Sunday, October 13, 2019

Week Two of #INKtober 2019

My Medieval Bestiary creatures are still bringing smiles as I pick and choose what to draw. I found myself a little short on time the first part of the week so was looking for relatively easy images that could be quickly sketched and not slow me down with a lot of detail and colors. Everything on this page was done with a fountain pen containing a dark brown ink. What little color I used was from a brush pen. This grouping is also a reminder that not all medieval illuminated manuscripts were religious, so not all of these creatures have those kinds of links. The porcupine, for instance (and not to be confused with the hedgehog which does show up in the Bible), was most likely included in illuminations (and quite realistically) because it was common in Italy and often included in princely and royal menageries which could provide living models for artists. Marco Polo also describes a porcupine hunt while on his travels. Because of the way porcupines would roll into a ball, leaving attackers with quills lodged in them, Louis XII of France took them as his symbol with the motto "He who touches me pricks himself." The image of the porcupine became oft used on many objects commissioned by the King.

Dogs like the one I chose also seem quite common in this period, a slender greyhound involved in a hunt. The text notes that in general "[dogs] accompanied humans everywhere, keeping them company, guaranteeing their security, and assisting in every kind of hunt . . . Illuminated manuscripts offer ample testimony of this omnipresence, for they are teeming with dogs." In fact, there were different breeds for different kinds of hunts just like today, and the greyhound with its speed was best at fatiguing the prey during the royal hunt. Mine was in the midst of a bird hunt.

The crane, it turns out, held the same appeal for middle ages illuminators as this one did for me: its grace and elegance. They were domesticated in the 13th & 14th centuries to be used to embellish gardens, much like the peacock. Illuminators regularly used crane motifs to decorate initials and in the margins of manuscripts. Any symbolism attached to the crane is usually positive, commonly the quality of vigilance as exhibited by their habit of having a lookout at night that holds a stone in an upraised foot which wakes it up with the noise of its fall if it dozes off. This behavior was also incorporated into a religious allegory with Christ as the stone and the mind as the foot. It gets quite complicated as these often do during this time period. These birds were also regularly used "to symbolize the regular monks and nuns who lived by the precepts of precise order . . . because cranes were observed to fly in formation" and the crane at the head of the v formation "offered a perfect image for the heads of religious communities who encouraged the other members under their authority by their example and their preaching." There's much more about cranes in legends and fables which can be found in this Wikipedia entry. They were one popular bird throughout history.

As for this unicorn, how adorable is he? It looks nothing like how I usually have seen mythical unicorns depicted, short of that horn. Almost more of a sheep than a horse which is usually the basis of a unicorn. This one shows up in the illumination of the Parable of the Unicorn and the Two Rats where the unicorn is actually a bad actor representing "the figure of death, who pursues man ceaselessly and longs to take him." Well, not so adorable after all! The more well known symbolism for the unicorn is just the opposite: purity and grace. The biblical allegory includes a virgin as Mary and the unicorn as Christ and is all sweetness and light.


Towards the end of the week I had a little more time to devote to each sketch and chose these that fit the same color scheme. Still using the brown ink fountain pen, these are additionally highlighted with brush pens in sepia, blue and light grey and the occasional micron pigma pen. The last one also has white gel pen on the tail. I'm obviously drawn to quirkiness and that particular Ibex struck me as quirky indeed. In fact, the text says that it is usually depicted similarly to real-world ibexes, head down with horns digging into the ground, unlike mine. The Ibex was thought to be able to break a fall with those powerful horns as well as run them through any human threat, and that it preferred altitude, climbing so high that they become invisible to the human eye. The bestiaries interpreted the ibex as "a figure for enlightened Christians capable of blending the two biblical Testaments into a salutary harmony with which to overcome adversity" while our friend Rabanus Maurus makes it "an image of the salvation of the flesh through the teaching of the two Testaments." Okay . . . not sure I see that but apparently it was the common understanding.

The only thing quirky about the Nycticorax is that hooked beak which gives it a rather stern visage, and that name which I am totally unfamiliar with. Often grouped with owls because both are nocturnal and have similar attributes, the nycticorax is smaller and is not depicted with small ear-like protrusions in medieval imagery like the owl is. However, both owl and nycticorax, like most nocturnal animals, "did not enjoy a good reputation in the middle ages." The nycticorax became "interpreted as a figure for medieval Jews . . . [who] were reproached for having condemned Christ despite his having come to save them, and thus for preferring darkness to the light of the Savior, who then turned toward gentiles." No wonder mine looks so grumpy with people thinking THAT about it! However, if one is drawn with a mouse in its beak, that represents a faction that viewed it positively for its ability to clear barns of rodents. 

Lastly, if you had asked me if I planned to sketch any serpents, I'm sure I would have said no. I have an aversion to snakes of any kind, even if only in a photo, and to me, a serpent is a snake. But here I was looking at a double page spread containing the weirdest legged creatures, the one I chose being the least weird of them, and almost as adorable as that unicorn. It was indeed a surprise to read the caption and discover these were serpents! The text confirmed why the majority of the serpents looked so nasty and weird, stating that "the serpent was one of the most widespread symbols of evil in medieval iconography" pointing back to the Genesis story of Adam and Eve. But since that story doesn't give much of a description, a generic form derived from Greco-Roman mythology ended up in these bestiaries. Generally speaking, serpents had a body of a reptile, the paws of a lion (although usually two rather than four), the head of a dog or a wild animal, and often but not always, leathery or feathered wings, this last one giving us what we think of as dragons (which are related but separate). My serpent sure fits the description sans the wings. I was wondering what the deal was with those fat feet!

