Coast Range Exploration

While doing some file maintenance, I came across a folder of photos from a trip back in April of '17 that I had barely looked through and had mostly forgotten about. While I didn't really succeed in getting to any of the places I wanted, there was still some interesting things going on.

I took a took a trip into the Coast Range only to end up on Plan D and still found some good results thanks to my trusty salamander pond.

 

Here's a cow crossing the road on a sharp corner. Some say it's still wandering.

 

A small waterfall along Burnt Mountain Road.

 

Plan A was Brummit Valley Falls, a really obscure, small waterfall tucked down the side of a cliff. I came in from the top, thinking I could pick my way down. This was not the case, as I found a massive drop at the precipice. After taking a peek at the steep terrain leading to the bottom further down, I decided to give it a fuller shot on another day.

Plan B was Doerner Fir, arguably the largest Douglas Fir in the world and inarguably the world's tallest non-redwood tree. With a circumference of over 11.5' and a height of 327', it's a monster. It had been quite a few years since I had been in there, so I thought it would be good to return.

 

The hillside decided otherwise. The area is prone to landslides and one just around the corner had limited access to the trail for a year or two. This slide is pretty fresh and I sat hoping it wouldn't be another year or two to clear out.

Just before this is a nice little roadside waterfall.

 

I've been here a number of times over the years and it's always a pleasant experience. However, it's a 50-yard walk from the car that doesn't really satisfy my competitive spirit.

Nearby, there is a small stream with a waterfall hidden on it, and that was Plan C. It was swampy going. Then I cleared a difficult and tall logjam only to see this:

A continuous logjam a few hundred yards long without any real room to skirt along either side. This was a bit more than I felt like taking on for the day so I tried for Plan D.

 

I would have liked for the facing photo to be a bit clearer but you can really only stick the camera in the water, aim a little, and hope for the best.

 

As scenes go, you can't ask for more from a small sump near a road. It has fairly clear, sandy bottoms, intermittent degrees of vegetation, and the sun reflects the water well. Additionally, the ground slopes gently into the water along an entire side of the pond, which allows for easy access. It is easily the best pond I've found for this type of thing. Some negatives not shown that also populate the water: beer cans, shooting targets, and goldfish. Someone emptied their fish tank here and the goldfish population has increased immensely over the years.

 

This newt saw my bright orange camera, came all the way over to investigate, bumped the camera, then drifted off.

 

I feel like I need to dedicate myself to just spending a few hours here instead of using as a stop while going from one place to another. This may include a raft and cleaning the garbage out.


Crack Cave

I stumbled upon an interesting cave and took a look around.

As I climbed up, the misty view dissipated and was replaced by sun.

Looks can be deceiving.  That slit looks just a foot tall or so.  But as you move closer, it's more like 3+ feet.  This little overhang is on the way to bigger things.

The only really interesting thing here is that pillar.

Back behind, there is a black growth on the back rocks.

This is two decaying pieces of wood.  With a little photo editing magic, their swirls are brought to life.

Like some sort of natural Van Gogh, these wood chunks are their own post-impressionistic works of art.

A short bit later, another small overhang.

There's a slit that leads to a black area behind.

This is what I named Crack Cave.  It doesn't look like much until you get closer.

The rocks here in the center are ~6-8' tall.

The last photo is the right-hand section, which doesn't get much play in this post.  It's filled with collapsed rocks and doesn't have a lot going on.  The left-hand side, however, is much more fascinating.

A great scene as we look back out into the sun and forest.

Around the bend on the left is this area.  That light shining is actually from the other side and where that small overhang bleeds through.

This big boulder sitting in the center of the room tells a lot of the story of this cave.  With its jagged walls and splintered rocks that have fallen from the ceiling, flat surfaces are few and far between.  Even the smallest flat surfaces.  However, this rock shows a smooth, flat surface on one side with a rougher surface on the other.  Behind it is...

...a comparably smooth wall.  I am not knowledgeable to know what exactly is going here from a geologic perspective, but this isn't common in caves of the area.

Sorry for the blurriness, but there's a seam running through the back wall.

There are a few places along the back wall that seep.

There's an interesting chunk hanging down from the ceiling.

