So are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? Well, you may just have to wait … until 2018.

Even though this stunning 54 ft. high waterfall is less than 2 miles along the coast from a very popular beach at Pt Reyes, very few people have ever been to see it. I have only seen one other photo of it (and it was a crappy one). Why is that? Because there are only one or two days out of the entire year that you can see the waterfall (especially with good lighting), and as for this year, now that the rainy season is over, there may not be any more opportunities at all. There are a number of conditions that need to be just right, and I describe them all in detail on my website page. So if you want to know how to get here, please check there. This hike takes a lot of careful planning.

This weekend the conditions seemed about perfect. Even so, there was trouble.

I arrived at the trailhead before sunrise.  I could hear a strange animal squealing somewhere out in the dark. What the heck is that? It was quite frightening. I know there are ranches out here but it certainly could not be a cow. What is it then? Coyote? Mountain Lion? Sasquatch? It wasn’t until afterwards I realized what it was because that is when I saw them: Tule Elk!

Anyway, the hike started out as an easy jaunt down that previously mentioned popular beach.  Before too long I came to the interesting part. The deadly part. You have to wade through the ocean water around a corner. The water was up to my waist. The tide was still going out and the waves were still coming in. Should I wait longer for the tide to go out more? I thought about that, but if I had done so, then when I got back here later, the tide would be coming back in, and that would be even more serious. I decided to get around that corner as fast as I could and hope for the best. About halfway, I got hit by a sneaker wave. I saw it coming. Never turn your back on the ocean, right? There was nothing I could do but hold onto the rocks. The wave almost pulled me off the rocks and potentially out to sea, but I held on. I tried to get through the rest of the water as quick as I could before another one got me. I found it difficult to pull myself up in waist deep water onto the rocks, but I finally got up and onto safe ground. I was shaken, but not stirred. I decided to continue on, knowing it would be easier when I got back to this section later. My GPS was in my pocket (not sure why I had it in there), and it was soaked. I thought it was toasted, yet it amazingly survived the ordeal. Now that is good construction, Magellan! However, my GoPro was not so fortunate. I thought I had it held above water when the wave hit, but obviously water got on it. I did not have it in the waterproof container because I did not expect to go swimming! It was dead in the water. I am hoping it comes back to life later, otherwise that will be an expensive casualty. This was definitely one of the more stupid things I have done in my life. Perhaps when I was younger there were worse incidents, but I don’t remember them now. I realize I am posting this on April Fool’s Day, but I assure you all this happened as I described. No joke.

The rest of the hike was a cakewalk in comparison. You have to walk through a cave which is fascinating, then you are walking along the beach the rest of the way, but it is very rocky and slow going because the rocks were wet and slippery. There were strange bugs on the rocks that skittered away as I approached, hundreds and hundreds of them. They were like cockroaches. Sand cockroaches? I also saw a bunch of crabs, including one huge one on the sand, upside down! There’s not many things more pathetic than a crab on its back, flailing away. I turned him over with my hiking pole and I heard him say “thank you, sir” before he scuttled off to the ocean.

I finally arrived at the waterfall. It was marvelous! It is such a remote falls that few have ever seen, and you can get right up close to it. I was hoping the flow would be stronger, but it was still flowing decent enough. I would have loved to stay here much longer but I had to get back before the tide turned.

When I got back to the wading area, the tide was about at the peak low point. It was much easier getting back through this section but even so, the waves were still coming up to the rocks. I had to time it carefully but I made it across without incident. If I ever come here again I will want to make sure there is a lower minus tide than I had this day.

I rested on the beach in the sun for awhile before heading back up to the car. It was a lovely morning and no one else on this popular beach at all. I felt like I should do a second hike but I was not prepared for that so I just went back to the car and drove home. It was quite an interesting morning at the ocean.



  1. Robin S Kent Says:

    Wow, great story, glad it turned out well. I got nailed by a sneaker wave in Iceland but it was not as nasty as that one, plus there were several other photographers to help should it have been more serious. Happy ending, especially since you got the shot.

  2. Leon Says:

    Thanks Robin. It certainly could have been much worse

Leave a Reply