‘Up The Gut’ to The Falls of Steels Creek (NC) – 7-13-2016

The last time I visited Steels Creek Falls was on December 19, 2012 and was with my now dearly departed friend, Dave Aldridge and fellow cohort, Tommy ‘Bol’Dar’ Warden. We only managed to see the main falls that day so ever since then it has been on my list to return during a warmer season and go ‘up the gut’ of the creek in order to see and experience everything it has to offer, which is a lot. Some 4 years later i was finally able to successfully accomplish this feat. Along with my son Tyler Tarpley, and fellow hiker-trash friends John Forbes and Dan Till, we started at the local swimming hole just above the parking area at the end of the gravel forest service road where instead of taking the side trail to join the Mountains To sea Trail, we opted to go off trail and ‘up the gut’ of the creek to see all it had to offer. This is where the epicity began.

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Group shot taken at the lower Steels Creek falls

It was a warm, sunny day so the cold mountain water felt good as we were immediately met with a few deep water obstacles and rocks that seemed to grow in size the farther we continued upstream. As the sides got higher above us the scene became more gorge-like with basically no visible trails and very little signs of human travel. It was like we were suddenly in the wilds of some pristine western canyon. Tyler took the lead as usual and was always way out ahead of us except for when we crossed the ‘log of death’ as he opted to make his way around it while the rest of us took the risk and ninja log walked it across just as Tyler would without hesitation on our return trip.

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And so it begins,,,,,

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John captures this image of us at the very start of the ‘up the gut’ approach to the falls of Steels Creek (Photo by John Forbes)

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Large shoehorn looking rock sits beside the log of death

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Dan O contemplating whether to cross the log of death or climb around through some really gnarly stuff, verses crossing the head deep chasm,,,,

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Dan O crossing the log (Photo by John Forbes)

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Dan O chooses the ninja log walk and carefully proceeds

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Maximum confidence found, Dan O does a Gnome pose halfway across the log of death ! Ooh Rah !

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The choice was easy for John, he knew it was going to be the log the whole time,,

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Tyler emerges from the gnarly way around the log of death. It was not an easy route.

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Further upstream Dan O makes his way around one of many small waterfalls as the rocks increased in size

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Tyler leads the way up the gut !

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Zoomed shot of Tyler up ahead. The farther we went, the more scenic the area became.

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a two story high rock tower right on the right side of the creek. I remember looking down on this from high above on the MST (trail) on my last trip to the area. This thing is really huge.

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Dan O gets a pic of me beneath the behemoth wedge rock (Photo by Dan Till)

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Dan O stands at the base of this super tall rock tower. This is not even half of it so, maybe it`s a three story high rock ?

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me hanging out beneath a LARGE ROCK !!! (Photo by Dan Till)

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After getting around the ENORMOUS rock mountain seen behind John here, you can see the crawl method that was required to get up and over some of the smaller rocks as some were extremely slick while others had excellent traction and it was hard to judge between the two which kept us on our toes the entire way.

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Tyler and Dan O trying to get a view through the narrowing gorge as the rock formations continued to gain in size

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Tyler gives some scale to the size of the rocks we were passing under

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Tyler leading the way and giving scale to another one of many giant rocks found along this section of the creek

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Dan O about to investigate a huge rock !

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John Gnome poses beside the dinosaur sized rock

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Dan O looks small beneath the huge rock as he attempts some form of photography from there

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I took this picture in case the rocks moved so I`d have something to remember Dan O by !

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A good view of the large rocks and small falls seen as we go ‘up the gut’ ! (Photo by John Forbes)

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sometimes the little things have a large impact

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An old RAT man making his way ‘up the gut’ (Photo by John Forbes)

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There is much to see when going ‘up the gut’ that is never seen by the average visitor to this area (Photo by Dan Till)

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John at one of the many gorgeous small falls we would encounter on this day. I regret not taking the time to get my larger camera out for this one but, the sun was so bright I figured it would not have turned out well,,

There are some really huge rocks along the way as we forged our way upstream and several smaller waterfalls and cascades making the visuals outstanding the entire time. Eventually we came to a place where the entire creek seemed to just come to an end at a large pond sized pool however, I quickly recognized the area as being one I had seen described and pictured in ‘SC Jack`s Blog’ a few years ago. Here is where the creek makes a 90 degree turn as it comes down a very narrow slot type waterfall that has carved into the solid rock until it empties into this massive and very deep pool of water held by sides made of huge piles of rocks and debris. If you were following the water downstream you would see it strains out of the far right side but, for us we would have to get creative to make a hard left hand turn which would require swimming across the pool. The technical part would be how to get the packs and camera gear across.

