Black Friday hiking … I woke up not knowing where I should go hiking (again). So many possibilities, so little time. I quickly decided on a destination: Oroville. I thought I could snag a few waterfalls up in that area, the first one being on Empire Creek, but…

The first issue was the road: it was rough! For some reason, I had thought this road was paved. Not so much. It was dirt and very rough. The ruts in the road were so deep they were up to my kneecaps! (slight exaggeration – but not by much). I starting driving down it, but before very long decided it was just no good for my SUV with little enough clearance. I parked along the road and decided to walk. This would make for a very long and difficult hike, instead of a quick and easy hike. It would be 10 miles round trip, and a total elevation gain of about 2400 ft. Yikes! Well, I had all day, and I was in no hurry, so I decided to go for it. I am definitely glad I decided to walk and not drive, because the road seemed to get worse as I descended down to the river. The scenery along the road was disgusting as well. People here just dump all their garbage off the side of the road. I saw everything you can think of, including an old boat. Absolutely awful and stupid.

I was not alone on this Black Friday hike, either. It was quite the busy road. Much of this area is private property, and people live down here, not so much in houses but in shacks. Someone even got a big camper down here, I’m not sure how, and it probably won’t ever be going back up that awful hill. I think these are more like summer homes, but it is winter now, and I still saw a lot of activity down here on this day. I figured I would be leaving all the homes and private property behind as I crossed the river and climbed 1200 ft. up the other side.

However, as I approached the creek and near the top of the waterfall, I found more private property. Way up here? Isn’t this public land up here? Not only was it private, but the owners were out and about. I was not sure if I could continue or not, or if I would be going through their property to the falls. There was a big large Keep Out sign. That is not a good sign. However, and very fortunately, I saw some of the people along the road, and asked them if I could continue to the falls. They said, yes I could. No problem. All righty then!

My Google Earth route told me it would be very easy to get down to the waterfall. It lied big time. It was extremely brushy as I approached the falls, and the worst part: the poison oak was absolutely and incredibly awful! There was no way around it. I was in the stuff up to my eyeballs. Literally. Empire Creek was striking back at me with a vengeance. It did not want me here. But I had come all this way, and there was no turning back now. I finally got down to the creek at the bottom of this beautiful 38 ft. high waterfall. It was marvelous.

Th rest of the week, however, was not a very happy one. It was about 6 hours from the time I was in the oak until I got home and scrubbed down. That’s a long time. I only got one rash spot on my body (which is pretty amazing in itself), however it was in the worst possible location: my eye. Ugh. My eye was all blown out like a puffer fish. Was it worth going through all that oak to see this waterfall? Humm … humm … well yes I suppose it was. It is certainly a real beauty. Nonetheless, I won’t likely ever come back here.

By the time I got back to the car, I was very very tired and certainly did not have the energy to go on another hike. So I only got to the one waterfall on this Black Friday, but it was a terrific hike. Except for that darn oak.

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