Monday, April 07, 2008

Ceci n'est pas un pont

Tiptoe Falls Rowyn and I went to the Portola Redwoods State Park yesterday and had some lovely hikes around the little network of trails there. However, Pescadero Creek wends its way through there as well, crossing the trails at numerous points, and it turns out that most of the footpath bridges are only temporary, and are still dismantled from the winter.

The first time we came to a supposed crossing, we found the metal frame of the bridge hauled up on shore, along with a number of planks that probably had provided the solid footing for it. There was no other easy way to cross that we could see, nor could we spot a continuation of the trail on the other side, so we figured it wasn't worth wading. (There was a good picnic spot on a mossy rock, though, from which we watched other folks attempt to navigate the crossing.)

We backed up and came at the creek twice more with the same result: no bridge (at least not over the water), no handy rocks or logs, and no visible path on the other side anyway. We also tried options that weren't on the map (purely by accident, as the map was quite unclear about the [non]existence of various paths). Eventually we found a crossing with a thin, bouncy, fallen tree trunk stretched across it, and that did the job.

This let us make our way to the only specific scenic location we knew of and therefore our nominal goal: Tiptoe Falls. They're called "tiptoe" because they're just baby falls, and you never know when they might be napping, so you need to sneak up quietly on them. From a dizzying height of, oh, about 5 feet, they plunge thunderously into ankle deep water. Scenic in its own small way, though.

After that, we figured the easiest way back would be to find our way to the bridge on the service road, since the map didn't just show it as a dotted line crossing the creek, but three solid lines clearly indicating "solid, permanent, honest-to-goodness bridge on a road." When we got there, after several more inaccurate paths and some forging through the woods, here's what we found to get us across:

Ghetto River Crossing
  1. A concrete block, as if from an extinct dam.
  2. A narrow, wobbly plank over the water.
  3. A nearly vertical, muddy bank with no path or steps.
  4. A fire hose tied around a stump at the top and dangling down the slope so you could haul yourself up.

Hacky, but it worked.

Anyway, it was a lovely hike overall, and all the map and bridge silliness just gave us more mileage out of the little trails. We also saw newts (one of which dropped out of a tree at us), slugs (of the banana variety), and fairy doors in trees.

[p.s. here's the the title reference.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In January I biked down Alpine and Portola Redwoods State Park Road and then through that park and Pescadero County Park along Old Haul Road. I, too, discovered the plank bridge and the steep banks. The whole route took me much longer than I had anticipated, so I ended up biking the two hours on 84 and home in the dark. Totally worth it.