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Tyler up ahead reaches the point where there is a huge wall of rocks that line what we would discover to be the amazing pond sized pool where the creek seems to dead end but is actually a sharp L turn and a narrow crevice with a waterfalls in it that lies just out of sight on the other side of the pool. A very unique scene to say the least

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HUGE pool as seen from the top of the rock wall that borders this entire thing. The creek is 90 degrees to the left in that crack that is barely showing in top left of this image

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Better view of the pool where the creek is hidden from sight as it makes its way into the pool from that rock crevice seen here. We were pleasantly surprised to find out there was an actual waterfall in that crack !

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I was first in the water to swim across the large pool (Photo by John Forbes)

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Me making the first swim across the large pool to investigate the other side (Photo by John Forbes)

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I pose to celebrate my successful swim across the large pool as Tyler and I stand on each side of where the creek comes in to the pool at. (Photo by John Forbes)

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My view once I swam across and climbed up beside the falls. You can see not only John who is about to make the swim across to join us but, also the large border of rocks that somehow was mysteriously formed back when this pool was made. The creek flows a hard 90 degree right hand turn behind John , the way we came up etc. This IS a magical place !

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Here you can get a better view of the bottom of the narrow falls and a display of the steep other side showing why you cant simply climb up that way and jump down or over to where I am standing. John is about to make the swim across the crack which is VERY DEEP !

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John takes the plunge ! A small Gnome in a large pool !

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John swims across the deep pool

The side to our left was basically steep cliffs that would be difficult to negotiate even after getting through some dense brush and debris. Even then it would leave you on the wrong side of the waterfall on a rock cliff that was just high enough to not be able to jump down from and going around the much longer right side would require going all the way around the pool through piles of rocks and very nasty growth and debris only to end up on an extremely steep slope that you would then have to bushwhack through continued briers and growth to reach the desired right hand side which is the only way to continue upstream.  If you were to follow the left (and slightly easier) side, you would be high on a cliff that only continues to rise higher and higher and as we would learn later, there was never a safe place to get down from it without a good rope system. It would stay that way and continue to gain elevation all the way to the top of the main falls upstream. It did not take us long to assess the situation which was expedited by Tyler and myself who promptly dropped our packs and dove into the deep pool and swam across it to the right side of the falls for further analysis. We ended up finding the shortest and shallowest way to get all the packs across which was to be the left side of the falls where we could then rope them down to someone on the right side where we would all end up swimming to get to. We took a good long break there beside the falls since it was such an awesome place before continuing upstream into what would quickly become even more gorge-ish.

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After Dan O swam across to join us at the falls (here he is sitting at the top of them) and after we got all the packs across and lowered down that cliff seen behind him, we all took a long, leisurely break to enjoy this incredible place. The big rock behind him was crazy as it seems to defy gravity standing upright on its narrow end.

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Dan O stands at the top of the crack falls. i could not get far enough away to get them all in the frame.

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Panning slightly right you can now see more of the gorge after the sharp L turn as it continues behind Dan O and Tyler. You can see it gets tighter and the cliff continues to rise on the left side. The cliff directly behind Dan O is the one we climbed from the base with the packs and tossed them down to one of us there afterwards we swam the pool to get to this side. it is the easiest way to do it and keep the packs and cameras out of danger of getting wet.

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Here i am trying to show just how steep this rock and falls is. I overexposed it to lighten it up in attempts to make the water show up as it was in the dark shade . It is really a very nice falls.

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A view looking back across the pool. I am trying to imagine the force of the floods it must have taken to move those rocks and place them there to form this pool and cause the creek to make this 90 degree L turn after cutting out the crack over many many years.

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Getting closer to the ‘balanced rock’ you can see the falls actually keep going quite a ways above it as the creek is losing elevation for a long distance here that we would be gaining when we continue climbing ‘up the gut’ of Steels Creek.

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Looking down on the pool it seems like the creek ends where in reality it flows out the extreme right hand side. I really enjoyed swimming in that pool.

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Looking down into the crack falls

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Looking farther up the crack falls past the balanced rock. These are really nicer falls than I can make these pictures do justice for.

