Winter Waterfalls

It is teeechnically not winter yet, but with days getting shorter and Christmas in the air, it feels like it! And just like Seattle, we are in the midst of a rainy season. Sure, it’s shorter (November - March) and less intense, but it makes me excited for the waterfalls and ferny forests dripping in rain and fog. It turns out there is a word for this fresh, earthy smell after the first rain: petrichor!

So, what’s new? I wanted to share with you that over the next several weeks, I’m super excited to be working on a series of waterfall hikes in Northern California for Modern Hiker. I’ve learned so much writing about urban San Francisco hikes these past few months, and at the same time, I’m happy to be getting back into the forest, especially now that waterfall season has started.

Here are two hikes with waterfalls I’ve been working for Modern Hiker. I hope you will enjoy them when they are published (likely in January), but for now, here are a couple of my favorite pictures to kick-off the season.

1. Golden Gate Park. Huntington Falls is a 110-foot artificial waterfall in Golden Gate Park that drops into Stow Lake. It is really quite beautiful with multiple tiers and a large vertical drop at the end for some drama. On the left and right of the falls are steep stone steps that you can climb to overlooks of the falls and Stow Lake. At the bottom are stone steps that are fun to hopscotch over to cross the waterfall’s path.

2. Mount Tamalpais. The Cataract Falls Trail has over a half dozen cataracts flowing down Cataract Creek on the northwest side of Mount Tamalpais. Hiking south against the northward flow of the falls, you are treated to rapids, stair-step cataracts, fan-shaped falls, and horsetail rivulets. The coast redwood forest here is equally beautiful, with redwoods, bay laurel, sword fern, nutmeg, tan oak, maple, Douglas fir, and lots of green moss—similar to Steep Ravine and Muir Woods. I was lucky to visit on a foggy day and it really makes the colors so beautiful—almost glowing against the grey dampness.

This December, Onur pointed out to me that we’ve experienced each month of the year in California. The sunny and windy weather we arrived to in January is a familiar face. It probably helps that I’ve learned to take a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses whenever I go outside :) And wear long sleeves :) It’s too early to get sentimental about the changes we’ve gone through this year, but that will come soon.

Here’s the truth. I know this for sure: We are not defined by the challenges in our lives, but how we face them.
— Oprah Winfrey

Onur and I also reminisced about meeting each other nine years ago. There is a lot in my life I couldn’t have predicted, but the number one thing is what an adventure I’d have with Onur—everything from learning about Turkish culture to traveling to Turkey to meeting Onur’s family to learning how to cook Turkish food, and now living in California. I remember thinking early on in our marriage how joyful and terrifying it is to love someone with your whole heart. How comforting it is to have a partner who you are deeply, emotionally connected to. How lucky I am to have someone who simultaneously challenges me and sticks up for me, who nudges me to pursue my passions, and who makes me laugh.

What will the new year bring? I’m not going to even try to predict it :)

Have a great weekend :)

Melissa