A Tale of Two Falls

I had been curious about an obscure waterfall on the south side of the North Umpqua River for quite a while and decided to hunt it down.

On the drive in, foxgloves were everywhere...

Like I said...everywhere!

Funny thing is that by taking all the colors except pink and lowering the darkness, it made these beautiful flowers look a little ominous.

This is one of those that looks cooler the closer you view it:

Yes, selective color is cheezy and was overdone a decade ago.  But...it still can add some things to a picture and it can also look really neat.  And I like it.

Stumbled across this little pond.  Lots of wildlife in there, but no banks, so I just had to peer from a distance. Tons of bass, quite a few rough-skinned newts (but only very small ones), frogs, birds.  Very peaceful.  I stood at this spot longer than any other place during the day.

Looking back up Susan Creek across HWY 138.

Odd about this area is that it is difficult to access from Highway 138, yet it is right next to it.  Much easier to come in off Little River.  For the first half of this trip, the traffic sounds were very loud from the highway.

Very cool volcanic geology through this part.  There is a columnar basalt line that runs along this entire section of the road, looking almost like a zipper.

Large columnar basalt formation a little ways after The Zipper.

I got out of the car shortly after that rock and went after Mile 44 Falls.

This was one of the more enjoyable forest walks I've had.  It is gorgeous in here.  And flat.  There's an old decommissioned road to follow (sort of).

From there, navigating wasn't too hard...until the very end and I had to cross a boulder field that was covered in vegetation which grew on huge, unsteady rocks.  Fun over at that point.  This picture is right before the boulder field.  But, the waterfall sat just after it.  It couldn't sit before the boulder field, it had to sit after it.  Of course it did.

Basically none of my macro plant photos turned out.  Some beautiful sections of tiny plant life, though.

Directly up from those plants is this columnar basalt wall.

This is about where the wheels fell off this hike.  The basalt wall has been decaying for eons, leaving the forest floor below a random pile of rocks.  The ground between these rocks was covered in dead leaves, meaning you couldn't tell if it was dirt or empty space.  It took quite a while just to go a few hundred yards.

"This better be worth it."

"Yeah, about that..."  Nope.  This creek doesn't ever get much water flowing.  Surprising that something like this is actually labeled as "Falls" on the topographic maps.  I was going to take some video here and as soon as I pulled the camera out of my pocket, traffic along HWY 138 became obnoxious again, so I headed back. (Note - I now wonder if this was the actual waterfall or if the large one is hidden up above it.)

Beyond the fall, the basalt wall continues.  I stood and looked around for a few minutes, making sure I wasn't missing anything important since I knew I'd never be back.

My other place to hit on this day was an unnamed waterfall.  Because it showed up small on Google Earth, I promptly forgot about it.  A reader named Evan Topinka ("Someone reads this thing...?") reminded me of it, sent a picture, and said that I had to go.  I gave it a shot.

As soon as I started walking down an old logging road, I heard the machine gun sound of a woodpecker on a dead tree.  It was very loud and I could tell it was on a tree not far away.  It then went silent for a few minutes and I forgot about it.  That was until I walked under the tree it had been pounding away on. Huge, hollow, dead tree.  Monster-sized woodpecker.  Good for a hefty startle, which was probably the bird's intent.

The road was filled with thigh-high grass and daisies.  Butterflies were everywhere.  This pacific fritillary turned out a bit blurry.

Cinnebar moth.  Odd that it is obviously red, but when these flew, they were obviously bright pink.  I thought the ones flying and the ones like this were different until this one took off.  Underneath, they are sort of a blue color and bright pink instead of being blackish and red as they are on top.

These are bird's foot trefoil and they are nice little flowers.

It is a short bushwack from the end of the old road to the creek.  Except I left the road a bit too soon and was reminded quickly that this creek is a vengeful creature.  It is beautiful and impressive in many ways, but it is one of the more rugged creeks I've been on.  After scrambling over garage-sized boulders and through logjams big enough to fill a swimming pool, I saw this wall rising through the trees:


My estimation is that it is between 85-100 feet tall.  Overall, this is one of the coolest locations I've seen. Pictures do not translate very well the effect of being there in person.  Big thanks to Evan for sending the info along.

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