More of that black growth seen in the first overhang.

Here's a 360 degree photo taken inside the cave near the center.  It's not very big but is pretty cool.

Is that sand?

No, it's an incredible amount of bat guano.  It is so thick, my feet sunk in.

Some mushrooms growing out of it.

A little collection from one of the pack  rats.  They collect all kinds of things.  I have a theory that they sometimes bring in leaves to scent their poop piles.  Speaking of smell, this cave reeked like Trucker's Tea with the urine smell pretty overwhelming.

Here's something odd.  It's a root that is growing through the ground.  It is still attached to whatever plant or tree from somewhere else.


Devil's Den - The Rest

Here are the flowers and animals surrounding the Devil's Den area. There is a wide variety of plant and animal life that makes this diverse ecosystem special.

This big cricket is a shieldback katydid. I don't remember ever seeing one before and they're pretty cool.

Even though cave crickets are common and all over around in here, they're still pretty interesting.

I believe this is a very large egg sac for a type of orb weaver spider.

This is a giant Pacific salamander and it was an unexpected find. We were checking out some huge cave crickets and noticed this salamander hiding out in a crevice. Most giant Pacifics leave the water after adolescence, lose their outer gills, and head to places like this. The interesting thing is that there is no water for ~1.25 miles and that's down at the bottom of the hill. It is truly amazing that this soft, little thing climbed all the way up here to hang out in this cave. I came back a month or two later and it was still here in the same spot.

This is a coast range fence lizard. Another creature I don't remember seeing before, at least from this close. This one was really patient and let me get really close. It is pregnant, so that may be the reason why. I left before I stressed her out too much. These thing are really cool looking. (Edit - I have seen them. These are usually what you see around your neighborhood scampering along rocks. This one was just much larger.)

I believe this is another western fence lizard sunning itself before it scampered off.

I believe this mushroom is a waxy laccaria in an advanced state.

This is a death cap rising through the forest duff like the grim reaper waking from a long nap and stretching as it heads off to collect souls. Yes, this mushroom is poisonous and yes, it has an awesome name. No, it does not nap or collect souls.

At least while you're looking.

This is a false hellebore and easily one of the most beautiful plants I have ever seen. It is also incredibly poisonous.

I believe this is an elderberry bush.

This is an oceanspray bush. These were everywhere and give off an interesting look while in bloom.

This is a dandelion in a really nice stage.

Creepy tree root off the beaten path.

This is Oregon stonecrop and it's found along the way towards the sandstone crevice.

There is even some paintbrush along the top of the Devil's Den. It is near a memorial shrine that sits at a really nice spot.

I think this is deerweed, but I'm not 100% sure.

A nice chunk of daisies.

Oregon iris, in the second one you can see the yellow jacket.

A pale flax.

This is a western trillium with its propeller-like petals.

A couple different versions of a great white trillium.

Here we see the plastic Dutch Bros. cup growing in its native habitat, with an invasive bull thistle in the foreground.

The two posts about the Devil's Den:

Devil's Den - The Inside

Devil's Den - The Outside


Devil's Den - The Outside

The area surrounding the Devil's Den is spectacular in its own right.

Near the Devil's Den, there are some caves.

Yeah, that looks legit. I climbed down into this one regardless.

This vertical cave is another where the sandstone rock split, then drifted apart. At some point, it opens up to a cliff face nearby, since it (at times) blasts out wind at 15-20 mph. It's a good 20-30 feet straight down. There is a walkable path for a ways as the cave disappeared beyond where I could see. I debated about descending down into the cave, as I was equipped with a climbing rope. In the end, I didn't think much interesting would be down there, but I definitely have not ruled out a return.

The last time I was there, I noticed an obvious cave near the above that I somehow, preposterously missed. It was similar to this one.

This one is along a large wall with the entrance covered by graffiti. There was a little inside. It didn't technically need a rope, but there wasn't any solid way of knowing that before sliding down into it. I'd guess that the people who used a Sharpie to write on the walls didn't use a rope, but they technically don't use their brains, either. There's not a lot to explore in this one but the walls had an interesting texture that didn't show up well on the camera.

One of the more unique caves I have found. It is remarkably boxy.

