After the fiasco upon my arrival which I mentioned in my last post, namely a big strikeout at the three waterfalls I initially planned to visit, I had precious little time before dark, but just enough time before dark. I had to get to “something” Friday evening or I would just die. I quickly drove back down the hill to the Rainbow Pool area. At the confluence of the South Fork and Middle Fork Tuolumne Rivers are not one, not two, but three incredible waterfalls. I visited this previously completely unknown spot for the first time last year and I was in awe. How could such a location be so unknown to everyone, yet only a short walk away from a very popular picnic spot? Well I remedied this error; after I made this area known last year, I think quite a few of my faithful followers went to check it out. However there was a big problem with the location last year: a tremendously huge rock slide wiped out a section of the road, rendering access to the third waterfall quite dangerous (though some of my followers did navigate past this dangerous section, but to me it was scariness at best – climbing on loose rocks past gigantic boulders and big dropoffs – yikes that is intimidating).
When I arrived at Rainbow Pool, I had 30 minutes to sunset, and it is quite a steep walk down to the falls. I noticed the road was still gated. I also noticed the sign was still there, indicating the danger from the rock slide. Hmmm, well I was hoping beyond hope that I would be able to get past it this time, and get a better look at that third waterfall. There must be a safe way past that rock slide. I walked quickly down the road and arrived at the confluence. The flow was much lower than the prior year when I was here, and this is one reason I had not intended on coming down this year. The South Fork was at about 70 cfs and the Middle Fork at 100 cfs. It did seem a bit higher than that, however, and the flow looked quite good. It was certainly worth going down there. I continued on down the river, around the corner to where the rock slide was, and … la da da, there was no rock slide. It was all cleaned out! Yay. I am bewildered, though, because I figured it would take years to clean this out. That rock slide was huge. Monstrous, I tell you.
I took photos of the waterfall and re-measured it from a better spot: 46 ft. high. It looks a lot smaller in the photo, but it is bigger than it looks, believe me. I continued on down to the end of the road where I found another smaller waterfall, 26 ft. high. Waterfall number four. Then I scooted back up to the car, huffing my way up the hill, and arriving just before dark. I drove into Sweetwater campground, getting the very last camping spot. It was dark when I arrived. It was a great end to the day after a rather lousy start.