Last Day Hike for GiG to Waterfall in the Fall
The day dawned sunny and warm at 7 a.m. when we left with a slight breeze, and after a stop at Eddie's Corner by Moore, we arrived at 9:30 and on trail by 9:40. The drive in was glorious reds, golds and oranges lighting up the hillsides and canyons. The road, however, was very bumpy until we hit Crystal Lake road. The cashier at Eddie's warned us that we might hit a dry waterfall as the lake and streams completely dry, the first time in her memory. We still hoped we would find water since the Cascades come from an underground spring.
We enjoyed the walk along the limestone canyon with huge rocks and dry stream crossings. The red osier dogwood showed off along with the golden dogbane and maroon huckleberry leaves and scarlet rosehips. We did spot a few flowers: lilac-colored showy asters and harebells.
The trail was a bit challenging with many roots and rocks sticking up as well as large boulders to navigate on the creek crossings. In additions, in several areas, the trail had sloughed away, making us watch our step even more. At the half way point, all of a sudden, water appeared in Rock Creek, giving us hope that the waterfall would be wet!
Katie was watching for a split in the trail and kept asking the leaders if they saw one. At one point, Katie had the group take a side trail to check it out, but it wasn't it. A makeshift sign on a tree had "View" written on it, confusing her even more. She was worried the group would get on the Grandview trail and not the Crystal Cascade one. However, we didn't even see the junction for some reason. But no worries, we reached the waterfall, with plenty of water spilling down the cascade of rocks, giving way to the 'cascade' in its name.
We all took plenty of pictures, posing in front of the cascade; then we ate lunch and Katie scrambled up to the source of the falls. She found it much easier to ascend then descend, but she made it down and encouraged others to go up to see the hole in the ground where the water bubbled up from deep in the earth. So Suzie and Camille took her up on it. They, too, thought going up easy and the downclimb a bit hairy.
Then we retraced our steps back to the parking area, about three miles. On the way back, the temperatures started to climb, making it a bit hot; luckily, most of the way is in the shade. Several gals did take a tumble, and the soil and rocks gave way under Noreen on a particularly narrow section of the trail. However, no one was injured.
On the way home, we again stopped at Eddie's for cold drinks, bathroom stop and snacks before heading home. We arrived back in Great Falls around 6 p.m., another waterfall crossed off the list for those hoping to visit 21 waterfalls in 2021.
Who went: Susan, Suzie, Jo Ann, Noreen, Nora, Maria, Camille, Carol, Katie