One of the more fascinating features through here is this rock. It is rounded on top.

What makes it truly special is that directly behind it is this:

That entire rock broke off the wall, then flopped over.

Underneath that fallen rock, you can see what stopped its progress.

A lot of the holes in sandstone are from either rocks or harder pieces of sandstone falling out as the softer rock surrounding it erodes.

That darker oblong shape is a harder piece of sandstone that will eventually fall out.

This looks like a pretty creepy skull or an entombed Ghost Rider.

An obvious Pac-Man ghost.

Looking up while in a crevice. There are other caves, rocks, and spaces to explore that I haven't gotten to yet.

Here are the other two Devil's Den posts:

Devil's Den - The Inside

Devil's Den - The Rest


Devil's Den - The Inside

In the Southern Oregon Coast Range lies the Devil's Den. We didn't find the devil, but we found an adventure. I have been doing this type of adventure hiking since around 2005 and have traveled all over the place looking for waterfalls, rock formations, and anything else that is interesting in the wilderness. Turns out, there was an amazing place fairly close to town all along. This trip report encompasses 4 different trips to the location. The first three, I went with my dad, Duane Cannon, and my 8-year old daughter, Emily. The last time was with Dan Amos (see video at the end). I was the only one able to make it all the way through.

Everyone else lived, they just went back out and around to the other end. Just in case you were wondering.

We headed up with vague directions and immediately realized we had no idea where this was. Thankfully, we had internet access, so I pulled up the map on my phone. Topographic maps were no help:

Yeah, good luck with that.

I then pulled up the lidar map and had better luck.

That looks like it could be something worth checking out. It's called the Devil's Den. I don't get where they get the "den" part from. If I were naming it, I'd probably go with Devil's Crack, but that's probably why they don't let me name things. I mean, in someone's den, you're reading a book in a soft chair, thoughtfully gazing out the window to process the material you have just been perusing. (Look at the lidar and tell me if that's a "den" or a "crack". I rest my case.)

Also, let's stop with the Devil's _____ for naming places in nature.

Like James Woods, it's old, it's trite, it's not clever. Be creative.

Moving on...

From north to south, the center of the crevice lines out to about 500' long. Not all that big, but like brains, surface area matters more than size and what doesn't show up on the lidar map is an incredible amount of surface area this place contains.

Looking into one part of the crevice and the amount of things to look at, think about, and focus on is incredible.

Upon entering the Devil's Den, there is a sketchy drop down into a cave if you're not careful.

Down inside the cave. It's not all that interesting once you're inside, but it's about the journey, not the destination. All of the caves I found are vertical caves caused by the sandstone rocks splitting and drifting apart.

Some interesting climbing bolts drilled into the cave walls. They don't seem to be of much use due to where they are drilled.

Given how it forms, sandstone tells a story. As cool as this is, it's also what I was standing on up top. Even when the rocks look secure here, they are not.

The inside of the crevice varies from fairly easy to sort of challenging. There are huge boulders to climb over, under, or around. It's a fun challenge. Because of the rock type, there are nooks and crannies everywhere to explore. One of the more fascinating ones is a narrow alley between two walls.

After climbing over a large boulder then squeezing through a narrow gap, daylight appears.

That is a monstrous rock hanging between the walls. This photo almost looks like it could be upside down, but it is not.

There is a way to get from inside the Devil's Den to outside. This old, wax boat anchor rope tied to a dead, wiggly root is not the way I'm going to be going. Not to mention it's not hard at all to get to that spot by going around the outside (coming on the next post...). This is about a 10' drop.

This one is particularly daunting. I've lived in houses smaller than the rock hanging in the center, and it's being wedged up by rocks the size of a pillow.

Looking straight up at the same rocks but with the wall in view. The crack puts things into perspective. I've done a lot of stupid, dangerous stuff over the years. In noticeable, tangible threats, standing in this spot is probably way up on that list. Yes, that house-sized rock could hang for another 1,000 years. It could also hang for another 1,000 seconds. Neither would be a surprise.

And yes, on one of the trips, we got hit by a gravel-sized rock through here 10 seconds after joking that these rocks would be here for a long time.

Opposite wall, another huge vertical crack running down.

