Return to Topinka Falls

I took a hike back into Topinka Falls and it reminded me why it's such a great place.

The last time I went in, this waterfall was as the "Green Onions" B-side to the Mile 44 Falls "Behave Yourself" A-side.  What I thought would be the hit wasn't.  Instead, what was intended to be the filler ended up being the one to remember.

 

An amazing song.

 

Old blues twist with lyrics by Scott H. Biram.

 

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A punk/rockabilly version by Th' Legendary Shack Shakers.

I cannot recommend either of those two acts enough.

On with the show!  This trip, the falls were the only planned destination, so I had more time to take in the area.

On the way, I spotted this action:

Here we see the rare wild sofa in its natural environment.  As you can see, the sofa has chromatophores which allow it to match the current state of its habitat with a light beige color, mimicking the tan flora of late summer.

 

And in a blink, it hopped the guardrail and galloped off to safety in the tall grass.  As with all wild creatures, there is also a life cycle for sofas as well.

The road to reach the falls is pretty rough at the end.  I ended up going too far and with the help of a log hidden in the grass, I pulled my front bumper off a smidge. And by "a smidge", I mean it was pointing out like the horn of a bull.  If both were like that, I probably would have left it.  Alas, I pushed it back in place and semi-maturely moved on.

There is a bunch of tree growth in the middle of the road and a large fallen tree, so it was time to stop anyway.  After parking, it is a pretty easy walk down a fairly clear road (though the road does not match the one marked on the topographic maps much, at least at the end...).  There is tall grass and flowers to walk through, so insects abound.  On good days, there are butterflies and moths everywhere.  At this time of year, there were prickly purple flowers, which were nice.  I walked past one small patch and noticed a lot of honey bees on it.  Since it was small, I just avoided it.  Then I came upon another patch and as I turned the corner, I saw this:

The road from one side to the other was covered in those purple flowers and those were covered in thousands of honeybees.  The nice thing about honeybees is they usually leave you alone until you annoy them.  Seeing as these were thigh-high and very thick, I was going to annoy a lot of bees.  I also have to consider the fact that I tend to annoy most living things.  And I also had a hunch that there would be more than just honey bees in there.  (I was proven correct in this on the way back, noticing some bald-faced hornets, which can be most unfriendly.)  What normally would be a quick, easy walk through the grass ended up with me pushing through a brushy forest.  Not enjoyable, by comparison. But...

Here is a Pacific fritillary.  They are pretty common and were by far the most plentiful butterfly or moth today.  One thing I've also noticed about them is they don't seem to get along with each other. By comparison, you'll often see monarch butterflies flying and resting together.  Pacific fritillaries are frequently seen chasing after one another and what looks like fighting anytime they get close.

 

These small yellow flowers were pretty much the only other flower besides the purple ones and there weren't many of them.

Once the old logging road ends, the path is almost totally reclaimed by the forest.  I have yet to find a comfortable way down to the creek and doubt there is one.

 

One nice thing, be it true luck, mathematical probability, or subconsciously seeking ways to validate less-than-fun portions of a hike, I always seem to find something interesting at the point of the hike where I am the most irate of my choice to not go into a more mundane hobby.  This ghost pipe was in a very cool state of being when I found it along the steep, brushy section.

Once down to the creek, however, things get smoother.

Immediately left/west of where I came in at.  The water is low so the creek is filled with large rocks and boulders to scramble on.  I ended up going downstream a ways at the end and it goes really fast. Possibly an easier way to get to the falls would be to take a road north of the creek and scramble up. It's a little further but it is flat and easy, especially under lower water.

 

A nice looking tree along the creek.

 

Here is a huge blockage.  I would imagine during higher water, this induces a great deal of stress on the creek. That being said, it was easy to get over, as everything was really solid.  The creek scramble portion of this trip was a lot of fun and one of the most enjoyable I've done.

This monster cluster of rocks and big trees probably goes on for 50-75 yards or so.  Towards the top of it, there's a really nice area that didn't translate well to pictures.  A small cascade formed where large trees created a false streambed before it drops about 6 feet or so.  Oddly, this streambed, covered in typical river rocks, sits on top of a hollow area underneath.  It must be a thick, hardened layer of sand as the roof of the overhang, but it goes back a ways.  Seemed strange as I examined it.  As I walked on top of this place, it was very solid.

 

This is looking over the edge of it.

 

Here's underneath.  It goes quite a ways back.

At the top of the blockage, are a couple interesting trees who are pinned into place for their version of eternity.

 

This tree has seen some hard winters and powerful water.  It also instantly reminded me of Kuato from Total Recall.

Immediately to the left of that tree was another:

This picture didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, at least in showing the tree well enough.  In person, it had a still movement that looked like the wood was flowing.

Climbing over this drop, you are looking immediately at the upper creekbed.

There was one little flower sitting right where a raging H2O inferno would be flowing in a few short months.

 

Some interesting (to me) rocks that I stumbled across.  Top one looks like it could be serpentine, second is a large chunk of what looks like quartz, third one looks like a big, red brain.

 

A common sight along the creek is columnar basalt, especially within .25 miles of the waterfall.  There are huge chunks of it sitting around.  Some are necessary to climb on and over.

 

Here is a tree that grew around a basalt block, then spit it back out.

 

Sometimes I see things that feel really unique and I think they are but question how big a fool I am to think I am seeing something rare.  Regardless, this felt a little odd and reminded me of old Roman roads.

 

Photos don't do the roll in the middle justice.  That tree also hides the bend as well.

What felt odd is that I've seen quite a bit of columnar basalt and almost always, it breaks off in small, singular blocks or huge car-sized chunks.  This is the only time I can ever remember seeing it look like it was shaved off like that.  Maybe it's an illusion but it looks weird.

 

This is right about where the waterfall arena comes into view.

 

Just to the right of the falls is this intimidating cliff face.

 

To the left of the falls is covered in angular basalt.

 

In between is a nice waterfall.

 

This trip, I was able to stand here for quite a while and look around.  This big chuck of rock is splitting off and at some point, will calve.  I don't know what the creek looks like just above the falls but my hunch is that in the future, this will cause the waterfall to go around both sides of this rock.  May take 1000 years, may take 1000 days, who knows.  Seems likely though.

 

Up above the main tier of the waterfall is this hole, which is where the water blasts into from the top tier when water is high.

This is the perfect spot for a 360 picture:


If you hit the grey button on the far left, it takes you full screen. To leave full screen, just hit Escape.

Aside from the .1 miles from the grassy road down into the creek, this place is amazing for a smaller waterfall. My goal now is to find an easier way into the creek.

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