My hiking partner, Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey, told me of a couple waterfalls worth checking out. Turns out, we were talking about different places. I took a couple scouting trips and still found a waterfall.
The sides of this canyon are near-sheer, making any descent impossible. And given that it is generally not productive to venture to waterfalls from the top, the only way to get in there is to come in from an unincorporated campsite just a ways below where Rock Creek meets Zig Zag Creek. This was a .75-mile trailless hike up the creek. Thankfully, this hike wouldn't be up that creek.
Rock Creek blisters along at a pretty good pace, but Zig Zag Creek is the antithesis of that. It is slow and patient. It is also exquisitely beautiful. The entire way back to the waterfall is flat and, at least with the water at this level, pretty easy, all things considered. The trek is one long series of rock hops. Because of that, for a lot of the way, you are moving almost completely silently. I went a 15-minute stretch where I didn't do anything other than hop boulders down the center of the creek without making any noise. Very enjoyable.
At quite a few locations, the small cascades made some odd sounds:
Once you're up the creek a ways, you start seeing some big trees. Along the north side, there was a section with quite a few trees with large diameters. Along the south side, this was the largest. It was probably close to 6 feet across.
I kept seeing this fuzzy stuff. At first, I thought it was decomposing vegetation, but the more I saw it, the more I thought it was created by an animal of some sort.
I thought this was an odd situation, with the banana slug and the beetle, which was carrying a small slug to snack on. Banana slugs were everywhere up here. This picture looks like a created scene.
A grumpy looking crawdad. I was more than a bit surprised that I didn't see any amphibians, despite the very high quantity of large pools. There were tons of fry and I did see a fish about 6-8 inches long.
I was piddling around this spot, as it was fairly interesting. I checked my GPS and it said I was just around the corner from the waterfall. I remember thinking, "This better be good because this was a lot of work to get back here." As I came around that last corner, I glimpsed the top of the falls and was less than impressed. But, then I saw the rest of it:
This is probably one of the best swimming holes I've found. When you throw in the fact that you are essentially guaranteed to some peace and quiet, it can't really be beat. The bottom is free of brush and entanglements, and looks to be fairly deep. The pool turns this from a "meh" waterfall to a nice location.
I'd think this waterfall would be a bit better during higher water, but considering how many times you have to criss-cross this creek on the way back, the large pools, the brush along the sides...that would be an undertaking.
Playing with the color filter. I couldn't get a good shot of the falls and still have it pick up the green.
I didn't dive in, but the creek above is flat and thin, so it can't be too cold. Also, it is in direct sun all day, so I'm sure it's heaven when it is hot out.
Let's celebrate an awesome waterfall find by breaking out the bubbly!
I couldn't resist taking a few bubble pictures on the way back down. I used the flash on these, which is what makes the bubbles look electrified.