For some time, I had been hoping to get out for a overnight backpack trip. The reasons were two-fold: to get away for a couple of days, after the hard work of the Advent/Chrismtas season… but also to test some new backpacking gear. Feather Falls had been on my bucket list for some time, and I managed to get a couple of days of clear weather so quickly packed up and headed north up to the trailhead near Oroville.
Those who know me well, know that I have a variety of foot problems, and I have been on a quest to find the perfect hiking boots. After weeks of research and trying on many boots, I settled on a pair of a new Vasque boot, the Talus WP. I had spent several weeks breaking them in on morning walks, and this was my first hike in them.
The trail starts in a shady mixed forest of conifers, oaks, and ferns. It was a sunny clear day, but still pretty chilly. After a few miles, the trail breaks out into the open, and things warm up a little bit, and before long the spur trail to the overlook appears. A short downhill trail and some stairs takes one to a stunning cliffside overlook, with a straight on view of the falls. Feather Falls is really spectacular… the highest waterfall in California outside of Yosemite. With all of the wet weather we’ve had, the water flow was very high and very impressive. After a lot of picture taking, it was time to move on and find a campsite for the night.
The trail continues up the Fall River for another half mile or so, and I found a well established riverside campsite, and dropped my pack for the day. The next part of new gear-testing involved a new ultralight tent which I recently purchased… a Big Agnes Fly-Creek UL1. The tent was easily set up in under ten minutes, and while not spacious, has a lot more room than the bivy shelter it replaced. And at two pounds, it lightens my pack weight considerably.
It got cold quite early in the evening, and was pushing freezing temps before 10 pm. I was thankful for the miracle of merino wool and high quality goose down! In the morning I awoke to a thick layer of frost and cloudy conditions, so packed up to head back to the trailhead.
One minute after I arrived back at my car, it started to rain… timing is everything! All in all it was a great trip, in spectacular country, and this time of year, complete solitude.
Equipment list for you gearheads:
Osprey Atmos 50 backpack
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 tent
MontBell UL Down hugger sleeping bag
Big Agnes insulated air core mattress
Thermarest 3/4 z-pad
MSR Superfly stove/Primus kettle
Smartwool versa-weight t-shirt
Beyond custom softshell convertible pants
Ibex Merino wool hoody
MontBell UL down jacket & pants
REI eVent rain shell jacket/hat
Darn Tough merino hiking socks
Vasque Talus WP boots
Click here for full photo album!