Madison and I had been looking to visit and hike the falls and gorge floor for several months now. Having done the research, and having found out that the park only allows 100 permitted visitors to the gorge floor (weather permitting) each day, we wanted to get their early — before the park opened at 8.
This weekend happened to be the perfect time to visit the falls, as part of celebrating Madison’s birthday.
The suspension bridge and its views were beautiful on both crossings that we made. Descending the metal stairs was not an issue — but climbing back up them was certainly a fun feat. Descending into the permit-only portion of the park, on the “gorge floor,” presented some interesting and exciting challenges. There is no predetermined, or hand-cut path; it’s up to each hiker to pick his or her own routes over or around boulders, across river crossings, and under or around trees.
There were multiple locations where a slip and a bad fall could have ruined one’s day and likely resulted in broken bones. We walked away from the gorge floor wet and with a few small scrapes and bruises — and wet, of course. I did slip carrying my pack, boots, and camera across the top of the final fall at the southern end of the hike able area, which meant I soaked my already-damp boots, and I thought I was going to have ruined the electronics in my pack. Luckily, nothing in my pack seems to be any the worse for wear (phone, wallet, battery pack, Leatherman), and I pulled of a pro photographer move and instinctively raised my hand holding my camera up over my head, as I fell chest-deep in to moving water.
Then came the 0.3 mile climb up the far side of the gorge. Again, it was up to each hiker to pick their own route up the average 30% grade. At the top, the weather was positively wonderful, in the high 70s with a breeze.
Enjoy the photos below.