On the Fourth of July, I went off in search of the Winding Stairs Trail, home to Miuka Falls and Secret Falls. As soon as I found the trail head, it started to pour. Cherry Hills Recreation Area was just up the street, so I drove around there for a bit, and then parked at the trail head and waited out the rain.
Once it cleared up, I started out. It was wet and dreary, and the day did not lend itself to a pleasant hike. The trail was about a mile and a half. Going in, it was fine because it was all downhill. (Which of course meant it was all uphill coming back.) I think because of the holiday and the rain, I was the first person on the trail that day. Because of this, I ran into cobwebs built across the trail every five minutes. I also came home with two ticks. They hadn't burrowed in yet, but ew. I did find this neat cave/rock formation thing, under which I planned to take shelter if the rain started again.
I hiked for awhile, and according to the trail directions I had, both falls required me to leave the trail at some point. Now, I pictured leaving the trail and fighting through the underbrush, and coming out at some picturesque oasis with a waterfall and pool. Not so. The woods let out right ONTO the falls. To get decent pictures, I had to climb out onto the steep, slippery cascade. This is what I had to stand on:
It's completely smooth and there's a steady stream of water. But. This is what risking my life enabled me to get a picture of:
So worth it! I would have like to try to climb up a bit and get closer, but it was hard enough getting out far enough to get decent pictures. One slip, and I was in for the water slide ride from hell.
Now that was Miuka Falls, the first on the trail. After I managed to get back to the path, I continued on for awhile. The directions for Secret Falls were a little more vague. I eventually came across what I think was the way to Secret Falls. I found a creek, anyway... and water was kind of falling... but it brought me out in the middle off the falls, and it was impossible to get good pictures, even with risking my life again and crawling out onto them.
I was on a little plateau, so it wasn't as death-defying as trying to get the Miuka Falls picture. At this point, I sat on a dry spot for awhile and had some water (from a bottle, not the creek). When I was getting up, I needed a handhold. As I reached out for a tree branch, I noticed it looked weird. There was totally a spider the size of my thumb blending in with the bark. I was an inch away from grabbing it. I would have taken a picture, but I ran away screaming and crying and trying not to plummet to my death.
Hiking out was rough, as it was all uphill. By the time I was almost back to the start, I was soaked and out of breath. So of course I ran into a group of people. They probably thought I was having a heart attack. They still stopped me to ask stupid questions. Some semblance of the following took place between me and the father (oh, yeah, it was a family... three kids, their parents, and their grandparents):
Him: "What are the Winding Stairs?"
Me: "... that's just the name of the trail...?"
Him: "Oh... well is there anything to see down there?"
Me: "Well there are some waterfalls, but they're a ways down and you have to leave the trail to see them."
Him: "Oh... well, I hear water. Is there a creek?"
Me: "Yeah, it kind of runs along the trail."
Him: "Great! Let's go find the CREEK, kids! Thanks! Bye!"
I'm not sure why he took 3 kids and 2 elderly people to a moderately difficult trail, knowing nothing about it, but I didn't see anything about a family of 7 dying in the woods.
At this point, I would post a picture of me looking awkward in front of one of the falls, but I had enough trouble trying to get pictures of the falls, let alone me in front of them. I think I'm going to check out another trail with two new falls tomorrow. I'll try my best for an awkward pic!