz and refilled that as well as my 52oz reserve. While doing so, I had a close beaver encounter.
Then I began the final arduous ascent to Alum Camp. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t particularly tired. I had drunk at least 96 oz of water in past couple of hours but I was absolutely drenched. I was moving so slowly up the hill to the camp. I’d take 20 steps and stop. I wasn’t particularly out of breath. I made it to camp at 8;40 – I didn’t even bother to scope out the different campsites. I found two trees that would work with my hammock, set it up, washed myself off, changed clothes and went to bed. No dinner, no campfire. Nada.
Woke up in the morning feeling good. No hip problems, my shoulders were okay from the pack. I enjoyed this lovely view.
Then I headed off to the Greeter Falls Spur. (Now I’ve studied the map!) There was a small swinging bridge that goes over the top of Broad Tree Falls and the trail continues along to Lower and Upper Greeter Falls…
I opted to visit Upper Greeter Falls first. It was early Friday morning, no one was around – the trail was easily marked and required a little attentiveness due to the wet soil. There were a number of spur trails that one could follow to access various spots.
If you hike the trail above Upper Greeter Falls, you’ll see a smaller falls and a nice secluded area for picnic and swimming – but be aware, this is the wilderness. There are copperheads and critters abound. And please pick up your darn trash.
Then I hiked to visit Lower Greeter Falls – it’s approximately 50 ft high. You have to go down a spiral staircase, which, with a backpack, is a bit of a challenge. But it was lovely and serene. And more steps.
Then I hiked back to the Rim Trail (which I should have taken the day before) It was an easy hike, intermittent views of the gulf, lots of crickets, toads, and yellow jackets. Some spots were more impressive than others.
I made it back to the Stone Door Camp for the night. It was a much better day hiking… Overall, I hiked approximated 15 miles. I’ll upload gpx… eventually. 🙂
Honestly, it was not a trail I’d do again – I might go to Greeter Falls after a good rain. And the overlooks above Stone Door are pretty for a full moon or meteor shower, but there are many more places more beautiful to experience in my book.