We had planned to hike the 7 mile RT to Ranger Falls from Stone Door, but the kids wanted to wait for friends to come with them, so we talked over options and decided to do the 5 mile RT to Horsepound Falls in Collins Gulf-a new area!

Oh, after we got up, Chandler was not moving from her warm bed, so Ben reached over and opened the valve on her air mattress. hahahahaha! It's the meanest thing he's ever done. She sank like a rock and decided to rouse herself after all.

We loaded up quickly and got to the trailhead by 10 and headed down the trail not knowing what to expect. Turns out, we never could have been ready for that hike, it was breathtaking! The trail went steeply downward after passing the campsites and then crossed a small boulder field to hook back around under a dome of limestone, a huge cathedral of rock and water. We thought we were at Suter Falls because of the small falls as soon as you turn the corner, but after following the trail around the curve of the dome, we realized the actual falls were at the head of the valley. It was gorgeous, there's just no way to convey the size of the place, or how unexpectedly dramatic the setting was for such a short hike!

We hung out for a bit, too dazzled to just keep going on past. Finally a couple of hikers came through and chatted a while and after they kept going on down the trail, we eventually managed to shake free and do the same. The trail went along under a bluffline, crossing rocks of all sizes and then up a small hill and just like that, turned to packed dirt. It meandered and went through several switchbacks, every dip in elevation taking us past more and more wildflowers until we were at the bottom of the gorge and they were everywhere, lining the trail, going up the hillside, peeking between roots and rocks and covering the gulf floor in a spectacular show. I was so excited!

We made it to the turn to the falls and took the short but steep side trail to the top of the falls, then set up hammocks and piled in for a long lunch rest break. Chandler was in her hammock eating jerky, coconut chips, a granola bar and gummies and said, "All this snacking is making me realize how empty my tummy is." Huh? You are eating food, kid!

I was not looking forward to the hike out, as I really hate climbs. It was actually not THAT bad. It was while I was walking, of course, because it was one climb after another, but there were long level parts, levelish at least. The switchbacks went gently uphill along the straight and had 12 steps at each turning, so there was some recovery time in there. Then it was back to the rocks, which only Chandler flew through. Ben and I slowed down and that made it easier to navigate and keep my breath! Very soon, we were back to Suter Falls and then-the climb out. It's about half a mile in and almost every step is uphill headed back to the car. ACK. Well, anyway, I made it. WAY behind the kids, but I made it. yay We signed out at the kiosk at 3, 6 hours for 5 miles! Of course we were stopped for a while at both falls, but that's still some slow hiking. Makes me wonder if our plan for 8 miles a day on the AT this summer isn't too ambitious after all. My feet were talking by the end.

On the way home, we called ahead to order up some perogies and baked cauliflower from Chef Dad, who was happy to oblige.

We were home before dark, another great thing about this time of year! Hot baths and full tummies later, we all had a good sleep. Nothing like travel to make home more homey. Even little trips! Good memories, too.


I put the camera out the door, snapped a shot and looked at it on the screen to see if I wanted to face the day.



I took off the rain fly to encourage waking amongst the next generation.
It worked with Ben


Not so much for the Chan


2 jackets and a stink eye look are all she needs to say warm.


Chan walks so fast, she's already on the way back while Ben and I are just getting started!


New pack for this season. For me, not the company. Green is SO 2015 color.
It's great except the water bladder compartment is nearly useless and if you do shove a bladder in there, it presses into your back while you hike, eliminating any sort of air flow. I fixed this problem by buying a second water bottle.


Can't bitch about rock steps. Somebody, likely a volunteer or a ranger making $8 an hour (at most) hauled those into place so I don't have to slide on mud.
Ever grateful, even if it IS uphill.


Rhododendron Ate My Babies


The trail crosses a short rock scree


I managed to catch Ben looking depressed, wary, irritated or otherwise miserable in every single shot.


That really is the trail, follow the white blazes!


And that is also trail


trout lily


Violets


Both sides of the trail are lined with trout lillies


American Oil Beetle
A type of blister beetle
Also the type to be dried and ground up to make...Spanish Fly


Trail shot, yes, but also, there's Ben squatted down looking at something. That, to me, is worth the whole trip.


Larkspur


Horsepound Falls


lunch


Napping!
Ben did not bring a hammock, so that dark shape to the right is ME in MY hammock with him


My view.


I love mayapples!


more rocky trail


Along the bottom of the bluff



I was hot!



I see this pic is off centre, but I can't get it to change its mind



The trail levels off a bit for a short stretch, then it's uphill more until you are back at the parking area!
It was a challenging hike, to be so short in mileage, but SO worth it. I can't wait to get back there!