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A really good perspective that shows the steep angle of the rocks here as john climbs out of the water after his swim across the pool (Photo by Dan Till)

Continuing to gain elevation as we now had a vertical cliff on our left side that grew higher and higher as we went, we quickly came to the next big thing which was the largest real waterfall we had seen thus far. It was really nice. Complete with a large, colorful log in front and a cave like area on its right side which turns out is the only way to get around and to the top of the falls. The rocks are smooth and very slick making it really hard to climb but, luckily some very thoughtful person (Thanks Lianne Pierrard !) had left a nice purple rope for others to use to make it much easier and safer to make the climb to the top of the falls. We took some time here to enjoy these beautiful falls and had a lot of fun climbing through the cracks between the house sized rocks in order to continue on. The sun was shining so brightly that taking pics was not a high priority at this time for me at least.

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Tyler leads the way after a long break at crack falls. Here you can see him way ahead as the top of crack falls are still visible as they continue all the way to where he is. These are quite impressive as they run the base of the large cliff that continues to get higher and higher above us as we make our way farther upstream.

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Looking back down the crack falls towards the pool

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Following the beautiful crack falls as it cuts its way at the base of the cliff. The rock formations are awesome.

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Following the creek up crack falls as it continues to climb higher

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Looking back down crack falls at Dan O and John, the pool is now just out of sight as I try to capture the beauty of this stretch

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John and Dan`s view of me from where they are standing in the previous picture. This shows how far the falls actually go from the large pool to the top where I am standing. (Photo by John Forbes)

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Another of the same view looking back trying to show the high cliff and the tall trees that make up the beauty of this pristine gorge

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A happy gnome poses near the top of crack falls

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Once I reached the highest point above crack falls, I could see the next event that as you can see, Tyler had already discovered and climbed to the top of !

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Looking back just in time to catch this double gnome pose !

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Tyler taking it all in at the top of the falls in the hot sun

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The huge log added to the intense beauty of these falls.

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Looking back at John and Dan O as they catch up to us at the falls you can start to see more of the cliffs. As you can tell here you still can not see the top of them. They are very high above us and keep gaining the whole time between here and the main falls another half mile upstream. I did not see any places that would be possible to go up or down without a major rope system so we made a good call not going up that side from the large pool below.

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These are really nice falls and under cloudy conditions would make some really good pics. Today would not be that day.

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I could not resist getting a shot of the falls framed with this colorful log. Again I highly regret not taking the time to get my larger camera out even with the harsh light.

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The falls (Photo by Dan Till)

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Dan O and myself taking pics of these falls. I am standing in front of the dark abyss that is the cave-like crack that we would use to climb up a rope to reach the top of the falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Dan O getting his first view of the dark hole and the rope we would have to climb (Photo by John Forbes)

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John`s view of us from under the large log in front of the falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Up close view of the top of the falls as seen from below

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Up close of these magnificent falls. This would have been much better with my other camera and on a tripod but hey, I`ll be back !

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As you can tell from this side angle, there is no bad profile of this falls.

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Extraordinary Zen Garden made by Mother Nature at the base of these falls there to greet you at the entrance to the cavern where you must climb the rope through the tight crack in order to get to the top of the falls.

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Close up of the natural made Zen Garden at the base of the falls. The colors and textures here fascinated me. I have always said there is no one better at landscaping than Mother Nature herself.

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The falls and the Zen garden (Photo by Dan Till)

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Just to the right and beyond the Zen Garden is the vertical ascent up through the crack that is the only route to the top of the falls. Here I found the purple rope Tyler had already advised me of. That rock was wet and extremely slick. we could have climbed up it but, the rope definitely made it much easier and safer.

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Tyler above the top of the rope looking down at us as we each take turns climbing up to the top of the falls where he is

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I went first (Photo by John Forbes)

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A RAT on a rope ! (Photo by John Forbes)

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Making the transition from the steeper wet  rock to the next one in order to reach the hole at the top.  The first picture I ever saw of this crack did not have any of the huge logs clogging it. (Photo by John Forbes)

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Almost there (Photo by Dan Till)

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John begins his ascent on the rope !

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John keeping full body weight on the rope at all times due to the extreme slick footing

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John climbing up the rope

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John climbing the rope (Photo by Dan Till)

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John on the rope

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A tiny Gnome head slowly appears from below as John completes the climb up the rope through the huge rock crack to reach the top of the falls

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The gnome squeezes through the tight gap between the log and the rock while making the transition from the rope to the log

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Once again the Earth gives birth to the Gnome !

