Monday, March 10, 2008

Whiskeytown Falls - Redding CA

Whiskeytown Falls
3.6 miles
Unknown elevation
Hiking time: 1.5 hours
Driving time: 1 hour
Hikers: Nick and Julie
Drivers: Sue and Ed

While up in Redding, my 19 year old nephew Nick and I decided to hike up to Whiskeytown Falls. My dad was going to look for mushrooms at the trailhead and mom decided to come along.

I had done this hike last year to the waterfalls and I remembered that time I was alone and pushing to get there and back for dark. I knew we had gone up a windy dirt road to get to the trailhead and I wondered if there would be snow on the road since the mountains around Redding were snow covered.

Mom was our trusty driver and we loaded into the car, getting a little later start than we anticipated. We stopped and looked at the boat ramp above Keswick Dam.
When we got to Whiskeytown I went in and talked to the rangers. I asked how long the hike was and they said 3 hours. 3 hours!!!! I knew it hadn't taken me that long. I asked if the road up was open and they said no problem.

We got back in the car and headed towards Brandy Creek. When I looked at the map and trail instructions I realized that they had us starting at a point on the opposite side of the lake.

Mom was doubtful that we knew where we were going since it didn’t match the directions on the map. Between Dad and I we directed her to a narrow dirt road above Brandy Creek. It was 2 ½ miles to where the road was closed and we hoped that was also the trail head. Mom isn’t used to driving on these kinds of roads.

The further it went the worse the road got. It didn’t help that dad was a front street driver – calling out suggestions such as “to the right, go to the right – watch out for that puddle, speed up, slow down – watch out for the edge!!!!” I gave words of encouragement from the back seat “It’s okay mom, you’re doing fine…” Nick just took it all in and clutched the side of the door.

Finally we made it to the trailhead. It was now 3:00 p.m. and once again we would be pushing sun set on the hike. Mom and Dad were going to stay close to the car and go down to the creek looking for mushrooms.

Nick and agreed that we would turn around at 4:00 p.m. regardless of how far we had gotten.

We started up the trail. It’s all uphill with a gradual grade through a forested trail. We came to the first bridge and there was a giant snow bank on the far side.

The road narrowed and we crossed several creeks. Part of the trail was covered in snow. Both Nick and I were wearing tennis shoes, not hiking boots. We passed two girls who were having trouble with a stream crossing. Then an older couple was coming down the trail with their dog. They warned us that the creek was full, the falls rushing and the rocks slippery. There is a bench at the Lower Falls, but being on a tight schedule we headed right up to the falls.

They were indeed gushing. There are iron railings built in some of the trickier areas. We crossed a board bridge to the other side and then climber up to where we could see the top of the falls. There was one more river crossing – but it looked to tricky to risk. We enjoyed the view then headed back down. I was climbing down a rock, but didn’t realize a stream was running down the rock and I got my butt very wet. It was cold for the rest of the hike down.

We stopped at the board bridge at the bottom and I briefly soaked my Achilles in the ice cold water. It felt great. We headed back down the trail and made it out in record time. Dad had moved the car and was sitting in the driver seat. He drove us out – very uneventfully. No front seat driving comments for were directed at him.

It was quite an adventurous little drive/hike and Nick was a great sport about it all.

Lessons Learned: Front seat driving suggestions are not always helpful. Keep your butt dry.

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