I have a book of Northern California natural swimming holes. So far I have only been to one (which I knew about even before I had the book). University falls. I believe it is called that because UC Berkely's dept. of forestry owns/operates/does something up there. I believe the real name though is Pilot falls. Anyway, due to the request of one of my favorite people, Britt, we planned a trip for this passed Sat.
Things got off to a bit of a rocky start as people kept joining and flaking and rejoining. We also ended up having to rent a car due to a lack of car ownership that is common in San Francisco. From the get go it was the makings of a good day in the sun.
We stopped at a market in Davis (I love this little town). Where Britt and I proceeded to relieve the fruit sampler tray of all its goodies. We then wandered the isles in awe of the wonderful assortment of healthy, low priced, beautifully placed foodies. I ended up opting for the cheapest thing I could find, as per usual (thanks John for the phrase), a crumby breakfast burrito. Which I later would decide had too much bacon. This is not a decision that I make easily, for me and meat go way back and for there to be too much of it....well, lets just say that that would have to be a lot, lot, lot of meat. Anyway, I met a nice woman who worked behind the deli counter and told her that l bet her Spanikopita wasn't as good as my Moms. She totally took the bait and offered to cut me a piece. I was visibly giddy and this made her smile. It was better than I thought. It had plenty of Feta, which l find is usually lacking, which nicely balanced out the bitterness of the spinach. The nice woman then offered Brittany a piece, which she declined, even though I was ordering/commanding her not to through my gritted teeth. I then scolded her in the same manner. We later made a deal that if anything is ever offered to you, take it, because the other one of us will probably eat it....
We arrived in George Town around 11:30, maybe. Stopped at the market there for a pee break. I looked for some sunglasses, I had recently broken my loc's in a store front make out battle. None were to be found. Well, we ended up hanging out by the porta potty for waaaayyy too long (everyone opted to do their business behind it instead of inside....it smelled that bad).
Finally arriving at our location....well, almost our location, the fire road that is the beginning of our hour long hike to our final destination. We parked our cars at the entrance and then, after an hour of sunscreen/lubrication/dirty joked headed on down to the falls. Like I said, its about an hour long hike and there are plenty of side trails to help you lose your way. Back when I first started coming to the falls it was like a scavenger hunt. There were arrows made of tree bark that people would leave laying on the ground. Ribbons tied to trees marking the right trail, cool little things like this to push you on. This time there was none of that...bummer.
Some entertaining things on the trail. Gayatri twisted her ankle in an attempt to taste the trail...only a mild twist and a dirty front torso. I don't think anyone else at it. Oh, and Right before the falls we came upon an abandoned branco. It looked like some no toothed, hill billy tried to drive the trechery and failed. The abbandoned branco was full of empty bud cans and had been stripped of its innards....hill billies.
Arrival at the falls. When ever I bring people here I always get a bit nervous that they are going to not just be dissapointed, but be pissed at me for making them take the 2.5hr drive and the 1hr hike to get to this place. But no, everyone in the group was super excited. I think the beauty of the canyon, the smooth granice falls dropping, the crystal clear pools, and the mountains surrounding is just breath taking and it always wins 'em over.
We all layed out on the warm granit for a while picking up the heat and beginning to perspire. It only took a few minutes before we were up and ready to slide. The first fall is small, maybe 8'. The pool is a bit shallow, 6' or so, so be sure to bend your legs as you enter. Oh man!!! That water is cooooo-old. The exit isn't so graceful either. As you have to scramble/belly crawl along the mossy granit. Standing on the rock above the second fall you can feel your blood pumping warmth back into your arms and legs and back. Your lungs almost hurt and your face is stiff. You heat up quickly in a canyon made of granite and we were soon ready for the second slide. This fall as well as the next are both probably about 12'-15' tall. The pools are much bigger as well. The water in these pools somehow doesn't feel so cold. Don't get me wrong, its frigid, but it is borderline tolerable. But the heat makes that cool water a welcome jolt. These three falls are the standard, everyone does these. There is, however, a fourth fall. This fall is at the end of the canyon. From the first fall it looks like the granite just drops away. This fall is the coolest. The water slided over about 9' of granite before it is shot over the lip and drops another 8' into a pool not much bigger than an average hot tub. This 'tub' then spilles over and down about 100 or so feet of rock/pool/falls. From the top it looks like you are going to get shot gunned right over the edge.
Sliding down you can't help but think, "oh $hi#!!". When you land in the pool, not only are you thanking God, but you are deffend by the water crashing down all around you. To get out of this one you must swim to the lip where the water is spilling over and use a rope to help you scale up the slippery rock. Apparently only a few weeks ago there was a kid who had to be evacuated by helocopter from falling down the rocks.
We did this a number of time, with rests on the warm rocks to regain our heat/strenght, before calling it a day and heading back into the fog that we all knew was waiting for us back in San Francisco.
Highlights of the day...
-getting to be buddies with Brett again.
-getting to share this amazing place.
-great talks with Brittany about love, relationships, friendship, our crew, life, farts, farting in bed, etc...
-becoming totally lost following Gayatri in Oakland.
-Sleeping a much needed sleep and dreaming much needed dreams.