Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey and I headed back up to Linton Creek to see what we'd missed the last time. We took a much shorter trail into the lake (and an even shorter one out) and avoided intentionally making a mistake by entering the lava field, so we had a lot more time to burn on this trip.
We stopped at Lower Linton Falls and the water was much higher this time, which is odd because it's July and we were last here in October of '11. Our main goal was to explore the area above Linton Falls. The terrain is extremely steep, but there seemed to be some very interesting draws above.
The blue lines are the tracks from our last trip. The red box shows Linton Falls (next 3 pics), which is a huge waterfall. The yellow box above the red contains 450' of whitewater that is falling near vertically. We were comfortable in believing that there was going to be a very large and powerful fall above Linton Falls.
The problem is that huge drop faces the right side of the creek. Once we got to Linton Falls, we realized we could not ascend on the right because it looked like it was filled with mostly sheer rock. On the left, it was almost as sheer, so that's the way we went.
(After thinking about it, we could probably cross and head away from the creek along the right, then possibly poke back in on that big drop...)
This is truly an amazing spot.
The pictures showed the massiveness of Linton Falls a bit better this trip compared to last time.
We poked around the corner and started picking our way up the really steep terrain.
This is Linton Falls from part-way up. You can see the log on the top and compare it to its location on the previous pictures (top right). There are two small perches to get this view. A lower one 10 feet directly below seemed to be blocked a bit by trees, though it would give a better view if not for that. From this spot, there is a deep bass created, but it doesn't come through the camera speaker well.
While tackling big tasks, it's always important to take time to appreciate the small things. The spider web was just as we began heading straight up. The leaf was taken while clinging to a muddy spot along the steepness.
Once past Linton Falls, things got pretty steep. Off to the left, we noticed a small overhang under an old stream bed and we headed over to inspect. It looked desperately like a waterfall, only there was no water. Above looked like a creek, only with no water. It doesn't look like it has flowed anytime soon, but at some point, it was definitely a real creek. I wonder at what point the creek quit flowing and what caused it to do so.
The above picture shows the "nicer" portion of the steep part. For most of it, the trees are spread far apart and there is little vegetation to grab onto. Mix with loose soil and rocks that slip easily and this is a potential nightmare. In their climbing book publication from 1916, the Mazama hiking club took an expedition to this point from the east. Back then, it was still called Lost Creek before the name was changed to Linton Creek. They stopped here because it was simply too steep. We headed up.
Well, one of us did. Jeremiah climbed and I took off towards that stream bed.
I did this because I saw a white streak through the fog off in the distance. I hoped it was a waterfall, but it turned out to be a snag. I kept going up due to curiosity of the old stream bed. Towards the top, I found a nice flower.
Just inside the forest in the stream bed and a little bit off to the right of that stag above was this broadleaf arnica. There wasn't a single other one around and it presented itself to a good opportunity for some good shots.
Red soldier beetles were busy working while I was on vacation.
I think the bugs give this group of pictures a realistic feel as well as allowing them to look different than the other billion forest aster pics on the planet. It never crossed my mind to flick them off, though that would have made a "prettier" picture.
My sublime moment was interrupted by Jeremiah on the radio saying he was standing at the top of the waterfall and that it was a "knee rattler". I started making my way over. According to the GPS, we were ~100 yards away from each other. At one point, I stopped because I felt the ground shaking. I looked at the GPS and I was still 50 yards away as the forest floor rumbled.
Yikes! It's not easy to see from that angle, but it's probably in the 175-200+ range. There are at least two or three waterfalls falls immediately below this. After those shorter drops, the creek bends and flows into what everyone knows as Linton Falls. There are no good angles to see it from this side of the creek. Lower Linton Falls is a bit anxiety-inducing to stand over, but this one is incredible. While standing there, more than my knees were rattling. This was easily the most powerful waterfall I've seen in person. (note: 8 years and countless large waterfalls and this is still true.) It seemed to take forever to climb past it on the way down.
If all are considered separate waterfalls, then this is an incredible and unique creek. There are a few creeks in Oregon with a succession of waterfalls, but most of these are streamers, being thin drops off a mountainside. This is a full creek that flows strong. If they are considered one waterfall (my belief), then outside of Willamette Falls (the second most powerful waterfall in the United States), Linton Falls is by far the biggest and most powerful waterfall in the state and nothing is really close at #3.
From here, it was relatively easy going. There was a deer trail part of the way through the brush and there were a number of waterfalls along the way (that I did not photograph...).
I didn't think about it until I got home, but this is similar to the second-to-last picture on this post, though they were taken in two different mountain ranges and a couple years apart.
Better picture of the rhododendron.
Very cool snag. High contrast black and white makes it glow like it does in person.
This is a wolf spider with a bright blue egg sac. Saw a number of these with this coloring.
Blooming bear grass. We saw one about 3 times this size later, but it would have taken forever to get to it. Unfortunately, we did not see any bears.
We soon came to a large clearing:
When we started, we were in a typical Pacific Northwest rain forest. By the end, we had reached Central Oregon, though it was only 2.5 miles from the car to this spot above. We hit the western edge of the plateau and everything was completely different from what it was down below. The plants, trees, even Linton Creek looked completely different. I never thought I'd walk to Central Oregon over that short of a distance.
This is an amazing place filled full of floating grass, marshland, a couple small lakes, and more mosquitoes than I'd care to remember.
This is a long-jawed orb weaver in the marsh. I've shown them before and they're quite cool. This one was fairly large and it was a different color than I'm used to. You can see in it going to its "stick defense" the 3rd and 4th photos.
At this point, we were pretty tired and moving through the marsh was difficult. At times, we sunk down close to knee-level. That really slows down progress, especially after having to extend the amount of energy necessary to climb above Linton Falls. We turned around and started the descent back to civilization.
We found a green tree fog.
Jeremiah spells out "A". If I could contort into a couple S-shapes, it would represent the two of us. We were both a bit tired by this point and we hadn't even made it off the plateau yet. And here's Jeremiah screwing around. It's always good to be reminded that this is supposed to be fun, even with a grueling hike left to go.
One thing that hit home on this hike was the need to be in better shape. By the time we descended back down to Linton Lake, my hips and knees were killing me, to the point where I was more than willing to walk 100' around a downed tree than lift my legs to climb over its 3' girth. It sounds crazy, but I weighed 7 pounds less by the end of the night than I did when I woke up that morning.
We did not hit all our goals (there is just too much cool stuff in this one area), but did see some great things that few ever see and we pushed ourselves pretty hard. Some day down the road a ways, I think a camping trip to Linton Creek is in order.