I took a break from hunting caves and rock formations and went after some waterfalls. This change felt good.
Originally when I started out doing this adventure hiking stuff, it was mostly in search of waterfalls. As I have hit pretty much all of the well-known ones in the area, as well as a large portion of waterfalls off the beaten path, I had to find other things to see. This is where the rocks and caves come in. However, the use of lidar has opened up some new opportunities for waterfall exploration.
This trip into the Little River area with Duane Cannon was heavily based on lidar research and me sort of going back to my roots for a good, old-fashioned off-trail adventure hike to head into some waterfalls few have ever seen.
There were multiple lidar blips along this creek. At least 2 were real waterfalls and a few smaller ones that could be interesting.
The first up was naturally the easiest to access. This little cascade is about 5' tall, but it's a gorgeous and unspoiled swimming hole. It's a steep descent from the forest to the creek and neither the forest floor or places for descent showed any signs at all of footpaths. No garbage, no graffiti, no pull-out or parking at the road, nothing. Just one of the best swimming holes I've found.
A short jaunt upstream from that was one of the two main waterfalls I was after.
You never know what to expect with these, which is one of the more exciting aspects of this type of explorative hiking. The first glimpse of this waterfall showed one of decent height and potentially attractive. Like the swimming hole, there were no footpaths into this next waterfall. The ground was such that people moving through the forest caused obvious footpath. This appears to be a very lightly traveled waterfall.
Once in full view, dad and I noticed the thick logs blocked a good portion of the waterfall. While I admit to a tinge of disappointment and the word "chainsaw" flashed through my head, we both came around to its uniqueness. In spite of the logs, it still maintains good aesthetic beauty.
There were more above this I had marked, but dad and I headed back to the car. He headed back to town and I headed back to the creek. This time, I was coming in from above.
I hit a popular trail, then ventured off for the next waterfall. While walking parallel to the trail, I found what looked and felt like an odd forest, as if it was not there decades ago and grew around an older trail or road. About 0.25 miles from the trailhead and 50 yards off the trail, I found a really old tire. Eventually I veered further away from the trail and it was as good as gone. I stood at the end of a small ridge, unseen waterfalls on both sides. No trail, no footpaths, no people signs. As I made my way down, the forest was easily disturbed. If someone else had been there anytime prior, it would have been obvious.
It was steep and slippery. As I made my way down as safely as possible, I saw a waterfall down below. After consulting the GPS, I was certain this was not the main waterfall, as it only showed up as a small decline in the creek on lidar. What I was really after was hidden another 100 yards up the creek.
Once down to creek-level, its small beauty showed to be really striking.
Definitely one of the prettier and more spectacular small waterfalls I've found.
Further up the creek, mysteries remained. It was flat and easy, so those 100 yards went quick.
There is a big jumble of rocks and logs and the creek has some interesting geologic features.
The waterfall itself is small and I really did not expect the twin fall look. I'd imagine under higher water, it would be really nice. As with many similar cases, getting down into here in higher water and wetter forest conditions would be a feat. Getting out would be significantly less fun.
To the left of the waterfall is a wall that has been gouged out by high water as it swirls around. It's an interesting feature.
From here, instead of climbing out, I kept moving downstream to the other potentially interesting spots I had marked using lidar. Along the way, I found pretty much the only wildlife I saw all day.
I believe these are cascades frogs. They are very common in these streams. They're funny in that they'll let you get right up on them, as if you can't see them.
At this part, my lack of conditioning was having an effect and I was wearing out. I was enjoying myself, however, and the longer path through the next couple marked areas was probably easier than climbing the steep path back out. So I trudged on spurred on as much by tired enthusiasm as my drive to achieve a pursuit.
After the frogs, I kept moving down. I hit the confluence between two creeks and pushed on.
Once I turned the corner, I saw this:
This is either your version of heaven or your version of hell. I stood atop a log which stretched across the creek, sighed and thought, "This is awesome."
A quick look up for me to spy any potential path through the green, but the forest smirked and replied, "No."
All interesting aspects of the remainder of the trek were of the small variety.
It is unusual how this rock had worn down to a small lip. Initially, I thought it was very thin, but after stretching to reach under the water, I found it about an inch or so.
Just down from that was this small, weathered step cascade, which was much more interesting than I was able to capture.
There were two small waterfall-like features that showed up on lidar and I had little idea what they looked like, even in a general sense. The first of those two was definitely a nice surprise. It is a two-channeled dump into separate-but-combined pools. One of the channels looks essentially like a rain gutter.
This unique and charismatic formation isn't the biggest, but ended up being worth the trouble. These small finds tend to be more satisfying and inspiring than many of the bigger lesser-traveled waterfalls I have been to.
In the water, I spotted a spotted rock and pulled it out to inspect, only to find the spot moved.
Some type of amphibian eggs, I believe.
One marked place left to hit before heading back out through an unseen and looming dread of a path.
This one was pretty small and reminded me of Emile Falls, with which it shares a nearly-identical shape.
From here, I thought about going a hundred yards further to the precipice of the first waterfall with the logs, but my golden rule is that nothing good happens at the precipice of a waterfall and they generally aren't interesting places to begin with. Instead, I started the crawl out of the creek, up through the forest, and back to the car, tired but very satisfied with the results.