THE PERFECT STORM

It was the first major snowstorm of the season this weekend. Of course, like a madman, I wanted to get out into it. But where to go? I wanted to find a snowy waterfall that was still flowing decently. That meant it would have to be above 7000 feet and somewhat easily accessible and somewhat flowing as well. I decided to try Susie Lake Falls in the Desolation Wilderness. I knew it would not be flowing great but I thought it should still be decent at least.

I have not been hiking or exercising at all for a couple weeks because I put my back out just bending down to pick something up. OK this is what it is like to feel old. I have not had any issues with it in over two years, and now it goes out? I had been doing exercises faithfully from my physio-therapist sister, but I stopped because it had been so much better. Well I won’t be stopping those exercises any longer in the future. The back is better but still bothering me a bit, yet I still wanted to get out hiking this weekend. The worst part was driving back home from Lake Tahoe afterwards.

It was extremely windy when I got to the trailhead, a full on storm blowout. This was going to be a fun day, I thought. At this elevation, there was no snow on the ground. It was snowing a bit but it was not sticking until I got higher up in elevation. When I got up to Susie Lake there was a good 3 inches of snow on the ground, but I was actually hoping for a lot more. It seems that most of the precipitation fell further north (the northern foothills got about 4 inches); the Tahoe area did not receive too much at all.

At the lake, the wind was just completely crazy. Snow was blowing in my face from across the lake. I could see nothing. It was a struggle to walk to the end of the lake. Now we really were having fun. From the outlet, it’s a steep descent down to the waterfall. In the summer I imagine it is a cakewalk, but now? With snow on the ground? With slick terrain? With ridiculous steep dropoffs? Good luck with that, madman. Well, I found a way around the dropoffs. Overall, it was not too bad or dangerous.

I made it down to the waterfall and it was actually pretty nice with the snow, though it would’ve been a lot nicer if there was more flow in the falls and more snow (so I guess it was not such a perfect storm – but then again, could I have gotten here at all if there was more snow?).

But it was fun, and despite the cold and blowing snow I was warm and quite dry enough in my rain gear. It was a good start to the season in the Desolation Wilderness. I just pray we have another good one this year.

 

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STRANGER THINGS

This is Ritter Lakes Falls, total height is about 350 ft. high. The bottom section shown here is about 200 ft., the top is out of view. I could not find a viewpoint where I could see the whole thing in one shot, though it may exist somewhere. I got down to the bottom of it here a bit past sunrise and there was still some nice color in the sky. Pretty sweet. I was surprised that this creek still had so much flow in it. On the way up, I had to wade across it at a sketchy spot above a small waterfall. It was a bit tricky. On the way back down, though, I found a much easier place where I could just jump across.

Our family is excited about watching the new season of Stranger Things. We are looking forward to the start of the showdown this evening, after our big church celebration today. It is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation of Martin Luther. We are Lutheran so that is a big deal for us.

Speaking of Stranger Things, my back is out again. I have had no issues with it for two years. It has felt really strong recently, on backpacking and hiking trips, then I bend down to pick something up and it goes out. Oh and we have to move heavy stuff this weekend because we are getting our floors re-done next week. Just perfect.

More Stranger Things … not so strange really, but we still have not had much rain yet. By this time last year, we had well over 10 inches of rain in the Foothills. This year, not so much. Only a couple inches thus far. I suppose last winter was the strange one. It is actually normal for it to NOT rain in October. Good news, though, there is finally a good storm in the forecast for next weekend. I am excited. Let’s pray it is just the beginning of another good winter for us.

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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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