I took a trip up a nice little creek.  It was the first time I’d back up there in many years and I had forgotten how special of an area it is.

I had been up Castle Creek two other times, both quite a few years ago.  The first of those times was the first day the Highway 138 was reopened after a massive fire.  Every single side-road and interesting place to go was blocked off.  The goal was to get to the highest point in the area, the Illahee Mountain fire lookout, to check out the still-raging fire (from a distance). The only place that was open was this little pull-off spot at the bottom of Castle Creek.  If it wasn’t for the fire, I probably would have never ended up there.

My goal this time was a little mosquito pond a mile above the interesting part of Castle Creek.  I figured the pond might lend itself to some good pictures and is seldom seen.

Almost the instant you leave the road and drop into the creek, Castle Creek consistently lambastes you with beautiful scene after beautiful scene.  There are two ways to hike up it: on a goat trail or directly up the creek.  My preference is always up the creek.  The creek is filled with massive boulders which create tiny caves, stagnant pools, and almost an endless opportunity for photographs.


I stand there looking around, and within just a couple minutes, I’m lost in another world.  Then a Harley Man roars past on the highway just a couple hundred yards away.  It’s amazing that this spot is right on the road.


So…so…close…when it’s dark, you have to hold the camera perfectly still for longer.  When you’re bent around a creek getting wet from spray, holding still takes precedence over framing.  Luck, for good or bad, becomes superior over anything else.  I took 5 of these and this one is the least imperfect.


This is inside one of the cooler caves in the area.  It’s a little blurry since it took a while for the photo to snap.


This was taken 20 minutes after the prior and it’s the same spot, just looking down from above.


This is part of an absolutely stunning spot that was being blasted by direct sunlight, so I didn’t bother with a wider picture.

Just next to the above is this:

Natural doorway.


One of my goals is to learn to effectively capture water as it rolls over the edge.


This picture turned out fine, but it didn’t capture that pool as well as being there.  I’d guess it to be at least 10’ deep.  If it was 90 degrees out and I had the water bag for my camera…


Not just crawling your way along the creek, but there’s rock climbing and cave climbing involved, too.  All of these are plagued by the camera taking forever to gather what it thinks is the right amount of light.  Most of these are barely in focus and just getting these few took forever.  I need to find a more accessible place for the tripod than deep in the pack.  Or just quit being too lazy to pull it out of my backpack.


This is a narrow spot in the creek that isn’t very foot-accessible because of how slick the rock is.


This is the end of the interesting part of the creek (from what I know).  From here, you follow game trails on up the hill.


This is about where I stopped.  The larger live trees give way to a grassy knoll filled with a dead tree forest.  It has a very cool feel to it.  I messed around too much down on the creek and ran out of time, more or less.  There wasn’t enough time to get to where I wanted to go, so I turned around.