Flat Rock Falls – The Bottom

The waterfall which drew my blood last summer put up one last heroic fight to keep its secrets.  It lost.

This is a screen grab off video taken from 1.25 miles away (I've since lost the video, it seems).  No blood, lotsa waterfall.  This is actually the left fall.  The one on the right is obscured by that ridge with the tall fir trees.  On Google Earth, they measure out at over 400'.  Actually getting down to the falls isn't going to be easy, but I'll do it at some point.  The descent down measures out at around 1000' elevation drop in just 0.5 miles.  Ouch...

What first started as a lethargic wander through a topographic map while, looking for something interesting up Little River,  I noticed a large area with few roads and a forked creek, the faintest "falls" near blurring brown lines.  Looking at the spot on Google Earth showed it was a twin waterfall that measured in the 400' range.  I thought that there could be no way this was going to be as interesting as it seemed.  My first venture to find it earned me 7 staples on the top of my head.  Later trips saw me hike fruitlessly through driving rain and snow.  All in all, I saw my first cougar, bear, bear carcass, and learned a lot.

About a mile before my drop zone, I saw a cinnamon colored bear trotting down the road.  This was the first bear I've seen in the wild.  It looked exactly like this picture I found online.  It was large enough that when it first came into view, it looked like a long-haired horse from about 30 yards away.  I'm guessing its shoulders would have cleared the hood of the car.  After about 5 seconds of rumbling down the road, it scooted off into the brush.

After I took the last turn, the road became heavily overgrown with trees, to the point where I almost gave up on that spot and drove to the other side of the creek.  Instead, I dropped off the mountain to see what I could find.  There is no path, only intersecting game trails.

I saw this pile of bones about 3/4 to the bottom of the canyon.  Just before this, I was feeling the squeeze of the remoteness of this area.  It takes a bit of adjustment to operate on foot in a place of sheer solitude.  Initially, I thought it was a deer while breezing past, but gave it one last look and noticed the large canine teeth.  Upon comparison to other skulls online, it is from a black bear.  Within an hour, I saw a live bear and a carcass.  Certainly a rare feat of luck.

It wasn't long after I came across this find that I found something I'd rather not come across again.  As I stepped on and over a large blowdown, my foot scraped on the other side of the tree.  I paused to look where to go next and heard a buzzing sound, then felt the first sting.  All in all, I got stung three times in the face before I took off running and got stung once in the hand and arm.  As I looked back to the fallen tree, I saw bees swarming around a small hole where I stepped.  Awesome.

Finally at the bottom, I took inventory: hard hike down, stung in the face multiple times, hydration pack was out of water, approaching 95 degrees outside, I have no energy.  And...I still had yet to reach the waterfall, then somehow back up to the car.  These off-trail adventures are not for everyone.

At my point of highest frustration, I see what I first thought was a cloud rolling past through the trees. Nope, it was falling water.  The falls were still 1/10 of a mile away at this point and the only thing between them and me were log jams to crawl over.  This place puts up a fight, and the trees were old and second growth, so they were very large, which are not easy to climb and scoot over.  It took about 20 minutes to get there, even while moving quickly.

This is the left fall and it is the one viewable from the road 1.25 miles away.  From there, you only see the top half, but from here, you really only see the bottom half.

These 3 photos are of the area, left to right, from the same vantage point, more or less.  Left fall, center dry area, right fall.

The falls on the right from below.  I was just too tired to scamper up and get a better view.

Here's some video I shot before heading back up.

I then started the daunting trudge back up to the road.

I stumbled across this view unintentionally.  I was following the topo lines with the largest spaces between them, which led me to the hump overlooking the falls.  I do believe I stood near those trees on that rock across the creek.  I took a slightly different path back up, this time staying away from the creek and instead going with the visually least-difficult path while maintaining course.  At the top, there was a thick clump of fir trees between me and the car.  I took my sunglasses off so I wouldn't scratch them, lowered my head and started plowing through.  Right at the end, I peeked up to see how much further and took the end of a branch to my eyeball.  A comprehensive look back at my experience with this place reveals a Three Stooges movie.

This was the end of a multi-trip near-obsession with this waterfall.  Time to move on to something else.  After about 15 minutes looking around the topographic maps and Google Earth, I had a bunch of new places to explore.

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