Inside here, there is a wide gap with what looks like a path on the other side.

That gap at the bottom is ~40' deep. It is almost jumpable but that would be pretty risky. That path sure looks like it leads somewhere.

It doesn't. This is from the other side and that small flat spot about halfway in the photo is where that path comes out at. Directly over a huge crack and another 50' drop down into a hole (below what's in the photo).

Unfortunately, in the Oregon Coast Range, there is always garbage and graffiti. Here we see a couple elk carcasses, some beer cans/bottles, an old rusty freezer, and a plastic Safeway shopping cart. Directly above this is easy access from a road. The guess is that this stuff was dumped over the side and someone chucked all of it into this hole because that was easier than dragging it out. This is why we can't have nice things. This type of dirtbaggery is why timber lands are usually closed to people like me, even though I only take photographs and barely leave footprints.

The towering walls through the halfway area provide a sense of awe and power. The rest of this is approximately the northern half of the crevice.

The northern half is arguably the more attractive portion. It's greener and more lush, while the sandstone provides some points that take you back in time.

At many points throughout the Devil's Den, it is unclear which way is the right way. Some of the potential routes are hidden, some that are obvious are dangerous. It was around this point that I found myself in a big box of rock with an obvious-looking route to the next section. I did a quick check of the lidar images and realized it was not the way to go. Instead, I pushed into the wall and found the way. I find myself using lidar images as much as topographic maps for navigation. I can see me using it more than topos in the future.

This looks pretty sketchy, but it wasn't bad, as the rock was sticky in spite of being really steep.

The sketchiness was only going to increase.

The small hole through.

A photo of the walk down.

In the video, there was a glimpse of a massive, dangling rock.

This rock is so big I almost should have used the panorama mode to get it all in one frame. It is resting on a rock that is remarkably smaller and doing so by mere inches. That rock is fracturing away from the wall.

The flat rock is the problem. There's really nothing to grab onto, not only with your hands but even for your feet. It slopes down slightly. And it's covered with a thin layer of sand. Not enough to catch your feet, just enough to act like tiny marbles. To make it more exciting, there is a 20' drop to either side of the rock. It is a low-key nightmare. At the end of the rock, there is one small section of flattish ground, and it is about where that crack is in the middle of the video preview image. The flat spot isn't overly large. The drop down is ~7 feet, so I could jump down and maybe catch myself, but the slightest misstep, loss of balance, or imperfection means I'd go flailing into that cave on the left.

So how do you get down?

That little obelisk is the way. It is about 4-5 inches wide, 3 feet tall, and wobbles slightly. Directly on this side of it is one of those 20' drops. On the lit side is a small window of a landing spot that slopes quickly into another deep drop off to the left. Keeping in mind the lack of anything at all to grip and the sand as it slopes away and this was a really tricky little spot to put much faith in. I took extra time to evaluate almost every step. The plan ended up with me scooching down, sitting on the ledge next to the obelisk, then bridging with my feet walking down the wall like Spider-man until I could reach the obelisk. This was the safest and most reliable thing I could come up with.

The obelisk to drop down onto (or climb up on, if you came the other way).

The height of that flat rock is apparent here.

This view reminds me of something from an Indiana Jones movie. It's large room that gives off a tremendous air of mystery.

The drop down the right side, facing that cracked wall. I have been tempted to go down in using a rope but I don't know if it's really worth it. Maybe next time.

The view straight up.

Heading down the last little stretch is something else.

This is such a remarkable place and it's really difficult to capture without actually making concerted effort. There is so much going on and take in. It's one of the more complicated locations I've been to. I felt like I was taking photos the entire time and still didn't get what I wanted on camera. And that's just the inside (of which I've only shown a fraction). I'll post another detailing the interesting stuff outside the Devil's Den next. That will be followed by another one showing the plants, insects, and wildlife.

Here are the other two Devil's Den posts:

Devil's Den - The Outside

Devil's Den - The Rest

And before we end this one, here's an episode of Agent of the Wild involving me and Dan Amos, who puts on the show:


Thunderbird Falls

Snooping around on lidar, I found a rocky canyon in the Umpqua Nation Forest with a waterfall in it. I went in with low expectations and came out with an incredible experience with one of the most significant locations in the North Umpqua area. I have seen a lot of waterfalls in Douglas County and areas beyond. It can sometimes be difficult in finding new waterfalls to explore, but also ones that are worth the effort. This creates a scenario where one can feel like they have "seen all of the significant ones" in the area. Turns out, this feeling would be dramatically incorrect.