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Getting out of the crack was harder than the climb itself !

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Dan O takes his turn climbing up through the crack

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Dan O`s longer legs does seem to make this climb easier !

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Dan O making the change from the slanted wet rock to the flatter one while still holding his weight on the rope

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Dan O emerges from the crack

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Crazy caveman look ?

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A happy Dan O almost out of the crack !

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It`s not over til it`s over !

Soon after these falls we started seeing numerous potholes resembling the signature look of Steels Creek Falls. The creek was gaining elevation quickly now as we negotiated around these huge water filled craters and I could see Tyler disappear out of sight way up ahead of us and I knew that his added haste meant he had the main events in his sights. He had already been to the lower falls and back by the time we made it to where I seen him disappear. Within a short time we would all be at the base of the largest falls of the day so far which is the lower part of the main falls. Most people never see these falls due to the difficulty in getting down to them as most only see the upper falls either from the top where the MST (trail) takes them where they would not even see that the lowers exist or, from where the braver, more experienced hikers go down the steep embankment trail and use the flimsy, old, wet ropes that allow a view of the entire upper falls from near the base. (most pics you see of the main falls is taken from that point).

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Tyler can be seen way up ahead just before he disappears into that narrow rocky gorge ahead

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Looking ahead at Tyler and rocky gorge to come

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Same view of the gorge to come only from a much higher and better viewing perch (Photo by John Forbes)

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Zooming in to see Tyler as he negotiates the next large, rocky obstacles

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A beautiful waterfall in the ‘much too bright for pictures’ sun

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Tyler has already went up and came back, dropped his pack and is exploring the area as he waits on the rest of us slowpokes to catch up !

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Little Rat in a little pool

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Going Up The Gut !! (Photo by John Forbes)

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A beauty of a falls and the ruggedness of this area seen only by going ‘up the gut’ (Photo by John Forbes)

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Dan and John taking pics of the falls as we prepare to continue up the rocky gorge

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Some of the many deep potholes that are so popular along this creek

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More really nice falls as we enter into the now tighter and more rugged part of the gorge

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Tyler and me climbing the huge rock stairway (Photo by Dan Till)

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Finally, the first view of the lower Steels Creek Falls ! Tyler was already sizing up that fallen tree that we would be removing.

To get down to the lower  falls requires another descent (if you are coming from top down that is) on a much steeper and longer rope that is harder to get back up but, if you are able to do it, it is well worth it as the base of the lower falls is a magical place to be and one of the most premier swimming holes that I have ever been to. There was a long tree that had fallen down which we promptly removed to beautify the area and then proceeded to take a really long break here to swim and climb into the massive potholes that lie underneath the Pterodactyl rock that oversees the deep splash pool at the base of the falls.

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Lower falls before we removed the fallen tree

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Lower falls after the fallen tree was dragged out of view

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Lower falls

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Trying to imagine the force it took to stack all these huge rocks up

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John takes in the beauty of these falls while beside the Pterodactyl Rock

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Tyler takes a little siesta to warm up and dry out during our long lunch break here at the lower falls

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John does a gnome pose at the base of the lower falls

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Gnome posing at the base of the lower falls

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John climbs to a puckering perch at the base of the falls

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Gnome pose. Difficulty 7.5

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John chillin` at the base of the falls

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John at the base of the lower falls

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Some kind of inverted gnome pose ? A fallen gnome ?

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Closer up on the Pterodactyl rock wing

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A Zen moment ? “Ohmm,,Ohhmmm,,,,Ooh Rah,,,”

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Zoomed shot of the Zen moment

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John, obviously totally in the zone !

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Gnome posing on a wet slanted surface. Difficulty 9.0

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Tyler and me relaxing in the water at the base of the lower falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Me in pothole Heaven (Photo by John Forbes)

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Swimming at the base of the lower falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Hanging out at the base of the lower falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Dan O prepares to launch (Photo by John Forbes)

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Dan O diving into the pool at the base of the lower falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Not sure what is going on here but, perhaps I am trying to communicate with the stone Pterodactyl ? (Photo by Dan Till)

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Lower falls as seen from behind the stone Pterodactyl wing

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In this shot you can barely see the top of the upper falls upstream

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A meeting of the minds during our lunch break

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Taken with my larger camera

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Taken with my larger camera

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Taken with my larger camera

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Taken with my larger camera

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Taken with my larger camera. Money could not have bought a cloud on this day !

