Gorgeous Gorge,
Ferny Canyon, and Beyond
September 10, 2006

I had grand plans for the upcoming fall hiking season, and I needed to get in shape. The training began with a three-mile trek up Randy Wilson’s Gorgeous Gorge and Ferny Canyon. As I was lacing my boots in the parking area I said to myself “this is a mistake”, because it wasn’t just warm outside, it was hot. But as soon as I hopped down into the middle of the small stream bed, around 11 a.m., the air felt 20 degrees cooler.
With the creek being so dry, I wasn’t concerned with trying to document the scenery with the camera, though some things were worth photographing. There was a thousand times more of the odd-looking liverwort plant than I’d seen in any other location. My utterly unscientific description is to say it’s a leafy moss. It was growing and spreading all over a small natural basin eroded into a huge expanse of solid bedrock.
Tiny wild strawberries found in several different locations directly in the dry stream bed were a big surprise. And Gorgeous Gorge was a sight too interesting to pass up with the camera
The overhanging bluff of Ferny Canyon was the biggest revelation of the trip. “I sure wish the boys could see this” was my first thought. I’m sure to return some day and spend more time there and hopefully get some better pictures.
The half mile above Ferny Canyon was a steep, boulder-filled gully, and the only way to move upstream was along the hillside. Man was it rough! Eventually the stream bed flattened out. My goal was to reach a spot two tenths of a mile farther, where the creek forks. At that location was somebody's... cabin, shed, something... it was a structure with a lot of junk around it. I was worried about getting shot at or attacked by some evil hillbilly guard dogs so I quickly but quietly turned around and got the heck out of there.
As I headed back downstream I stayed uphill to the west of the creek. I came to the base of a tall limestone bluff and followed it. There was a ledge about 15 feet up. I reached a spot with a cave opening above the ledge. Down at my level, a wide section of the bluff was covered with green moss with a distinct pattern of vertical lines (shown in the picture at the top of this page) telling me that in wetter times a waterfall poured out of the cave and over the ledge. The flat ground I had been walking on suddenly changed to a steep slope, and I was forced to head downhill along a treacherous hillside composed of loose chert and limestone. About a hundred yards down I reached the creek and followed it, making it back to the truck after sundown with barely enough light to see.