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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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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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Rock Creek Falls, 42 ft. high.

I was a bit bummed about that log across the bottom. It does not add character to the falls, as some logs do (Lion Slide Falls), and I do not think it has been there too long. It might be a new addition in the last year or two. But all is not lost. The colorful trees beside the waterfall were a nice bonus.

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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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