Considering most of my hikes do not involve trails, I rarely spend time on them. This trip requires multiple trail miles to get to the creek, meaning I spent significantly more time hiking along a trail than I possibly have done in this forest over the past 20+ years. I think the Eileen Lake backpacking trip is the only one where I spent more miles on a trail.

Along the trail, the aptly named firebush was everywhere. This one is set against a burnt stump, giving it a unique natural background.

One interesting thing about firebush is that the flowers pop out of these odd spines.

The first trip, I found it fairly easy going, though the second trip I understood its challenges a bit more. There are several places where it gets challenging to make your way past huge logs, log jams, and tricky spots in the creek. Overall, it is beautiful along the creek and wildlife was abundant. There were countless frogs, 3 garter snakes (including me scaring one as I came around a corner, to the point it raised its head and jumped before dashing across the water), and a few deer. No fish, no salamanders or newts.

There were a few dozen pacific tree frogs and/or California red-legged frogs along the creek.

We saw a few crawdads on the second trip. They were wary of predation from a distance.

A rock within a rock.

This rock has its own rock collection.

And I found a gimmicky feature on my phone that is ripe for abuse:

Super slo-mo is actually pretty cool. Only problem is that it takes movement to get the video to actually start recording instead of pressing a button and forcing it. I tried to get some frogs jumping but it was ineffective. And for the record, the first one turned portrait all on its own. Don't @me.

Interesting limb growth on that tree in the center.

I knew off of Google Earth images of the site that I would most likely be seeing a lot of columnar basalt. Initially as I headed up the creek, it was pretty bare of this type of rock. These two were exclusions.

I knew that a couple turns away from the falls and the route should narrow substantially as I come into the canyon. It did this in very quick fashion. There is no subtly here, no transition. It's forest one minute, canyon the next.

The first of the canyon with a nice cascade-fed pool below it. The water here looks at least 10' deep, probably closer to 15, maybe further. It also makes a huge sound for such a thin and short drop.

From here, business starts to pick up.

This basalt formation is fascinating in how it leans back against the rest of the hill.

A 90 degree turn away is this monstrous beauty. If any rock wall can simultaneously exhibit power and grace, this one does. The thin separation between vertical and horizontal basalt is apparent.

Another 90 degree turn and this is the rock you see:

It is breathtaking. And it reminds me of a wizard's hat. The eye naturally looks behind and above to see more amazing rock formations beyond.

It is around here where two waterfalls are visible. The lower is a slide-like run into a fairly deep pool. The upper crashes through a narrow crevice into something still out of sight.

When I first saw the pool and how deep it was, I questioned whether I was going to cross it. As I peeked closer at the upper waterfall, I knew I kinda had to.

As I stand in the middle of that pool to take these two photos (on different days, hence the lighting), the water here is about waist deep and dark. There is nothing in it, but I really dislike going through water where I cannot see the bottom.

Here's a 360 photo taken while standing in the pool.

From here, it is obviously desirable to go all the way inside. The mossy rocks next to the lower fall are really problematic:

The second trip was with my dad, Duane Cannon, who we see here looking at getting on top without breaking things. The same decision path I'd have to make in just a minute. They're wet and lack much in the way of either foot or hand holds. Coming down, I nearly slipped off and bounced into the pool. This part is not for the faint at heart, nor the unskilled. Beyond that, I would add lucky as being a good attribute to have here.

Up on top of the lower waterfall, things become clear.

The lower photo was taken on the first trip, when the sun was out more.

Another incredible example of columnar basalt geology. Here the basalt is vertical, then it morphs into horizontal with very little transition. I believe that this is because the rock on top folded over before it completely solidified.

Here's a 360 from inside the upper area.

The upper waterfall has a couple sections, making it difficult to see at all. The water here was really deep, footing was not reliable, and the water itself was really deceptive. Places that were knee high looked identical to places that were waist high. I believe that the pool itself has sections that blindly drop off above 10' deep.

