A blog about outdoor adventure and Vanlife

In Search of Hidden Waterfalls and Wildflowers

(This post is subtitled- “How I dropped my digital camera into a waterfall.”)

Each season has different qualities that we love.  The Northern California coast has a distinct rainy season.  In the spring, our golden hills turn green.  Creeks are full, and seasonal waterfalls appear.  From years of running, riding, and hiking, we’ve learned about many “off the beaten path” waterfalls.  On this day, we went to visit one of our favorites.

Not too far into our hike, we started climbing along the creek.  The ferns and moss were very happy with the cool, damp weather.  Small cascading pools formed here and there.

Daisy Trail Dog and wild iris

Did I mention spring wildflowers?  How about springer spaniels?  How about springers spaniels who are positively stoked to be out hiking and playing among the flowers.  Who says dogs don’t smile?

Daisy Trail Dog features prominently in the Tahoe Sux blog.  She shows her emotions like any human.  Here she is, posing with a wild Douglas Iris- just happy to be in the moment.


H and Daisy Trail Dog

We crossed the creek one last time, crossing on a small log across a narrow spot in the creek.  H shows her log ballet skills.

There are a few weeks of spring when the wildflowers are out in force.  Most of them are small and delicate, but there are flashes of color throughout the hills.  You just need to slow down occasionally to look at them.  I’m embarrassed that I don’t know the names of more of them.

California Poppies

This is one of my favorite waterfalls.  It isn’t particularly large, or dramatic.  You have to hike a couple miles in on obscure unmarked trails.  In almost twenty years of coming here,  I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen other people.  On this day, we saw no one.

The water collects and drops through a slot into a deep pool before spilling into the next pool.  The first pool is surprisingly deep for such a small waterfall.  I’ve hiked out here after a big storm and seen water roaring through the slot.  In the summer it dwindles to a trickle.  Today was somewhere in between.

While I was helping Daisy Trail Dog across the slippery rocks to the upper pool, my digital camera fell out of my pocket and clattered down the lower falls to the lower pool!  I hadn’t planned on an unexpected skinny dip.  (I couldn’t see the camera anywhere in the water).  A light rain began to fall to boot, and I had to laugh as I stripped off my clothes.  H, from the safety of shore, said “watching you is making me cold.”  Fortunately the water was only waist deep at it’s deepest.  Still, I was pretty much submerged since I was feeling under all the nooks and crannies of the bottom.

Preparing for an unexpected dip to look for my lost camera

After a few minutes of fumbling around I came up with the camera.  And it still worked!  Kudos to the Pentax Optio W90.  It really lived up the waterproof, shockproof advertising.  Needless to say, the water was quite refreshing.  H definitely missed out.

Daisy Water Dog thought the lost camera thing was hilarious.

Camera recovered and clothes back on!

Lost camera drama over, we started part two of our hike back to the start.  The creek continues to create pools and waterfalls. Ferns and moss cling to the walls of the canyon.

It’s a narrow slot canyon, and the trail sometimes veers away from the creek.  When I say “trail,”  I mean that it’s little more than an animal path, lined with poison oak. There are many unseen waterfalls you can vividly hear in the distance.  Getting to them, though, requires crashing through brambles and poison oak on a steep slope.

"Leaves of three, let it be" Poison oak is in abundance here.

Despite the narrow trail, there still plenty of wildflowers… and other flora and fauna.

Succulents and moss cling to the rocks

Slug! Gross and cool cool at the same time.

Ferns and moss grow out of this fallen laurel, suspended over the creek

Daisy Log Dog has to check out whatever I'm looking at too.

A few more small waterfalls clatter over the rocks

A light rain obscures the ridges as we hike back to the start

Daisy Trail Dog continues to bounce

The light is fading as we pass the last and largest waterfall.

Heading back to the start

When writing a blog post, I usually let it sit overnight before making (at least) one last proofread.  In reading over my own posts, it seems like I dumb down many of our adventures.  I suppose that I could re-write the post to make it appear more extreme and dramatic.  After all, it was nearly 5 miles of hiking in my minimalist Vibram Five Fingers (and H in her New Balance Minimus shoes) on obscure, rocky, steep trails lined with poison oak, with a light rain on and off, and getting back to the car at dark. And dude, I totally dropped my camera down a waterfall and had to go in after it!  How extreme is that!

So much popular media is geared toward making everything seem more extreme and dramatic (flip on any reality TV show), that I think I go the opposite way in my blog posts.  I don’t mean to dumb down our adventures.  It was a great day, and a great time, and beautiful despite the overcast day and sporadic rain.

We came, We saw, We played.  That is all.

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Categorised in: Backcountry, Dogs and Paws, Trails

5 Responses »

  1. Great post! you have a great voice, and your photos are awesome!


    • Thanks so much! The blog is a great writing exercise for me, and we try to share our love of adventures big and small. One of the side benefits is that through the blog, I’ve learned about lots of other people doing awesome things too. We did a road trip through Western Colorado in summer 2010. Un-freaking believably beautiful! (a topic for future blog posts). Wish we had more time to spend in the Breckenridge area.


  2. Colorado is a beautiful place! We’ve made it a goal to visit as much of it as possible (and some other pretty beautiful states as well.) Couldn’t help but notice you’ve got the Colorado State flower in a few of those photos (the Columbine). After a summer as a science camp counselor,I admit I’m obsessed with wildflowers.


  3. I enjoyed rreading your post



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