Cataract Falls, Again

Mi and I hiked Cataract Falls during Thanksgiving holiday of 2004. Interesting enough that I recorded that hike in English, too! Maybe there is something about this hike that doesn’t trigger my Chinese speaking mind. Gui and Matthew went there on a separate trip. We’ve been thinking of going again for a while. In our memories, aside from the lovely waterfalls, there were also these endless stairs right next to the waterfalls that we had to climb. Fear of these stairs kept roaring its ugly intimidating head. 420ft elevation gain within the first half mile sounds near-torture.

This year, most of us have been sick throughout the entire January, and hiding indoors through the stormy and cold weather of Febuary. Here comes the first weekend of March, glorious sunny and summer-like warmth. When Gui suggested Cataract Falls on Saturday morning, I agreed to it enthusiastically.

We knew those waterfalls would be nice because of the massive rainfall just ended a couple of days ago. But we had no idea how lovely they actually were! There were so much mater pouring down the mountains that the slightest elevation turned the used-to-be creek into a small waterfall. Water was gushing out and around mossy boulders with so much happiness. The real waterfalls were also more voluptuous than we remembered. As always, the path was lush and moist. Ferns were grown into giants, wild flowers blooming quietly, redwood trees at the foot of the mountain were submerged in all the excessive water.

It was a popular hiking trail, we met many hikers along the way, almost all of them has a dog or two. And all the dogs are wet and happy. We kept on wondering which fall did the dogs dived under, and whether there are any fish live in the pool below each fall?

Along the path I noticed a small flower that seems to thrive to hide from view. Upon close inspection, it has orchid-like delicate flower petals and an intricate structure. But its leaves look like trillium that you often see in a redwood forest.

Gui thought it has to be a kind of orchid. I thought the leaves are so much like trillium, maybe it is somehow related? I don’t remember seeing orchid in a redwood forest before. As we were speculating, I said, well, i could search on the internet when i get home. But that statement of mine reminded me of something more interesting.

January in New York City, when we met up with Alice and James, we also were debating about some random trivia, and I ended it by saying, probably can search it on the net. James laughed and shook his head, “Internet again. It has ruined so many potentially interesting conversation. When the absolute fact is so ready at hand, people stopped speculating for the sake of fun.”

Isn’t that an interesting perspective? I, for one, hasn’t thought about it that way.

Anyway, back in the forest as we were hiking along the fern lined creeks, our speculation about this interesting flower didn’t go very far.

And i had to go on google to find out.

Turned out it is called “Fetid Adder’s Tongue,” and it belongs in the Lily family. Its official name is Scoliopus Bigelovii, and here is a nice collection of flowers in Mountain Tamalpais: Field Guide to Mtn. Tam.

More photos from our yesterday’s hike at Cataract Falls: Bay Area Hiking: Cataract Falls, 3/3/2007