Our group hiked 4 miles from the trailhead to the highest waterfall accessible by trail in the entire national park. The ascent was around 2300 feet (701 meters), virtually the equivalent of walking up to the top of NYC's iconic Empire State Building twice. The waterfall was pretty special, but the biggest treat was passing through old-growth hardwood forests that featured tulip trees, red maples, poplars, hemlocks, yellow birches, mountain silverbells and buckeyes. Some of the trees can reach 150 feet high and be 400 years old. Didn't see any bears (1,500 in the park), but one left a big pile of scat (in layman's terms, shit) on the trail. Judging how my feet felt afterwards and my general condition today, this eight-mile (12.874 kilometers) hike is the most challenging I've done. Fellow hiker Mark Schmidt led the hike, one he's now done a handful of times.
photos by Mark Schmidt