It is tantalizing to think what it looks like above this tier. It is daunting to think of how to get there.

I messed around a bit more, then turned to see this scene:

This photo felt very good to take.

Pretty nice feature.

There is another waterfall that is above the upper twisting one pictured, as well as some interesting geology. The question now goes to how accessible those areas are. At first glance, the answer would be "not very". However, closer inspection shows the route here (to the immediate right of the large pointy rock) not out of the question.

There also appears to be a path next to the leaning rock. Both are sketchy, but both appear to be within my ability level.

The heading back begrudgingly begins. Without question, this is one of the most remarkable locations in the Umpqua National Forest. I know I wasn't the first person back there, but there was no boot path and no signs of human travel. With the high number of wildlife hanging out in the open, I take that as a sign that there is little foot traffic, even for that which does not leave footprints. As destinations go, I struggle to rank this one. I think Duncan Falls (here and here) is #1, but only because of the overall trek. #2 typically is the Devil's Staircase (here and here). I would place this over the Devil's Staircase. It has a feeling that inspires awe and is something that moves me. Most locations, I check out for a few minutes and then scoot along. I think there's a part of me that will never leave this place.


Upper Fall Creek Falls

I took a shot at a little-traveled waterfall above Fall Creek Falls, a popular location. It was only 0.3 miles up the creek. Should be a piece of cake, right?Read more


Point Reyes/Sugarloaf Ridge

We took a trip down to Northern California and saw some great things at Point Reyes and Sugarloaf Ridge.Read more


Ragged Ridge Wildflowers

I was snooping around looking for caves along Ragged Ridge and found a ton of flowers. In total, I found at least 20 different types of wildflowers on this trip. It took quite a bit of effort to identify them. There are 23 different flowers shown here and I saw at least two more that I didn't get a photo of. I did my best to ID them, but it's not always an easy thing to do.

Rhododendron (#1)

Some wet larkspur. (#2)

Early on, I got rained on. Then it started to snow. This is around 4500 feet, but still weird to see snow in June.

Larkspur (purple), columbine (red) (#3), cinquefoil (white) (#4), and I'm not sure what the yellow ones are (trefoil?) (#5), as this is the only photo I seem to have taken of them.

I started to climb up a funky little knob I had picked out from looking on lidar. These arnica (#6) were everywhere.

And by "everywhere", I mean everywhere. Huge swaths of them really brightened up an area that looks like it burnt as late as last year.

This funky little knob is just that. It's a small hill with a really flat top. Weird. Not sure what I thought I'd find up here, but this is what it was.

It's crazy some of the way fire burns. I poked around for a bit, then headed back. But before I get to the car...more flowers...

Red currant (#7)

Piper's anemone (#8)

Beargrass (#9)

Not a flower, it's a moth.

Common whipplea (#10)

Yellowleaf iris (#11)

Umm...not sure what this is. Probably dried sap. It crumbled when handled roughly. Sort of like a 6-month old granola bar one would find under a child's car seat. I see that often.

Here's a large chunk of quartzy rock.

The fog started rolling in at this point. Except I don't think it was fog, but more like clouds.

Atmospheric arnica

Cliff penstemon (#12)

This rock was really interesting. I saw it on the way up to the top and didn't take a picture, figuring I'd get it on the way back. I ended up going a different direction, then talked myself into climbing back up to get a photo. I'm glad I did because the fog adds some nice stuff to the other pictures. It reminds me of Korg from Thor Ragnorok.

The rock didn't talk, but if it did and it sounded like that, I'd be okay with it. Miek creeps me out though. That would have been a deal breaker.

More hanging moisture. At this spot near that rock, it gave a good view between my little flat hill and Dog Mountain, as well as the deep Steamboat drainage to the north.

It's not very audible, but the birds were quite loud. And you can see some large snowflakes dropping through the frames.

Before I left this specific area, I drove down a road and found another flower:

Yellow false indigo (#13)

I believe this is a dandelion seed, more or less. Regardless, it was really cool looking.

Back in the car to hunt down a cave or three. I stopped at a place I had been prior but had not explored much.

This looks interesting...

