Lost Creek Falls – 2005

This is the tale of one of the more impressive places I've been.  This set of pictures is from a few trips back in 2005.

The Oregon Coast Range holds many interesting places, but many are out of protective control.  Lost Creek Falls is about a 50' waterfall, making it nothing special on that front.  The creek has a moderate flow that dries quickly in the summer and can dwindle in the cold of winter.  But what it lacks in height and power, it makes up for in atmosphere. And it's that atmosphere that rockets it to the top of off-the-beaten-path hiking destinations in Southern Oregon.

This is the trailhead.

Short and steep.

One type of tree growing symbiotically on another.

More steepness.

This slightly out-of-focus shot shows where things start to get interesting.  There is a boulder and a drop-off.  Prior hikers made a make-shift log ladder heading down.  You can see a knotted rope.  It isn't really necessary right here, but comes in handy just after you get down off the log.

Looking down from the log ladder.
Looking up at someone being helped to gather the courage to get moving.  This is pretty steep, if not mostly vertical. And muddy.  Not impossible without the rope, but much safer with it.
And it's not even the hardest rope descent.  This is:

Not much further down the path is this fun spot.  It's about 20 feet or so of sheer descent on a bare rock face. The only safe way down is to face the rock, lean away from the rock, and trust the rope.  I took 4 trips to this area around this time and everyone who either went or heard of the adventures got nervous about going through these two spot because of the ropes.  Looking back at some of the hairy situations I got myself into between 2005 and now, I've been in similar spots without those ropes and had to will myself through them.  I don't find the ropes scary at all.  I find they remove the scary.  It's all a matter of perspective.

After the last sheer descent, the trail normalizes and you focus on the roar from the falls.

The falls pour down onto a huge boulder.  Thing about that boulder is has a massive amount of water dumped on it, yet it still has some very jagged points at the top.  The rock is either made of an extremely hard element or fell fairly recently (in geologic terms).  Or both.

The most impressive thing about this location is the cavern behind the waterfall.  What makes that cavern most interesting is the thick rock rim.

I don't know how many pictures I have taken since I started doing this, probably 15,000?  If I had to collect my 10 favorites out of all of them, this picture would be the first to cross my mind.  Even 8.5 years later, after seeing it countless times, it still brings a little bit of wispy joy and a slight smile.  I find that I stare at it, wishing that it was not a picture, but a portal I could step back through.  Realizing that I can't push myself through, I try and pull it to me instead and hope that does the trick.

Like all magical places we find outdoors, this one transports us back in time a bit.  It feels like dinosaurs should be plodding around.  If not dinosaurs, then at least sabertooth tigers and camels and other animals just out of reach of our history.

Here is a collection of videos I took back then that look like they were taken with a toaster.

They were filmed with an old HP camera.  It is the same one some of these pictures were taken with.  Others were taken with actual film cameras of varying types.  Maybe disposable ones.  I honest don't remember but I'm pretty sure they were disposable.
I just noticed that I could get trade-in credit for the HP camera and got a bit excited.  It is currently residing in the kitchen junk drawer (because I just don't have the heart to throw it away).  $0.17 in trade in value.  I have to say I am curious how Amazon calculates that amount.
Just up the trail before the falls is a crack in the rock wall right before you hit the cavern.  The bottom is visible via daylight but not the top, nor back inside very far.  The first trip, I stood right next to the crack and flipped on a flashlight and saw these:

Monstrously huge cave crickets inches away from my face.  I don't remember the exact words I blurted out, but I am pretty sure they'd get me in hot water from my grandmothers .  These are the largest bugs I have seen in the wild. The antennae of the closest one was waving around, less than a foot away.

On another trip, I stood a bit further back before turning on my light.  There were hundreds of the smaller black ones with a few of the larger reddish ones wading through the crowd.  It was very creepy and I didn't hang around long.

Most waterfalls are not very interesting at their precipice.  This one is because of the rim of the cavern.

Lost Creek Falls instantly became one of my favorite destinations.  I made 4-5 trips over just a couple months, bringing friends into there who normally don't go hiking much.  The area is owned by a local timber company and the nearby areas were being clear cut at an alarming rate.  The thought was that Lost Creek Falls would be spared the fate.  It wasn't.  In 2007, the area along the trail-side was clear cut down to the minimal riparian boundary set-backs.  The falls are still there, nothing short of a cataclysmic geologic event will change that.  But the experience that made it enjoyable is gone.  The luster has been worn off.  A name that once filled my head with wonder now fills it with remorse and lost opportunities.

I've always found it to be a bit of a tragedy that government agencies and private timber companies could not find enough common ground to make sure these spots could be protected.  Why is Grotto Falls an advertised tourist destination while a significantly more fascinating (though similar) location like Lost Creek Falls is hidden and abused?  Are the people running the government agencies and the private timber companies unwilling to come up with a solution?  Or do they collectively lack the intelligence to do so?  I refuse to believe that this is what is best for everyone and that it is the best that we can do as government agencies, as business leaders, as a society.

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