Brute Force to the Balcony
Hike to the top of Reavis Falls from Rogers Trough Trailhead. View the official route for details. Read the dialog below. Judge if you are up for the adventure. Pic a dry day with forecasted temps at the falls under 80 degrees. Study the maps and go prepared.
Not for the faint of heart. There are easier routes for those just looking to see the top of the waterfall. The official route is worthy for those stimulated by adventure.
Our adventure unfolded as such...
While trails are cool, the adventure of off-trail is unmatched. We walked the final miles back to the trailhead in the dark pretty much exhausted. The goal of reaching Reavis Falls Overlook - Brute Force was now a reality. While the goal was sweet we were dazzled by the adventure even more...
4:50am We headed off in the chilly morning air
7:45am Turned into the heart of Reavis Valley. This was John's first visit so we hit the highlights before drifting into my favorite secret (see posted route) orchard. I was amazed we found quite a few red apples at the top of a tree. So I climbed it and sent about a dozen down. We ate in glee and moved on. John spotted some larger green apples further on. We took a few and moved on. As I'm checking out our turnoff point John says "did you eat the green one yet". Nope, not yet. (sheesh, get off my back...lol) When I got around to it the first bite nearly knocked me off my feet. This was hands down among one of the best apples I've had in my life. At this point I was pretty satisfied with the hike already.
We had a little over a mile before the off-trail portion of the hike kicked in. Two ol' boys on horses were coming up on us. Their dog was taunting us a couple times. The one ol' boy was obnoxiously loud and sounded like one of my rural neighbors from back in Oklahoma.
8:38am | 8.65mi Reached the off-trail turnoff. From here it was 1.5mi to the falls. I'd mentioned to John earlier the first half mile should be pretty easy and the rest would be questionable. We starred at the wall of brush, gasped and dug in. Aside from cliffing out once the first mile went relatively well. The views were monumental. Once again I was satisfied with the hike for the second time and we hadn't even reached our goal.
9:46am | 9.66mi | 4,600ft The lip of our major descent had arrived. Here we stood (a little weary eyed and shaky) at 4,600ft. We needed to be in Reavis Creek at 3,700ft in a mere tenth of a mile. I wasn't sure if John was willing to continue. A 900 ft drop in a tenth of a mile is slightly insane so I told him it was a half mile. The trees in the creek below were tiny. On the bright side, the grade down didn't show signs of cliffing out. Though it did turn the stomach a little. While steep the brush looked even more painful.
We gave it a try. Dropping down at what seemed a pretty good rate. The half way mark came within a half hour! It was gnarly to put it lightly. Some of the stuff we just laid back and slid underneath. A few areas were questionable for a return ascent. That creek just got closer by the minute. The chilly morning turned into an easy bake oven. That hundred watt bulb was my forehead and the brownies were done I tell ya. One end-over amazingly netted a near perfect landing and we arrived at the creek in good health.
11:00am | 9.78mi | 3,700ft Sweating like piggies in a blanket, dirty and mentally wrecked by the sun exposure we entered the oasis. A few minutes down creek brought us to a clear pool. Finally we relaxed, washed our faces and I pumped some water. This is one cool place with sycamores covering the creek in the tight corridor. Much like the final approach to Reavis Falls from the bottom. Only here knowing perhaps under 1% of even that crowd has experienced the upper rewards adds to the sensation.
Noon | 10.05mi | 3,507ft The enchanted stroll to the falls gave way to stunning views. Standing on the edge of the balcony was exhilarating to say the least. Pictures, words and such do no justice. Our stay was short lived and we were on our way a half hour later.
2:20pm | 10.83mi | 4,320ft We decided to return by the creek. The feared issue of an impassable fall came in sheer walled fashion. I checked the slim options on the right while John filtered water. The point I got to was ridiculously unsafe and nothing looked good ahead. There may also be another obstacle just beyond, it was difficult to judge. Anyhow, the ledge was just out of reach at about 15 feet but either side rose ferociously. The left may be doable by a climber, but not me. There are no normal person hand holds. It's dirty rotten rock that pulls away easy and it's sheer or overcut just a hair for about 4 to 6 feet after climbing up to the spot to get to it. Alas, after pondering the GPS maps we decided to head down stream to our entry point.
2:45pm | 10.85mi | 4,308ft Only a few minutes down John asked about the left (now right) at this point. It appeared to pan out on my maps so we gave it a go. John headed up while I filtered water. My filter clogged after maybe three ounces. I didn't want to get too far behind so I said screw it and flew up with my light pack. While the first twenty yards seemed par to course there after was simply nasty.
GPS navigation works great when you're moving a couple miles per hour. In these vitually motionless conditions it gets tricky. Luckily we found an option back to the creek. Heading down we found ourselves surrounded by maples in foliage!
3:53pm | 10.94mi | 4,600ft Faster travel in the creek was a relief. The narrow walls quickly dissipated and this one was going to pan out!
4:12pm | 11.24mi | 4,692ft Found a good spot to jump out of the creek and head for the trail. Here we passed through some corrals in a small grassed valley I never knew existed.
7:47pm The hike was set in stone.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.