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Taken with my larger camera

After a long and refreshing lunch and swim break there, while waiting and hoping for some clouds to come by, we packed up and took turns climbing the long rope up the slick and very steep left side having to maneuver around a large log right at the top where it brings you out on top of yet another rock spine that runs on a 45 degree angle horizontally leading down to the top of the lower falls and the entrance to the splash pool at the base of the main / upper falls. Of course this is where the other rope is since it is not possible to stand anywhere on that slimy rock spine without it and a fall here would result in catastrophe.

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If you look closely you can see the rope ganging down from where it is tied to the large log above. This climb is the only way out of this location

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Our exit ramp

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Lunch break

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Tyler taking it easy at the lower falls

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The one cloud we had here all day and of course it was after I put my larger camera up !

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Lower falls during the only cloud we had all day !

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Tyler takes the lead and was the first to complete the steep climb up the rope

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Tyler finds the rope

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Tyler on the rope

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Tyler made the rope climb look easy

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Climbing the rope to get to the upper falls

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The hardest part of this rope climb was getting over the large log while still holding yourself on the rope

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Tyler goes under the log with ease

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Tyler looks back once on the other side of the log to let us know the rope climb continues above it !

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I was next to make the climb up the rope (Photo by Dan Till)

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Making my up the steep climb, almost to the log (Photo by Dan Till)

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Dan O nears the log on the rope climb (Photo by John Forbes)

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My parting shot of the lower falls before my turn on the rope

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Last view of the falls before I took my turn on the rope and left the rock Pterodactyl to continue to guard the lower falls

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After I got above the log I stopped to get some pics of Dan O and john as they made their climb

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Dan O making his way up the steep climb

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That look of sheer determination !

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Cameras do not show steepness very well but, the muscles in Dan O`s arms display the effort required to make this near vertical climb

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Dan O, obviously happy to be this close to the log and closer to the top.

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If you look really hard you can see a gnome (in yellow) patiently awaiting his turn on the rope

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As I completed my climb up the rope and reached the top, I could see Tyler already on the next rope which i recognized as being the one I used on my last trip here to hold on to while I got a picture of the upper / main Steels Creek Falls

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Looking down at the lower falls and the Pterodactyl rock from above

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My first view (on this trip) of the upper falls. You can see the rope still stretched tight as Tyler was still on it !

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Getting ready to join Tyler on the next rope which is the only way to get down to the base of the upper falls

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Tyler on the rope making his way down to the water below the main falls

It was at that time that I was able to do what I had been wanting to do since the last time I was there, which was to rope down into the huge splash pool and swim over to the base of the main falls and climb them, going around all the signature potholes all the way to the top ! Tyler and I completed this mission successfully ! Coming back down was a different story and required a backwards crab-walk to keep from losing traction and sliding down the side of the falls. It does not look that steep until you are actually trying to come back down it. We took a long soak in a neck deep pothole that resides at the tip top edge of the main falls. All I can say is that is was amazing and very therapeutic.

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The main event. Steels Creek Falls proper

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The main event, Steels Creek Falls

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making my way down to water level so I can get off the rope as it is not safe to stand here without it as this is the top of the lower falls which you do NOT want to fall off of !

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Closer and closer to the water below the main falls

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main falls on Steels Creek

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Looking up at Tyler, now off the rope as I return to my pack to drop the camera so I can hit the water !

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My puckering perch as I hold on to the rope in one hand and the camera with the other (Photo by John Forbes)

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Me straddling the spine between the two falls. This looks flat but, it is not. Without the rope you could not be anywhere on that spine. (Photo by John Forbes)

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Top of the lower falls and what I call the ‘balanced rock’ which is the head of the pterodactyl rock

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My view from above the lower falls

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The entire creek funnels into this narrow chasm before going over the lower falls

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Panning slightly to my left to show the water as it spills out of the upper falls splash pool and enters into the narrow chasm before going over the lower falls

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Panning a little more left you now see the very deep splash pool of the main Steels Creek Falls that I was about to jump in to !

