A solo hike for me up to Norvan Falls, which we first visited almost 8 years ago to the day, with our first callout with Wanderung. I was looking for a hike with some distance, and some shelter if the rain persisted. I pulled in to the parking lot, tied my laces and was halted immediately by a cluster of wood anemone, all closed up. A picture or two later I set off for real, heading down the slope to join the trail by Lynn Creek. Ten minutes later I crossed the creek and filled out my wilderness registration form. It was 12:23 pm.
I opted for the easier route along the Cedars Mill trail along the creek in both directions, making for a speedier trip and avoiding the worst of the mud and roots. I made good progress along the old road, pausing only for a few flower photos. Near the Cedars Mill site at about 2.5 km, I saw the first snow alongside the trail, encountering snow on the trail about 1 km later. It was only a few inches deep and had been trampled to slush and mud already by the trail users ahead of me. Within 45 minutes of posting my registration slip, I reached the snow-covered open area at the so-called Third Debris Chute. I stopped for some trail mix to top me up, and some water. The surrounding peaks were still mostly enshrouded in low cloud, but the patches of blue sky looked promising.
I set off again and found (to my surprise) that the trail was actually really easy. I’d completely forgotten that even from the Hanes Valley trip from 2009. (Mind you even that is nearly 4 years ago now…) It’s an old logging road, complete with corduroy logs in places and thanks to the numerous small creeks, was largely snow free. Where there was snow, it was barely a couple of inches deep and I had good traction all the way. However, the same could not be said for the bridges, on which the snow had been compacted and turned icy. The result was really slippery bridges and logs, even with wire mesh for grip. Only one bridge had suffered any damage over the winter and it was minor: a small tree had fallen and broken the hand-rail on one side. Getting over it was easy.
Barely another 50 minutes beyond the debris chute, I reached the turnoff for the falls. Here I headed uphill (yay, some cardio!) and caught my first look at the falls from up on the side of the canyon. Not a great view, so I picked my way down to the creek level, and over a couple of snow-capped boulders to get a clear view of the falls. They were in good flow, and much better than I remember. I ate my (late) lunch and set up some long exposure photos of the flowing water. I even opted for a self-portrait, not something I usually do. I had the falls all to myself for a few minutes and just enjoyed being there.
As ever, turning round to head for home was a difficult decision, though made easier by the fact I was now quite chilly. I’d been hiking in a T-shirt as the temperature was mild, and the rain had held off. The sun was even making sporadic appearances, lighting up the fresh green growth among the trees. It all felt very spring-like :-)
I got moving again to warm up and made good time back to the debris chute. I stopped off by Lynn Creek and explored some of the gravel banks, getting some nice views of the Needles towering above the valley. By now there was quite a bit of blue sky and it was really quite lovely out in the open by the river. I could have spent even more time here, but I had to move on and I rejoined the trail (and numerous other hikers and trail runners) to re-trace my steps back to the car. I paused at each patch of salmonberry listening for hummingbirds. I heard the “light sabre” buzz of the rufous hummingbird several times, but saw only one, briefly before it flitted off again.
At 4:19 pm I dropped my registration slip into the box. I couldn’t resist checking and noticed that only five other groups had filled out the form since I had. I encountered way more than five groups on the trail… Back at the car I had a surprise waiting for me: all the wood anemones had opened up to create a gorgeous little flower display.
I enjoyed this hike way more than I expected, and I’ve immediately put it back on the list of should-definitely-do sometime.
Distance: 14 km
Elevation gain: 250 m
Photos on Flickr