Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Afternoon Boulder Hopping and Some Hoping

Had one class today. My life can't get much worse than that. But with a warm afternoon and sunshine there was no question where I was headed after I got home. I almost laid down for awhile after lunch but that is afternoon over territory. I wanted to go out anyway so it wasn't very difficult to push myself out the door.

I have had my mind set on a valley about 30km north from my house. After finding an obscure waterfall there with some guiding of a fellow enthusiast last month, I noticed the valley might hold some other secrets. I appreciate that the valley remains largely unnoticed. This means I can find things others may not have discovered. I'm still searching for a place off the beaten path that can be something of my own. I'm not sure this valley will be that as there is still a large amount to explore.

Valleys can be problematic to explore if there are waterfalls along the way with steep drop offs. This makes it next to impossible to continue up the valley along the water without taking a steep detour back up the valley sides. I thought I might run into this problem today as the stream area of the valley is almost entirely hidden by trees and foliage so I had no idea what I was getting in to. I stashed my car before the start of the forestry road and quickly found a somewhat dry stream of rocks and boulders I could descend. The elevation change is a couple hundred feet or more. From the forest road it is a long way down. When I got to the bottom I was pleased to see rocks and boulders of all sizes littered around the stream. Years of weathering and erosion has left very smooth and contoured rocks.

This is perfect for hiking up the valley. One can literally skip and jump from one rock to the next. You can make a path of your own choosing depending on what the rocks have laid out for you. I like this problem solving aspect. The best part is that there are so many boulders in this valley that it's rather easy to navigate without too many difficult situations. I'm constantly thinking in my mind that I need to be extra careful. I'm carrying my camera. Don't slip and fall off any rocks. I should really be thinking about not hurting myself though. Today nobody knew I was down there. That is a much worse thought. I imagined what would happen if I broke something and had to crawl to the top of the valley. Then somehow get back to the car and find help. Oh, I have a cell phone so I don't need to be that careful, right?

Dime A Dozen Water Hole

There are a number of such water holes along the route up the valley. This would make for a nice little swimming spot in the summer time. It isn't quite the swimming pool-esque spot like Niko but these are unknown places. Who knows when the last time a human actually swam in these water holes. I'm always on the lookout for these. I'm sure many that have been to Niko would rather go there than a place like this. However, Niko is too easy to access. I like some difficulty and secrecy with my waterfalls if I'm going to go swimming.

Walk of Faith

In the middle of my boulder hopping I came upon two very old bridges linked by one huge rock. I'm sure they were safe to cross but from the look of it I didn't want to try. It wasn't so surprising to see that someone had built this in such a place. After all there were signs of human activity along the valley from various tubing and pipes coming and going from unknown directions. These siphon off water for irrigation and such. It's fairly common to see black PVC tubing running along streams in the countryside for this purpose. Now that I got back home, though, I wonder where the western path from the bridge went. That picture is looking east and went back up the valley to the forestry road. The western direction had a path that went up into the hills. There is no telling what might be up that route. Gardens of produce from lost Eden, treasure, monkey experiments gone horribly wrong, a crazy old man thinking he will live forever.

The Pecrarious Path

As it was mentioned earlier, traversing valleys can lead to situations where one can no longer hop boulders to get to the next level so to speak. Maybe you can infer why I said "some hoping" in my blog post title. I was hoping not to reach a dead end. I came close to it though. There was literally nowhere to go to get up a narrow elevation change. A small ledge rested to my right and looked far too tight to be of any good. But not wanting to cut my hike short and hike through the hillsides I inched up to the ledge, got down on my hands and knees, and began to fell my way along. At one point I thought to leave my bag behind as it was getting in the way. I felt very vulnerable on this ledge. It was mossy and somewhat steep off the sides. It was the one time during the day (and a few minutes prior when I almost slipped trying to build a bridge of stones) that I felt a surge of adrenaline from my body asking itself why I was putting myself in danger. In the picture to the left you can see the ledge. This was looking back after having made it by safely and down to another rock. I then took this picture and thought, "All in a days work of Blaine hiking."

Upper Water Hole

Several minutes later I came to what was really a dead end. Not only was it impossible to get up the sides of this little cascade, there was a dam sitting 100 feet behind it. This was another pretty deep water hole. I would like to have a very warm day to leisurely walk and hop up the valley exploring the three or four water holes. This would require swimming in each of them. In fact this dead end seemed kind of nice because it was open with rocks you could sun bathe on. Not that I want to tan but after a cold dip in the mountain water hot rocks in the warm sun do wonders.

I reckon I explored less than 1/4 of the valley today. I'll be back to see what lies on the other side of the dam (just a large wall that retains rain during strong storms). Can I hope for a natural water slide somewhere? Yes I can.

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