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Awesome swimming hole at the base of the main falls

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Tyler going down spine between the upper and lower falls on the rope to join me as we are about to jump into the deep swimming pool there. (Photo by John Forbes)

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Tyler and I swimming at the base of the upper falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Here I am mastering the art of ‘Gnome posing’ at the main Steels Creek Falls (Photo by Dan Till)

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Tyler and me doing a Hillbilly Baptism at the upper falls (Photo by Dan Till)

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My Zen moment at the upper falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Me becoming one with the falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Tyler and me beginning our climb up the falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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This is the only picture that shows the steep angle of the rock beside the falls that we would take to climb to the top. Once on the bare rock the pics do not show its steepness. If they were wet I am sure they could not be climbed (Photo by John Forbes)

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Tyler and myself submerging in the deep pools at the top of the falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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My official gnome pose at the top of the falls with Tyler (Photo by John Forbes)

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Tyler and I having fun near the top of the falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Hanging out on the upper falls. Excuse my overhanging skin where I had just lost 49 pounds ! (Photo by John Forbes)

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If you look closely you can see two heads floating on the water at the top of the falls !! Tyler and I are neck deep in the pothole at the brink of the main falls ! (Photo by John Forbes)

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Better shot of the falls plus you can see heads floating on top of the water near the top of the falls as Tyler and I are neck deep in fun ! (Photo by John Forbes)

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I think this was my favorite thing to to do at the upper falls ! (Photo by Dan Till)

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Zoomed shot (Photo by John Forbes)

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Something about climbing a falls that makes one feel manly !! (Photo by Dan Till)

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To get back down from the top of the upper falls, we had to crab walk to keep from losing traction and sliding down the rough rocks to the rocky water below. The picture does not portray the actual steepness very well but trust me, I would not be in that position if it was not necessary ! (Photo by John Forbes)

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Crab walking down the falls. This is not to be funny but, out of necessity to keep from losing traction as the picture does not show the actual steepness of this rock. (Photo by John Forbes)

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Post crab-walk swim to get back out of the pool in order to continue upstream to the next falls above these (Photo by Dan Till)

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Partially obstructed view of Steels Creek Falls (after a long swim and climbing session) as I made the final climb out upon our departure from the falls

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One more parting shot as I climbed up away from the falls

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Parting shot displaying more of the top part of the falls

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It is always hard to leave this beautiful falls

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Slight zoom of the potholes

We spent a long time at these falls as the sun was unrelenting and only a couple clouds came by so, once again I did not manage any special pics but, I had enough fun swimming there to where it did not bother me in the least. The only reason we left when we did was because I wanted to continue upstream to find the ‘Screaming Right Turn Falls’ aka ‘Beverly Hillbilly Falls’ that are completely off trail a few clicks above the main falls. We climbed up the rope and then like goats we continued the steep climb up to finally reach the MST (trail) which we took to the top of the falls and beyond until eventually it turns away from the creek completely and starts gaining elevation quickly. Going off trail from there to stay with the creek we eventually came out at a massive boulder garden with some rocks being the size of two story apartments. As soon as we climbed to the top of one of them we could see the next falls.

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There are some really pretty spots along the creek as we make our way upstream beyond the main falls in search of the Screaming Right/Left? Hand Turn Falls aka Beverly Hillbilly Falls that are upstream

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Lower end of the boulder garden as it ‘strains’ the creek

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Looking back I see John as he pops up on top of some of the large rocks in the bolder garden and gets his first view of the falls !

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John taking the time to gnome pose atop one of the large rocks !

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John`s view from his puckering perch atop the huge rock ! (Photo by John Forbes)

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A happy gnome will strike this pose almost always

It took a minute to negotiate the enormous rock formations that stood between us and these very unique falls. It was worth all the effort. So much in fact that Tyler and I had carried rubber rafts which we quickly inflated and floated up and down the narrow channel that makes up the Screaming Right Hand Turn aka Beverly Hillbilly Falls ! The water has carved out a perfect and VERY deep (over my head) slot over the years forming a perfect L as the falls come straight down into this very narrow channel and immediately turn 90 degrees for a long distance before becoming a creek again. The water is so deep here that it appears black. It was getting late in the afternoon but, the one of a kind scenery at these falls made it impossible to leave until after a significant time was spent to thoroughly enjoy ever aspect of them and the surrounding area.

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I present to you the Screaming Left hand Turn falls aka Beverly Hillbilly Falls

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Looking back I see John posing atop yet another large rock as he makes his way closer to the falls

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John does give scale to the size of these rocks. This area is completely off trail

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John`s view of us from the rock he is gnome posing on (Photo by John Forbes)

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These are a very unique falls as you can see

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Tyler has pumped up the raft and is ready to put in !

