HIDDEN

It has been a full month since I have been hiking. I have not been hiking at all since my big epic backpacking trip in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. I guess I was all hiked out after that trip, and I needed a big break to recover. I suppose I have been busy with other stuff as well and not had a chance to hike. Regardless, this past weekend I decided that the break was over and it was time to get back out there. I was a determined man. Well, since we were going up north for my mother-in-law’s birthday, I figured I would try to get up in the Burney area to see some fall colors, and try to find a couple new waterfalls.

I heard about this one particular waterfall just earlier this year. I had no idea it existed before this time. And it is so close to Burney Falls, where I have been far too many times. What the hey? It seems like it is a fairly popular one as well, among locals and cliff jumpers. Well folks, you cannot hide these little gems from the Waterfall Madman forever. You ought to know that by now.

Nonetheless, I did not know how to get to the waterfall. I knew where it was, but access seemed to be a big issue. There is a lot of private property in the area, and I surely did not want to be walking through someone’s back yard to the waterfall. How do the locals get here? You will not find directions to it anywhere (except now – on my website!). Anyway, I mapped out a couple possible routes and set out, but which route was the correct one? Would I choose wisely?

I did choose wisely, I think. Or semi-wisely, anyway. There was a clear path going down to the falls, obviously people had been this way before, but even so, the route was quite overgrown. I worried about poison oak. It seemed to be prime area for the nasty stuff, but at this time of year, you cannot see it. That does not mean it is not there, however! As I approached the creek, I could see no waterfall. I could hear no waterfall. Indeed, the drainage seemed very flat. Too flat. Huh? I was certain I was in the right spot. Where is this secret waterfall? I got closer to the creek. Now I could finally see where the drop was located, and it was very well hidden. If you did not know it was here, you would surely miss it. Despite the flat drainage, it was cliffy around the waterfall. How would I get down? I found a very steep path down to the bottom, and no doubt a lot of poison oak that I could not see, but I made it down without incident. To photograph it, I would need to cross the creek. There was a big huge log that seemed very unstable and rolling all over the place as the waves from the waterfall crashed up against it. I tested it, however, and it seemed solidly in place. I crossed on the log, carefully. On the other side, I took my photos and enjoyed the view. It was a bit smaller than I expected, 33 ft. high, but it is certainly very pretty. The pool seemed very shallow, however, and I don’t think I would want to be jumping off this waterfall. Actually, I would not do that anyway, but if you are the kind of person who would, I think you would be crazy to do it here. But what do I know. I’m just a crazy hiker.

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ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

If I am honest, I am not too keen on Burney Falls anymore. Someone once said it is the 8th wonder of the world. Now I wonder who that could have been. I’ve only heard that statement a half million times. Maybe I thought as such after the first time I saw it (I don’t think so). After the 10th time? Well … I really had no desire to ever return here again. However … I was already in the area seeing two other new waterfalls that I had not seen before (I will be sharing those pics soon). So since I was already in the area, and since it is the Fall season, I thought perhaps I would just stop by Burney Falls to see if there were any fall colors around the waterfall. I did not think I’d take any photos. The forecast said it would be partly cloudy. However, it was not cloudy, and after the first two waterfalls, it was now late in the morning. Surely, it would be too sunny to take any photos.

As I started down the trail, I could see the waterfall was still in shade. I was not expecting this, but I was on the wrong side of the creek and had to walk all the way around to get in position to photograph it. I started running down the trail, trying to beat the sun. It was coming up over the falls right now. A girl was coming up the trail. At this precise moment, I took my eyes off the trail and looked down towards the creek below me. And I totally bit the dust. I received a pretty ghastly scrape on my leg as well. I had just hiked down two very steep trails to two different waterfalls without any trouble, and now I bite it on this easy one. Oh my goodness. How embarrassing, Madman! If you are like me at all then I know what you are thinking: Jack Tripper bites the dust (for those of you who are old enough to remember Three’s Company). But this was much worse: I was looking down at the creek, not at her.  “I guess I ought to keep my eyes on the trail”,  I said to the girl. She laughed (hysterically). I continued running down the trail (*not* looking down at the creek anymore).

There was a little bit of color at the Falls but not as much as I hoped there would be and mostly all the color was well past peak. I climbed back up to the overlook and took this one photo which shows the best of the colors.   This is all you get, folks. It seemed like we did not really get much in the way of color this season, or at least not as much as usual, or at least in certain places that I saw, or something or other like that. It stayed far too hot for far too late. Indeed it is still much too warm for mid October. What the heck is going on this year? Another summer bites the dust.

 

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BENCHED

It is October now. Just when you thought fire season was over … all of a sudden California is facing disaster. Multiple fires raging in the state. Awful devastation in multiple counties. Caused by high wind? Certainly it is the wind and dry conditions that have stoked up the fire, but wind does not create fire, so what did? It was actually quite surprising when I woke up and learned so many fires were all of a sudden raging in the state. These must all be human caused fires (not necessarily intentionally, but definitely human caused). Don’t you think so? It is certainly not caused by climate change as some would have you believe (whose initials are HC). By this time last year we had over 10 inches of rain in the northern Sierra foothills. This year, essentially nada, and with the hot dry summer we had it does not help with the fire situation. Last year was an anomaly. We do not normally get very much rain in October. IT IS NORMAL TO NOT GET RAIN IN OCTOBER. Perhaps we usually do get a slight bit more than this year, but not much more. I think this summer is an anomaly, like last winter was an anomaly. However, we sure do need the winter to get started, especially now with all those fires. It looks like we have a weak La Nina this year again, precisely the same as what we had last year. So that should mean we will get another big winter, right? I wish. Unfortunately, there are many other factors and some of those other factors are different this year, so it certainly does not mean we will have a similar winter. I am just hoping and praying we will at least have an average winter, and we do not get sent back into a drought. Please God, no more drought (for a few years, at least).

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FREE FALLIN’

This is the waterfall at Hemlock Crossing. It may not quite be 20 feet high, but to my eye it is very close. I do not bring my waterfall measuring devices (rangefinder and clinometer) on backpacking trips because it is extra weight that I do not need to carry. 20 feet is my limit for including on my website, but I do make exceptions and this would be such an exception. It is the most well known waterfall on the North Fork San Joaquin river, and the one that everyone takes a photo of, and this is probably because it is the only one that people see since it is located right at the bridge over Hemlock Crossing, which is the end of the road I suspect for most people. I think most people do not go further than this and never see the myriad of other waterfalls on this river (or even know about them). So this is the one!

I was not ever a huge fan of Tom Petty but I did appreciate his music. Free Fallin’ was probably my favorite of his songs. It also happens to be a good way to describe waterfalls! Coincidence? Since I was camping here, I spent a lot of time beside this waterfall, watching it, sitting in the sun, and listening to music. I love how smoothly it falls (freely) off the cliff into the beautiful large pool. It certainly was very sad that Petty died so young. I tried to educate my son Jadon on his music, as I often do for various things. But he is a strange one and likes strange music. I cannot even tell you. He was not a fan of Tom Petty’s music. Oh well, I tried.

 

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DIKE CREEK

Dike Creek Falls, 40 ft. high. I did not think Dike Creek would be flowing well. I did not think I would have time to get to this waterfall. But I did have enough time, just arriving here before sunset, and I was very happily surprised: it is such an awesome 40 ft. straight plunge.

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