Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Walls of Jericho on March 31st

 The 21 hikers on March 31st didn't blow the trumpets to make the Walls of Jericho come falling down. We were too busy oohing and aahing at the colors of the wildflowers peeking from the forest floor. Wayne Chambers and Eric, whose last name escapes me, as well as new Wednesday hiker, Linda, joined us for this truly spectacular hike into this special gorge.

Wayne, Eric, and our sweet Valerie were especially knowledgeable of the flora and every few feet someone could be heard asking, "What is this?" I'm sure to miss a few, but I remember anenome, hepatica, Virginia  bluebells, trout lily, blood root, and trillium. After the initial climb down, approximately 2 miles, and crossing Hurricane Creek with a tree bridge (cut in half with a rail built on one side), we were treated to ever increasing patches of the gorgeous flowers.

The trail was easy and meandering. We passed an idyllic cemetery set near the flowing creek where only one stone was somewhat readable before we began the easy climb on the trail around the mountainside. Here even more flowers were in bloom; at time the woods seemed lace filled until you looked more closely- then you realized it was the blooms hanging as if in air on the side of the mountain. We began to hear gently flowing water which grew from a tinkling whirl to a roar as we got closer to the Falls. Between the trees along the mountain, we spied a scenic, boulder-filled creek.

Then it was time to cross the creek. It was to each his own as to where to cross, but we all made it across and then climbed a short distance to the rocky ledge beside the Falls. Here we had an wonderful birds eye view of the Falls and could see down into the languid pool at the bottom. I think just about everyone made the climb further back aross the rocks to go get a gander at the smaller, hidden falls at the back of the cliffsides. It fell approximately 15-20 feet into a pool that looked so inviting, John Rowland and Gary Petty got down into the small enclosure to get a close-up view. Gary was on a special mission for Debbie to find a heart-shaped rock!

We all settled down to a peaceful lunch at the banks of the larger Falls. What a beautiful place! I, for one, did not want to start back. But, duty calls, and realizing I probably couldn't really stay there forever, I took my leave, albeit reluctantly. The trek back was easy and peaceful until we got to the bottom of that first mountain we had travelled down. Then, it was a steady, steady, climb out. There were a few stops to get my breath, water my neck, and gather my strength to follow those ahead of me, but I finally made it out.

One of the best hikes every! (Don't I say that about every week?? This time I really mean it!)