Thursday, January 20, 2005

Apparition Falls

I first heard about the discovery and first visit to the falls from my brother. Apparently, Tom Kloster, who had helped us rediscover Maynard Drawson's journal and Family Falls had also stumbled upon an unknown 150' falls on Mt. Hood. OPB had accompanied him in April 2004 and the show aired the following November. Very shortly after this airing, I headed up solo to check this place out. The real intrigue for me was to pioneer a new route into the falls. You see, the initial group could not ascend the canyon and were forced to progress from above and finally rappel into the base of the falls. I had my sights set on finding a way up the uncharted canyon they had glimpsed from above.

Finally, the snow had cleared enough for my truck to get to the creek that the falls was on and I set off. Unfortunately, due to work schedules and other scheduling conflicts, Todd and Dan were unable to join me. So, I headed up the creek solo.

It was obvious that there had been a lot of people on this lower section of creek. There was no trail, but a lot of damage from people walking through and a lot of trees to climb over.

After about 20 minutes, I reached the falls that had forced the first group out of the canyon. This falls was to become known as Disappointment Falls for obvious reasons. After careful study, it looked like I could climb the left side of the falls. I'm sure that this wasn't an option before as the water would have been too high in April.

After some dicey scrambling, I made it to the top of the falls. It became immediately clear to me that there hadn't been anyone in this canyon.

Looking back downstream from the top of the falls

The ground was covered in moss but had a very delicate hold on the rock. No matter how hard I tried to leave no trace of my passage I couldn't do it. There was no way that someone had come through here in the last few years and the very least. This had me excited. It was also clear why the first team could not rejoin the creek above the falls. The canyon gorges out making reentry impossible.

Looking up into the little gorge

The author takes a break in the little gorge just below Little Gorge Falls

Shortly after entering the upper canyon, I came to another falls. It wasn't huge, but a nice surprise. I was able to climb this falls on the left as well. When the first crew returned, they named this Little Gorge Falls.

Looking back downstream from the top of Little Gorge Falls

I continued on and the gorge began to open up signaling that I must be getting close to the falls.

Finally, I rounded the corner to see the big falls. It was impressive for such a small creek. I looked around for awhile, and wondered if I could climb out and get on top of the falls. Again, with careful study, a route on the right presented itself. This was definitely the hardest climb and I was all to aware that I was alone. From the top, you could stand directly over the falls and look into the canyon.

My mind got to wondering what lay upstream. I then headed on up, just to see what else this little creek may hold. There wasn't much. I did come across a small slide, but otherwise there was nothing of interest.

I was getting a little tired and the snow was getting deeper, so I headed back down. Negotiating down climbing my route around Apparition Falls is not one I wish to repeat. This was sketchy at best. The rest of the hike out went without a problem.

It is a little amazing to me that a falls of this size had been missed by the countless people that have wondered all over this area. How it never found it's way onto a map is beyond me. It is a neat falls, but one that I wish it's location had remained a secret. The canyon floor is incredibly delicate. I hated the damage that one person moving slowly created. I can not imagine what it looks like now that more people, including the first team have gone through there. There are far too few places like this to see them trampled on and destroyed. I do want to go back one more time to give Todd and Dan a chance to see the falls. Low water is best as it allows for passage in the stream bed rather than the sensitive banks. If you go and check this place out for yourself, or any of the other hikes I put on here for that matter, tread lightly. Far too many people fail to practice 'leave no trace' ethics. It is my hope that the feeling of discovery that I felt can continue. Footprints and human created damage really take away from an experience like this.

No comments: