Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey and I headed back up the McKenzie to Linton Lake and found an extremely impressive and well-rounded area.
The trail to the lake was high quality and fairly easy going, so...we left it to head down to the lake where there was no trail. Whose bright idea was that again? Oh yeah, mine...
Linton Lake is a fairly good-sized lake, though this just shows the narrow western point. If you look closely at the fog…
…you can see a very large waterfall up there. We could hear the roar from the creek and the multiple large waterfalls from about ½ mile away.
On the southwest side, there is a lava field. The lava field is very large, relatively dangerous to cross, and would take quite a while to get through…so we headed out over it.
Interestingly, we found a few crawdads clinging to life out in the middle of the lava with no water to be seen for a few hundred yards. Our best theory was that there are pools below the lava that connect back to the lake. At a few places, we saw pooled water deep into the lava.
I just could not figure out how to get a nice shot, so I took one that simply documented the very cool look of algae covering the lava rocks just under the water’s surface.
If you look close, you’ll see a tiny teal-colored speck of dirt caught in the camera lens somewhere near the middle.
We didn’t keep track of how long we took to cross this, but it felt like hours. It may look like a pile of rocks, but most steps caused cracking under your feet. This cracking was not necessarily the rock you were stepping on, but the rocks that those rocks were sitting on. It is very disconcerting to step on a rock and hear a hollow sounding crack 20' below where you are standing.
This picture doesn’t show it very clearly, but the same large fall(s) is (are) visible in the fog over halfway up the mountain.
These were my first attempts at taking a reflection picture. They’re so overdone and kitchy, but I always wondered how tough it was to get a good one.
Once out of the lava field, we scooted the rest of the way around the lake towards Linton Creek. It was moving fast and surprisingly deep, leaving us struggling to find a spot to cross. My strategery in these circumstances is to always hang as close to the creek as possible, leaving the game trails behind. I took the low road, Jeremiah took the high road.
This little island was a neat looking spot that didn't translate well to pictures. (Note - "Hey idiot, there's a panoramic feature on that camera!"),,I thought there would be a crossing somewhere nearby. As Jeremiah slipped away up the mountain along a game trail, I hopped on out to the island.
The moss-covered log was my first option to cross. It wasn’t as slick as it looked, but it was as skinny as it looks. I made it out about 3 feet or so, then turned around because this little thing a ways behind me caught my eye:
As I came back up to the log, I noticed a larger one just to my left that didn’t go to the other side, but it gave me a clear view of…
…this. I could see this log from the skinny one, but thought it didn’t reach the island.
At this point, Jeremiah was lost on the other side. My idea of leaving the good trail, heading down to the lake, and crossing the lava field cost us at least an hour (okay, probably 2...), while him going gonzo and leaving the creek cost us another 30-45 minutes. If we’d have kept on the main trail to begin with, it’d have saved us at least 2 1/2 - 3 hours. But there are many, many things worse than wasting time messing around in this area with a good friend. In fact, there are few things better.
For whatever reason, I often end up plowing to some massive, off-trail waterfall, when my favorite thing to do is crawl up a lonesome creek with no waterfalls. It's funny that I have the freedom to choose where to go, yet the places always end up choosing me.
This is Lower Linton Falls, which is about 85 feet or so. I think we guessed it was about 100 at the time. We probably could have scrambled down a little bit to get a better view, but due to our indiscretions of a dawdling nature, we just did not have the time.
This is on a little point which is quite solid. There is a nice, large tree which allows you to lean on while you look over.
From the precipice, looking back down the creek.
The trail along the creek is technically unofficial, but it’s one of the best unofficial trails I’ve ever been on. We made it to Linton Falls with thighs burning, as even with the good trail, it’s still pretty steep.
In person, this fall has a strong physical presence to go along with its fair looks. Whether it’s forced perspective or the camera or the picture-taker, the pictures I took made it look a little less imposing.
There are actually more falls above what is seen in the picture (not only more of the fall, but separate ones) but because of the time issue, we headed back.
I have to say, that’s one of my favorite pictures. A guy and his dog, an impressive piece of water (slightly obscured), a cool tree just off-center-right, the camera has moisture on the lens. There's something endearing about the way Nikons screw up a picture that makes it look good in a way that you couldn't get if you tried and knew what you were doing. If I was going to pick out my Top 10, this would be the first one I’d sort onto the list.
And same one with a "60's" filter.
Somehow, this did not break the camera. I definitely didn’t plan it this way, but I ended up on a high spot and Jeremiah ended up in a low spot, turning our 2 inch height difference into a 6 inch one. This caused his stature to more closely match his garden gnome-like features.
Out of thousands of pictures I've taken while on these adventures, this is still the only one I've printed out and hung up for my own enjoyment.
Interestingly, I have my doubts about whether we ever reached the falls that are visible from across the lake. Sometimes I think we did and most of the time, I think we didn’t. The falls seen from a distance bend along the right, while Lower Linton Falls, more or less, goes straight down (and is a little heavier on the left), and Linton Falls are obviously sitting on the left side of the creek. Not to mention that the distant fall shows one good-sized fall directly above another, while the two we came across were quite a ways apart.
After staring at Google Earth for far too long, I've realized that Linton Falls, on the far right, is the lower portion of the fall visible from across the lake. The portion on the top is a portion of the falls we were not able to see directly and is probably just out of sight.
Just before we made it to the car, we ran into a pack of ninjas heading to the lake for combat. Not joking.
So, we have the beautiful mountain lake with a really interesting lava field, we have Linton Creek itself, and we have multiple large waterfalls. All separately are worth the trip, but together form one of the most impressive areas I’ve ever been to. And this definitely won’t be the last time we head in there.