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Ready to launch !

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Splashdown !

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Tyler fighting the current to reach the falls

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Tyler enjoying a relaxing float down the channel while john checks out the perimeter of the falls

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Looking downstream into the huge rock garden that strains the creek after the falls

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Dan O getting some pics while Tyler is enjoying the raft

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I doubt anyone has rafted this before !

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Ahh, this is the life !!

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A cool RAT lounging around at the falls. (Photo by John Forbes)

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Tyler checking out the falls up close

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Tyler`s attempt at a Hillbilly Baptism is tough due to the lack of footing and force of the water

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Tyler swims the channel. Or is it a moat ? Either way, its way over our heads deep !

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Father and son swimming the channel at Screaming Right hand Turn aka Beverly Hillbilly Falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Tyler swims the channel

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The falls

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Tyler having a hard time holding on as there are no footholds to stand on and no edges to grasp (Photo by John Forbes)

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Trying my best to gnome pose with nowhere to stand ! Tyler swimming. (Photo by John Forbes)

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Trying my best to do a Hillbilly Baptism but, the force of the falls makes it nearly impossible. (Photo by John Forbes)

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Base of the falls

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Top of the falls

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Taken with my larger camera

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Taken with my larger camera

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Tyler enjoying the falls (taken with my larger camera)

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Me getting in some float time (taken with my larger camera)

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Tyler enjoying the float (Photo by Dan Till)

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Tyler testing out his Spiderman abilities at the falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Rafting the falls was a ton of fun ! (Photo by John Forbes)

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The only semi-successful Hillbilly Baptism I could muster here (Photo by John Forbes)

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Taken with my larger camera

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Taken with my larger camera

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One of the best pics of the day (Photo by John Forbes)

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Another one of the best shots taken at these falls (Photo by Dan Till)

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Taken with my larger camera

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Looking down the moat. Taken with my larger camera

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Me taking some last minute pics before our departure (Photo by John Forbes)

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Looking down the channel, last shot with my larger camera before we left

Finally it did come time to leave as we know there are no other falls above these between there and the next road crossing, and we had worked up a voracious appetite and had post hike grub on our minds. We deflated the raft, packed up our gear and slowly made our way back across the behemoth rock formations and then into the woods for a short bushwhack back to the MST (trail) that would provide us a much quicker and easier route back down to the local swimming hole where we had began this ‘up the gut’ adventure several hours earlier.

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making our way back through the massive rocks

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John negotiating some of the rocks

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These looked like bear scratch marks

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Looking back I can see John following us through the huge rock garden

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John giving scale to just one of many rocks this size that must be climbed over or around to get to and from these falls

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We all did have fun playing in the rock garden

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Me and Tyler making our way back across the boulder garden (Photo by John Forbes)

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This rock resembled a ship and was as large as one too !

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After making great time coming back on the MST (trail) we made it back to our starting point where we entered the creek on this portentous ‘up the gut’ journey

From there it was just a matter of getting back down and across the creek and around the swimming hole to get back on the old road trail to reach the vehicle. We would stop at the Italian restaurant in Pineola for some awesome food to end another near perfect day spent in one of Natures best locations. We were so hungry that I dont think anyone took the time to take any pictures of it ! Until next time,,,,,

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Tyler waiting on us to catch up so we can proceed downstream to the local swimming hole and out to the vehicle.

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The log of death (Photo by John Forbes)

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Tyler and me crossing the log of death (Photo by Dan Till)

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Me and Tyler crossing the ‘log of death’ (Photo by John Forbes)

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Live action shot of the ninja log walk (Photo by John Forbes)

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Tyler focusing hard as he crosses the ‘log of death’ (Photo by John Forbes)

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Live action shot of Tyler crossing the ‘log of death’ (Photo by John Forbes)

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With food and home on his mind, Tyler makes short work of the log of death on the return trip !!

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Looking back at Dan O and John as they make their way across the creek above the locals swimming hole

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Watching John and Dan O navigate around the difficult trail at the swimming hole

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Clinging on to roots like a monkey to get around this obstacle. It`s easier when you are not tired

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Having long legs DOES help !

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Almost there !

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Finally back on a real trail ! This leads a short ways to the parking area near the end of the road.

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An anxious Tyler, always waiting on us to catch up ! There is a small section or road one has to walk to get to the parking area from the creek.

Posted on 12 April '17 by , under RATtreks.

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