Monday, May 14, 2007

Fall Creek - Henry Cowell State Park

Cinco de Mayo 2007
Fall Creek Trail to the Barrel Mill – Limekiln
5.5 miles - Hiking time: 2.5 hours
Julie and Bill

Bill actually wanted to go on a hike so I started thinking about where to go. I thought of Butano because Bill coming from the Canadian Rockies likes forested hikes with lots of water. The morning was getting away from us though, so I didn’t want to drive too far. Finally, I thought – Fall Creek!

Bill’s been here four years and I can’t believe we haven’t gone to Fall Creek. It is so his kind of place. He loved it. I can’t believe that with all the local hiking I’ve done since moving to Lompico – Loch Lomond, Quail Hollow, and Henry Cowell – that I hadn’t come back to Fall Creek. With hikes I can have a “been there – done that” attitude. So many hikes, so little time. I’ve hiked in Fall Creek several times over the years, but now that I live in Lompico I really view it more as part of my backyard.

We loaded up the daypacks, stopped at Safeway for a sandwich. In my pack – I had the book with map, sunscreen, extra sarong and clothing and another bottle of water. I told Bill to put the sandwiches in his pack. I switched into my hiking boots and we were off.

There were only two other cars in the parking lot. I think of Fall Creek as being a crowded, popular spot. The trail begins heading down to the creek. There isn’t much elevation gain on this trail. We came down to the creek and the trail runs alongside it almost the whole way. “Water” Bill said. He was happy.

We hiked for perhaps a mile when I though about putting on sunscreen – even though we were in the shade. That’s when I noticed – I’d forgotten my pack! I couldn’t believe it. I had my fanny pack – but was it. We were too far along to back, so I decided to make the best of it.

We came to a split in the path – to the left Lime Kilns to the right Barrel Mill site. We headed to the right. The trail rambled next to the creek. Forget Me Nots were in bloom, ferns and some plant with huge leaves grew along the creek.

I dipped my sarong in the water to cool off my neck – figuring I could switch into my dry one – if it got cold. Until I remembered I didn’t have a dry one – it was all in my pack. We were getting hungry so we found a perfect little lunch spot. Right next to a deep watering hole – fed by a waterfall cut through the rocks. There was comfortable rock searing and dappled sunlight. I could see spending the day here reading, listening to the creek and sunbathing. The hole was big enough you could take a dip in it and sit in the “jacuzzi” waterfall on a hot day. This is going to become Julie’s special spot.

We had seen no one on our trail that day. I couldn’t believe it. After eating my sandwich, I told Bill I’d like to finish the hike to the Barrel Mill Site. I knew we were close. I left him scratching his lottery tickets and headed up the trail. There is something nice about hiking alone – it is like a moving meditation. The advantage of hiking with your husband is kisses on the trail and holding hands. The advantage of hiking with friends is the closeness that develops from sharing nature. Bottom line: hiking is always good.

I must say the signage at Fall Creek was very clear. Good thing since the map was in my pack. When I go to Barrel Mill the park has put up some nice bulletin boards explaining the site. There was rusted old machinery which was part of a lathe saw. At this site they would then bring down redwoods – cut them into chunks, core them and have the outside cut into staves. They would then ship these down to the Lime Kiln site – where they would build the barrels to ship the lime. This was from 1912-1927.

I walked back to the “spot”, then Bill and I walked down the road that the wagons used to haul the staves. We came to the Lime Kilns. We climbed up the path to see where they would dig out the limestone – then bring it to the kilns – break it up into pieces – fire it in the ovens and reduce it to lime. The lime was used in making brick mortar for San Francisco.

You could actually climb into one of the kilns. From this point on – we probably saw more then 30 hikers. This is the place everyone goes. It’s understandable – the trail back was beautiful. Hiking between narrow cliffs. This path followed the creek as well. When we got back to the parking lot it was filled with cars. This is such a beautiful spot and so close to home! I will definitely be coming here for evening strolls after work. Bill was ready to come back the next day! I’m glad I have found my spot.

As Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz – “Don’t go looking for happiness over the rainbow because you’ll discover it was in your own backyard the whole time” or something like that. This hike made me appreciate what a great area we live with such wonderful hiking options close at hand.

Lessons Learned: Don’t forget your backpack. You don’t have to travel far to get an amazing hike.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I just started into your BLOG. Great Job! Fall Creek sounds like an easy hike that even I - Horizontal Bob - could handle. Keep up the great work - and don't be forgetting that backpack!

Bill's Best Man
Robert Klein
Calgary, Alberta

p.s. Fourth annual Canada day celebrations (July 1, 2007) will be great!