Or not...it's really shallow and stops right there.

This is stonecrop (#14), which is a really odd plant.

Lidar showed that there were four main sections of large, freestanding rocks through this area. In reality, it seemed the whole place was filled with freestanding rocks.

Bellflower (#15)

Some interesting rocks, but no caves. The fact that it's flat and open makes it more enjoyable to explore. I have no problem with difficult explorations but doing them all the time is a bit much.

Feel free to make up your own captions for these two mushrooms.

Bushberry (#16)

A light fire breezed through here over the last couple years. Everything is growing fine, though. This gorgeous plant is a false hellebore.

(Oddly, a false hellebore and a hellebore look nothing alike. Just thought I'd point that out. Carry on.)

There were more rocks (there always are), but the next set was down steeper down the mountain, so I let the mystery remain for another time and headed further along the ridge.

This is Ragged Butte and it's quite the rock.

Wallflower (#17)

Cornflower (#18)

Here's a couple photos of a paintbrush (#19) I was trying to capture. I got the effect but missed the framing. Near both the wallflower and the cornflower along a really steep area with no rocks or trees below and loose dirt to stand on, I felt lucky to get anything before the footing made me rightfully skittish.

Paperwhites (#20)

I'm not exactly sure what this one is, but it looks like something from the carrot family. (#21)

Common whipplea (#22)

Lupine (#23)

Watch for ticks this year.

Or watch The Tick every year:


Steamboat Area Waterfalls

I waded into the forests up Steamboat Creek and found a pretty cool waterfall, using lidar both at home and in the field. I located this waterfall off WaterfallsNorthwest.com. I check it every so often to see if Bryan has found any new waterfalls and this one popped up on his map.

I checked it out on Lidar and it looked like it was worth a shot. For this post, I'm going to focus on comparing the lidar image of the map with what they look like in real life. This should be a fun comparison.

That blue circle is the main waterfall and the destination for this trip. The black arrow is about where I started. I headed basically straight east down through that small creek until I hit the bigger creek. I then headed north to the look for the blue circle.

Along that little creek, there were two red spots, which signify steep spots. This means waterfalls.

This was a nice find and better than I was expecting.

While I expected this waterfall, I was thinking it was going to be smaller than the first, which I was able to easily climb down past. Instead, I had a gaping hole and had to scoot around it and keep going down.

Not much going on looks-wise, for the trouble.

When I hit the main creek, I found the remnants of a small bird egg.

The creek wasn't bad to move around on and it was fun but not beautiful. Until I spotted this:

One of the more beautiful low-key spots I've found on these little creeks. It's just incredible. Looking back, I should have spent more time here.

Because I'm a baby and don't like getting water in my boots, nor do I like wading in bare feet (or bringing water shoes), I have to navigate these with some thought. A steep, moss-covered wall on the left. A doable line off to the right blocked by the creek (deeper than it looks here). I was fairly certain that line to the right would lead to me slipping off those wet rocks into the pool.

So...convenient log-crossing it is...

For the record, this one was bobbing pretty good by this point. I started to focus more heavily on where the end of this log was laying and how secure it actually would be by the time I got there. As I got to that dangling tree limb, I had to push it out of the way while timing the bobs. I because pretty worried about the log pushing off the rock and dumping me in the pool. It was 4-5 feet deep and early January, so I did not fashion a swim.

Off the log, closer inspection, yeah, it would easily just slip off into the drink. This hung in my mind later on when I decided whether I would use this route to get back to the car.

This is one of those nice little features that make waterfall hunting worthwhile.

What did it look like on lidar?

Not much. A little ripple of red shows a slight drop, though if you zoom in, the pool just before it shows up clearly. These are impossible to predict exactly what they will look like and that allows for nice surprises, even when you sort of know what's coming. And those surprises make the more difficult aspects of these treks worthwhile.

There was an ominous rock wall that ran most of the way along the creek, nearly out of vision. I intermittently would pause and scan for caves, but didn't see any.

The next place I found trouble was a pinch in the creek on a bend that left me without any good options. The ground climbed way up and as a rule, I don't like leaving the creek because sometimes you never make it back down. There was a logjam (always risky) that was tough to climb onto and that I could see did not even reach the other side. My third choice was to take my boots off and wade.

