Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Trestle Creek Falls


It had been a while since I had visited either of Trestle Creek's two waterfalls. The last time I was here, it was right after a hernia surgery and it was really slow slogging uphill through the forest while simultaneously trying to keep my guts contained within my abdominal cavity, or so it felt like. Flash forward to 2022 and after two more hernia surgeries within the last year, I found myself slogging post-surgery uphill through the forest again. At least I'm mostly healed and my organs did not feel like they would leak out of the surgical incision this time out. You might say I had enough guts and intestinal fortitude to stomach hiking into the belly of the forest to satisfy my hiking appetite.

It was cold down at the bottom of Brice Creek's canyon

While it is a bit of a grind, the 4.5 mile hike around Trestle Creek and its pair of picturesque cascades is not particularly long or adventuresome. The adventure, however, was reserved for the drive to the trailhead on Brice Creek, for the road was hoary with frost and ice and I found myself driving slower and slower so as to avoid going straight when the road didn't. But all was well and the six of us made it to the trailhead without any mishap. Should have brought gloves though, as my fingers quickly went numb in the frozen air.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's up the hill we go

However, the cold was sort of welcome on the slog up. It kept body temperatures and energy fresh, which sure beats becoming a sweatier and smellier version of myself. The path departed Brice Creek and switchbacked to and fro, ever upward through a lush and ferny forest, eventually cresting a ridge before reaching Trestle Creek itself.

First snow queen I've seen this year

Winter had stopped by for a visit lately, as evidenced by the ice and frost to go along with isolated snow patches here and there. Plenty of trees had been knocked down too, like so many bowling pins of the gods, but trail crews had done a great job of clearing the trail. We only had to scramble over a fallen tree just a time or two. Spring is on the way though, and I spotted some snow queen blooming beneath some imposing rocky cliffs.

The trail was a bit of a cliff hugger here

All "good" uphill slogging comes to an end however, and as stated, the path dropped down into the Trestle Creek drainage. Here, the trail (and some hikers) hugged a rock wall while spectacular Upper Trestle Creek Falls commanded attention. Because of the winter storms and melting snow, the creek was carrying a fair amount of water, making the waterfall more boisterous than usual.

Little people(far right) hike
behind Upper Trestle Creek Falls

The cascade is quite the sight but as an added point of interest, the trail circled the canyon and then ducked behind the waterfall itself. We not only got to get an up-close look at the waterfall like so many green-skinned amphibians mating in the mist, but we also got to experience the wet spray on a cold day. Sarcasm intended, but we didn't really mind as we were still pretty warm from the hike to get up here.

It became a beautiful day in the forest

I had hiked this loop in the clockwise direction years ago and my recollection was that the trail had been very steep. Now after hiking in the reverse direction, I pretty much agreed with myself, which in itself is a rare and wondrous occasion. The trail dropped quickly and I retroactively pitied my younger fool self for daring to hike up this. However, the hike was eminently enjoyable, not only because it was downhill, but because the sun had come out, thawing frost, and hikers' fingers, noses, and ears alike. Not only was it a few degrees warmer but the mottled sunlight and long winter shadows is how a forest gives hugs.

Lower Trestle Creek Falls

After meeting up with the Brice Creek Trail, we grabbed the path leading to Lower Trestle Creek Falls. There was no walking around the lower falls, though. Here, the trail ends at a debris-clogged bowl with the lower cascade presiding over the watery honors. Two waterfalls on one hike is twice the fun as one waterfall on two hikes, so we stopped for a bit to merely enjoy the scene, sound, and poetic grace of a tumbling cascade on a winter day.

Brice Creek just looks cold

From the lower falls, it was a return to the trailhead via the Brice Creek Trail, a magnificent hike in its own right. The larger (when compared to Trestle Creek) creek was swollen with winter runoff at the bottom of its deep, dark, and icy canyon. As Brice Creek tumbled photogenically over and around large boulders and other immovable objects, we hiked past, moving quickly to stay warm. Fortunately, all that hoarfrost on the road heading out had melted off, making the drive less sketchy than it had been earlier in the day.

Some of that winter downfall

Reminiscing back on that memorable first hike after surgery, my hiking speed had been exceedingly slow and Mrs. O'Neill and I soon found ourselves way behind everybody else. Exasperated at hiking at the pace of a lethargic snail, Dollie rudely shouldered her way past me and charged ahead, eventually passing all other hikers in her perpetual zeal to end the hike as soon as possible. Good thing I was nowhere near as slow this time out!

Nice try sun but you need to work
on the warmth aspect of sunlight

For more photos of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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