I was able to get an early start, which is key in the Great Falls area. By 10:00, I already had 3 hours of hiking under my belt, and was able to enjoy the calmness and coolness of the morning, catching some of the area wildlife before the sun's full rise.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect, though almost immediately, it was clear the water levels were high, some of the banks and paths had been breached, and other areas were not passable. Those turned out to be minor issues, as the area itself was beautiful, and I was determined to move on.
|From the start - underbrush knocked down from flowing water|
|Trail washed out|
|Trail washed out|
As I headed further downstream, I came upon an area with high rock walls and the water rushed by more powerfully. Difficult Run is essentially a creek, so to see this volume of water made for some nice views. In fact, as I sat down to take in the beauty, and the sound of the rushing water, I was surprised as I looked over at a Turkey Buzzard - who was looking back at me!
|First view of Potomac from Ridge Trail|
|Potomac from Ridge Trail|
|One of many large logs and trees sweeping by|
|Docks, barrels, tires, trees...|
|US Park Police directing hiker to evacuate|
|Hiker on closed trail|
|US Park Police had their hands full with people ignoring closures|
|I came upon a Park Ranger rushing to get these two off the rocks|
Spectacular views and being in awe of the rushing river kept this hike amazing as I worked my way toward Great Falls. Rock formations, plants, and wildlife made each step of this hike a great experience. As I made my way along, I was surprised to see both a Pileated Woodpecker and Red-shouldered Hawk. I was able to take a number of photos of these very beautiful birds.
|One of thousands of rock formations|
I made it to Great Falls. It was quite spectacular with the volume of water rushing through. I have never seen all of the rock formations completely covered. Even so, this level of water came no where near the top floods of the area. As I watched the water rumble by, I wondered how it would change the falls when water levels receded. I have attached a photo of Great Falls under more normal conditions - and as of yesterday.
|Great Falls under more normal conditions|
|Great Falls - Saturday, May 17, 2014|
|Yesterday's flow rate was 150,000 Cubic Feet per Second (cfs)|
|Chipmunk on Swamp Trail|
|Two Deer - Swamp Trail|
I logged 7 miles on this hike, though the miles were never on my mind. Not with everything I had seen today. As I pulled out of the parking lot, dozens more were pulling in - smiles on their faces. Just as I had when I had arrived.
|Keep Hiking, Friends!!|
Until next time,