Sweet Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! WTF were we thinking???!!! The trail sounded doable; 1.3 miles, paved, ok not ADA grades but a 300 foot climb to the falls. Labeled as an EASY hike by the National Park guide book. What the heck, right? So we decide to give it a go with a guy in a wheelchair plus 20 pounds of camera gear, plus friggin 90 degree heat, plus a light lunch, and did I mention the 300 foot climb in elevation? Oh, and that paved trail? Yeah that sucker has seen BETTER DAYS. OMG! Most of it was crumbled away at the edges. Oh yeah the edges, the ones right next to the ridge that plunged down hundreds of feet. The path, that slanted TOWARD those ridges. The path, the guy on WHEELS is trying to use! The guy who sometimes has a problem with HEIGHTS!!! Oh MY God, what were we thinking??? These Falls better be the most amazing thing ever!
At some point, delirium kicked in and the decision to keep on going was made. The people passing us on their way back down would encourage us. They said it was beatiful and cool and refreshing up there. And that did sound nice, no matter that the wheelchair guy's left arm was giving out, or that the rubber feet fell off the tripod, or that I was having second thoughts...about having enough life insurance!!!
So on we went, stopping every 30 feet or so to rest DH's arm, catch our breath, and wipe the sweat from our brow. Now the people were passing us by telling us that there was a bear on the lower Falls and if we hurried we might see it! Oh boy! What a photo op that would be. So we kept going. Then, a group came toward us at a pretty fast clip. THE BEAR WAS ON THE TRAIL AND HEADING OUR WAY! DH and I had spent the last hour climbing to that point...WE WERE NOT TURNING BACK! So we stopped and waited and another group of people came through and made a big racket to scare the bear up the ridge from the path. As we continued on we looked up to see the bear moving along the ridge ABOVE US!
At this point DH is starting to freak out a bit, between the height, the crappy trail, and the bear...but we are so close...we keep going.
And finally...We get there! And it is cool and refreshing! Only there are A TON of people there. It's like it's Disney World or something. People are taking pictures of each other. They're sitting on the rocks, climbing all over. All the little kids are in the falls, slipping and sliding around and having a good ole time. Yep, just what we wanted, a picture of a bunch of ugly kids lolly gaggin around in water that a bear probably peed in! Where's the natural setting? My nature shot of Laurel Falls?!?!? Effed up in a major way, let me tell ya! We did manage a few pictures, but all in all, the amount of effort was not worth the view. Two thumbs down!!!
And speaking of down, that is exactly where we headed! It was easier than up but I had to play brake pedal for DH...oh my aching legs, back, neck, arms, and DH didn't fare much better! He got blisters on his hands, I got them on my feet! Mamma mia, where is the hot tub! The 10 mile drive to the cabin never felt so long!
Here are the pics: