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Fallingwater Cascades to Flat Top- (7-18-09) So my wife unexpectedly got the weekend off (too many hours) and we decided to hit the trails. We got a late start and didn't arrive until about one o' clock. I was afraid it would be right in the middle of the heat of the day, but I don't think the temperature broke 65. In July. Are you kidding me??? That would've never happened in Durham. So the trail to the falls is a 1.6 mile loop and we took the right trail as we were also heading to Flat Top. It descended gently amidst a nice forest where the greens were very vivid. We crossed a bridge and then came upon the falls. My wife took some nice shots and we continued along the trail. The way up was quite steep in places and passed a funny looking tree in the shape of a gun. Once we crossed the BRPW we immediately got on the Flat top trail. The sign said 2.6 miles so we got started. It was fairly level and I can remember thinking that this wasn't really even like hiking. That thought would change as we encountered switchback after switchback. The terrain became more rocky as we passed a few boulder fields. With the temps in the 60's though it really didn't bother us. The oceans of ferns were plainly evident and I got the feeling of being in a magical forest. The trees were large in places and the boulders increased in size as we continued to climb. This was the first time I felt the weight of Dante though, and I had to stop a couple of times. I guess he is getting heavier or I'm getting older. We eventually came to a spur trail that would take us to Cross Rock. It was only one tenth of a mile, but it was severely steep. Not many people must come this way, because there wasn't a lot of wear on the trail. Once we got to cross rock, it was just as the name implied. One huge boulder crossing over another huge boulder. If I didn't have Dante, I would've tried to climb on it. Once we got back on the main trail we had to rest and it seemed like a good time to feed Dante. Only take that spur trail if you are very fit as it was brutal coming back up. We kept climbing and the trail remained rocky and steep. We saw a couple of short trails off to the left, and then took one (a nice man and his 2 kids told us to stay left). We came to a flat sheet of rock that was nicely warmed by the sun. Bedford fell away from us as we were on top of the world. The breezes were constant and after feeding Dante again, we were headed back down. The only gripe I have about this hike is that the Pinnacle and summit is not clearly marked. I don't know if we reached the Pinnacle or the top of Flat Top, so I am sure I will hike this again.
The trail down was a magical journey. The sunlight was filtering through the leaves of the trees and sounded as if we were surrounded by rushing water. As we descended the leaves danced before the wind and seemed to applaud with every gust. It was delightfully cool as Mo took the lead and I followed. Not many words were spoken and I liked that. It allowed me to enjoy this wonderful trip. The switchbacks and the rocky terrain were tough on the knees but it was worth it. Dante slept most of the way which was great. Near the end of the Fallingwater loop, he started becoming upset and Mo took him and carried him the short distance to the parking lot. We didn't see any wildlife (other than squirrels, a chipmunk, and a bunch of millipedes), but the temperature and beauty of the forest more than made up for it. 5/5
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