TRIP REPORT PHOTOS
The turnoff for the lower falls trail is located a very short distance before reaching Fachoda Bridge:
Both the upper and lower falls trails share the same hiking route for the first 2 miles.  So the Fachoda Bridge provides an ideal spot for a short break before continuing on:
There was a large display of the pink ground cover flowers near the bridge:
This unusual-looking tree is located right near the beginning of the lower falls trail:
The tree almost looks like it is covered with strands of silk, but these are actually thin vines:
Hardly any dirt visible as the ground is completely covered with greenery and plants:
Typical ground cover along the early part of the trail:
The trees take on an otherworldy look, being completely covered with greenery:
A close-up of one of the trees reveals that no bark is visible, just plants which have taken over the tree:
Two more pictures showing really tall trees which are now serving as a trellis for other plants:
This pyramid-shaped peak came into view above the treetops:
There were more abundant ground cover flowers through this area:
The trail followed along the base of this massive valley wall for a while:
The shades of pink which provided coloring on this plant caught my attention:
The trail begins a long curve to the right while following next to the river:
The next two pictures highlight trees which are hanging over the trail:
As you can see here, the trail soon becomes quite overgrown.  But it was still easy to follow:
The narrow trail continues on the right side of the fast-moving river:
Josh disappearing into some thick brush up ahead:
A graffiti-vandalized sign which is partially covered with mud alerts hikers that the first river crossing is just ahead:
This is what the first river crossing looks like, at least based on the current water levels during our hike:
Looking upstream, there is a large shallow pool with some narrower rapids just beyond:
Upon completing the first crossing, a clearly-defined trail resumes on the other side:
The trail actually cuts a corner in the terrain because the river makes a sharp left a short ways upstream.  That may sound confusing, but it will make sense if you do the hike:
The trail soon returns to the edge of the Fautaua River.  To get down to the river, it is necessary to walk along the rock embankment seen here:
This is the second river crossing.  It is more challenging than the first and requires removing shoes or just walking through the water with them on.  The trail resumes on the other side:
The Fautaua River has some beautiful spots along this stretch:
Notice the small water cascades which are pouring down the hillside in this area:
A muddy sign alerts hikers to the dangers of rockfall in the gorge area:
Josh walking along the riverbank, completely enclosed by thick brush on all sides:
Off to the left, the narrow gorge begins.  To the right, these old concrete steps must be climbed to continue on the trail:
A closer look at the steep and slippery concrete steps, which have an assistance rope hanging down for help:
The narrow gorge looks like a nice swimming hole in between canyon walls if water level and weather conditions permit:
Looking down on a section of rapids while walking along the gorge rim portion of the trail in the next two pictures:
This portion of the trail is high above the river and there are a few spots with minor exposure.  During wet conditions, caution is definitely in order:
This is the only view of Fautaua Waterfall before reaching the base of it at the end:
At this point, the continuous river crossings begin.  So be ready and don't bother removing your shoes:
This is an interesting spot because the only practical route to continue the hike without wading through rapids is to crawl through this cave on the left bank:
The trail becomes much more faint (when it exists at all), so good navigational abilities are critical:
Would you be able to find your way through this challenging section?:
During our hike, the occasional orange ribbon tied to a tree provided some reassurance we were on the correct path:
The next two pictures show additional river crossings that we did.  Eventually, the route became too challenging to photograph, so I put my camera away for a while:
After 45 minutes of river crossings and navigating obscure trails, we arrived at the base of Lower Fautaua Waterfall:
Lower Fautaua Waterfall panoramic 1
Top-to-bottom panoramic showcasing the entire height of Lower Fautaua Waterfall (click to enlarge):
This angle was taken further to the right to showcase more of the amazing water curve at the top of the falls:
The large pristine pool located at the base of the falls:
This angle of the waterfall was taken further to the left:
Lower Fautaua Fall panoramic 2
A second panoramic showcasing the entire height of Lower Fautaua Waterfall as seen from the left side (click to enlarge):
Zooming in on the water curve at the top half of the falls:
A close-up of the very top of Lower Fautaua Waterfall:
Josh taking a dip in the pool at the base of the falls (and making me slightly nervous because of rockfall dangers):
Getting a picture with Lower Fautaua Waterfall in the background:
Two final pictures of Lower Fautaua Waterfall before beginning the hike back to our vehicle:
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