I should have known better, but I got Eagle Creek Fever and totally forgot that I hate to be on crowded trails. I managed to spend most all of last year off the beaten trail, but curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see how the trail had changed since the fire.
I arrived at the parking lot around 7:20 am, and was able to get a spot close to the trail head, but it quickly filled up around me as I waited for a few friends from my covid hiking crew to arrive.
We all masked up, and faced the fact that even with an early start we were going to be sharing the trail with a lot of people.
I found it hard to stop for photos, there was always someone either ahead or behind, or groups of trail runners swooping past. Most wore masks while passing, but many did not. We did not go down to the punchbowl, the water was raging and with the wall slide we didn't think we would see much. However, we saw a good view of the damage from above.
With the missing undergrowth and loss of trees (and the huge amount of rain) I saw more waterfalls than I have ever seen on this hike.
Eventually, we ran into a what looked like a fresh slide, and I started to get the feeling I should have listened to my hunch that recent rains would wreak havoc on the already unstable slopes. We passed it, and continued on. Eventually we ran into another slide, this one worse - and decided to call it. The crowds just kept coming and I just didn't want to deal with it anymore.
Next time, I'll wait it out for more stable weather, and try for an earlier start time.