We were convinced that the "nice" part of the trail, the part that makes it famous, must be the four miles still to the north of us. After yesterday's long trudge through viewless woods, we weren't going to head back until we got a taste of it. We left our camping gear set up and took light daypacks with us to explore.
This was the trail that we'd been looking for. It was enchantingly beautiful, rugged, and isolated. The trail passes through fields of huge boulders, traverses long beds of loose, rounded rocks, and continually rises and falls.
The creek creeps through a thick, rich forest, trickling over uncountable waterfalls. If the water had been warmer, and if there'd been more of it, there would have been many excellent watering holes for swimming. As it was, the cool water was good for our aching feet, and more tolerable once they went numb.
Instead of trying to hoof it all the way to end of the trail, we elected to slow down and enjoy our time in the valley. After several hours we returned to camp, packed up our gear, and began lugging our heavy packs back towards Foster Falls. We ended the day in a zombie-shuffle to the car just before sunset.
It was a 25-mile weekend. Next time, we'll focus our visit on the northernmost section of the trail.