I didn't like the look of the logjam and hate wading, so I climbed for a minute.

The rock I'd have to climb over. I need to be to the right of it, but that was just as sheer as it looks. A voice called in my head and said, "You'll never get back down." I checked my phone, looked at the lidar image I had saved, and saw a monstrous rock wall over there that I would not be able to do anything with. I climbed back down again to the creek, thought about taking my boots off, then hesitated, and started climbing on the logjam, hoping for the best. If that didn't work out, I could always scooch into the creek.

The logjam was harder to mount than it was to get across.

It may not look like much, but it is when it's your feet walking along that dangling log (about 6' off the water), having to push off and jump the last bit.

Firmly on the other bank, I looked up in the trees to hear the rock cliffs whispering to me, though I did not go closer to hear what they were saying.

The going from here was smoother and I soon rounded into the hole where the main waterfall was. I took a minute to look back and my 3-headed monster of bad options and what climbing over that rock meant:

That pink circle shows the pinch and I was trying to get from the west side of the creek to the east side. Climbing over that rock would have pushed me well away from the creek and essentially ended the trip. Glad I chose the logjam. One interesting thing is how flat it is on top of that rock. Just left-center of that pink circle, there is a section of green, which translates to flat on this type of map. I would guess that at some time, the pointy bit broke away, and either crumbled or tumbled down.

In this spot was the waterfall and it's one of the larger ones in the Umpqua National Forest that I had yet to see.

Overall, not a bad waterfall at all. Under the right circumstances, it might be really pretty. Definitely a cool place to be.

Lidar comparison makes it out to be basically pretty accurately.

I ate my sandwich and tried talking myself out of winging it and climbing around the falls, crossing the creek, and heading up that way. I was unsuccessful and started the climb. The first chunk was somewhat unpleasant. After that, it got a lot easier. My primary goal was to find a way to cross the creek that would also allow me to climb back out to the road. Because I had the lidar images saved on my phone, I was able to pick out a few places to target. On the way...

A small little waterfall sitting on a feeder creek almost directly above the main waterfall.

Looking back towards the main waterfall.

Turning my head, looking directly up the creek. That log looked promising to cross but did not have much in the way of a path out above it. The next one was around the corner.

This was unpleasant. It was wet, slick, and had some unfortunately placed pokey spots. I am not too proud to say that I just sat down and scooched the whole way across.

Yep this was one of those hikes. The push up from the waterfall was tough and left me pretty tired and grubby. The good news is there was a sizable game trail right here. It was also pretty steep.

A large footprint? Bigfoot? Aliens? Nargles? Nope. It's a bear double-step where their back foot steps into the print of their front foot. Don't @me, Bigfooters!

On the drive back out, I caught something chubby and grey flash onto the back of a tree. I got very excited at first because I thought it could be a flying squirrel, which is way up on my wildlife spotting list.

Nope, just a barred owl. I admit to being a little disappointed.

Until I looked closer...

It's the lighter variety of their coloration and it's absolutely gorgeous. It looked down at me, then pretended to look elsewhere.

Yeah, I see you, my dude. No, its look of superiority does not show up on lidar.

I had a bit of extra time so I decided to push it and check out a different area of interest.

Speaking of pushing it:

Yes, this is both visible from the road and about 20' from the stream identifiable in the background.

I will booby trap this.

Okay, back to the task at hand.

Like all things born into existence in the year of 1976, this bridge has aged like fine wine. (Editor's note: I'm looking at this post again a year later, and after playing 3 hours of volleyball the night before, I'm feeling every bit of that birth year...)

I hopped down off this bridge and plowed up the creek to scout out a new area.

Yeah, that's as sketchy as it looks. One of those log chunks was bobbing in the water, the other was fairly solid, the rocks between them were wet and slick and a worse bet than the wood. But it was the only way to get across and back. That larger log in the background was causing me concern because it was floating and tootling around quite a bit and I didn't want it ramming me or the floating stuff I stupidly chose to walk on.

Looking up this creek in a heavily burned area, there are 10 waterfalls over the next 1.15 miles. This area does not get much foot traffic. One of the adventures for this summer, I suspect.