As always, clicking on the photos will provide a larger view to study.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Week One of #INKtober 2019

I am having great fun with my Medieval Bestiaries. These three are in the heavily illuminated borders of the opening page to the Gospel According To John in a mid-1400 "Book of Hours". The things that made their way into manuscript borders often show an irreverence towards organized religion, or at least the ordained leaders thereof, as in this pig in ecclesiastical vestments. Also, all these mythical creatures and others we find there, we moderns wouldn't think to have connections to religious traditions, yet here they are. The opening chapter to The Grand Medieval Bestiaries reminds us of the forces influencing common life back in those days: 

"The cultures and ideas of the Middle Ages were profoundly marked by bodies of thought issuing from the confrontation of Christianity with the legacy of the ancient world, preeminently a symbolic system according to which the visible world was merely an expression of the realm of the invisible. But these same centuries were also characterized by a passionate and unpredictable attentiveness to the world, and by impulses to invention, poetry, and creation that were sufficiently strong to prevail over rigid theories and dogmas."

It goes on to note that "Medieval images are often polysemic; they can have several meanings, and depictions of a single animal can signify very different things." Cross over into the religious realm, and the meaning gets tied to a bible passage which can give them a totally different symbolism. Or, as indicated in other sources I've read, the illustrator may merely be having fun or sneaking in his or her own slant.


It's always been interesting to me how early Christianity found ways to fold pagan beliefs into its teachings. Take the halcyon, a mythical animal that may or may not correspond to a real animal. Its legend dates back to classical antiquity and the Greek gods, part of which says it lays its eggs directly on the sea, at which point the sea remains perfectly calm until the eggs hatch in 14 days. Sailors referred to this period as the "halcyon days", an expression still used today to to describe an idyllic, peaceful and even prosperous time in the past that is remembered as better than today. Its Christian symbolism ties this period of grace to God's love for "even the least significant of his creatures", making it a symbol of hope and faith.

The Caladrius is also a bird of legend, showing up in a list of unclean birds in the Old Testament while the ancient Greeks and Romans again weave a tale of a bird that can absorb sickness (and thus heal) before "flying away toward the sun which burned away the illness". But if the bird turned away from the patient, he or she would surely die. Fast forward to our medieval bishops and the bird now, partly because of its whiteness "denotes Christ, who came to earth to save humanity." It wasn't a great leap to tie the healing powers of the mythical bird to the Christ who bore our sins. The Caladrius is not always portrayed as duck-like as in this rendering, but this version rather tickled my funny bone.

Now for the giraffe. First let me say that the rest of the sketches went rather easily, but the giraffe, which I THOUGHT would be a breeze, tripped me up. I shortened the body several times but I think it is still longer than the one in the book. Just several things off and I'm tempted to try again. But not any time soon - must move on to the next bestiary. As to why a giraffe would show up in 15th century manuscripts since knowledge of this animal was rare and often described by "authors of fantastic narratives and accounts of wonders," perhaps that was reason enough to slip one in here and there. As for a religious connection, giraffes do show up in the Old Testament and one Rabanus Maurus offered up a moral interpretation of this animal, often described as having the head of a camel, the neck of a horse, the hooves of an ox and the spots of a leopard: that its hybrid character and spotted skin "could be likened to the multitude of human vices, which ultimately leave their mark on those who surrender to them." But apparently, moralizing and illustrations of the giraffe remained quite rare.

No doubt,  more than you wanted to know about these creatures, but I find learning about them as I draw just one more perk of the process.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

#INKtober2019 Has Begun

For months I've been considering what thing I would concentrate on during this year's INKtober, a world-wide yearly challenge to get out your pens a draw something each day in the month of October. I considered drawing the unusual trees in a book that was given to me, or maybe focus on the photos in another book I had on hand that showed stone walls in Ireland. I looked at the official INKtober prompts and was uninspired. It was pretty much by accident that I recently found this book at the library, too big and too heavy to shelve upright so was lying out flat on a shelf next to a section of books I was scanning. I flipped through a few pages and thought, yes, sketching from these pages of old manuscripts with their quirky animals was what I wanted  to work with this month.


I couldn't believe it wasn't a reference book, but one I could check out and bring home. It's so heavy I nearly needed help getting it out to the car. My bathroom scale says it's a hefty thirteen and a half pounds. Over the weekend I went through every page and marked those that caught my interest. More than thirty-one it turns out so we shall see what wins out.

Click on the photo for a larger view

Here is what I sketched on this the first day of INKtober (and yes, it took my usual hour, not a quick sketch as I did an undersketch in pencil before tackling details in pen). It is from a Book of Hours from the mid-1400's and is the cover page leading to the book of John. There are several animals I could sketch from this one page but chose the bear and the hippogriff squaring off. I tell you, these manuscript embellishers had quite the sense of humor.

Honestly, I didn't know what that animal was on the left and scanned the text to find out. I still didn't know what it was after it told me. I don't think I've heard of a hippogriff before but according to Merriam-Webster and other sources, it is "a legendary animal having the foreparts of a griffin and the body of a horse." I'm not seeing wings on this one but that does explain the bird's head with beak and the horse reference explains what's going on in the back part. I'm hoping to learn much more as I go through this book and sketch away.

Monday, September 30, 2019

September Sketching


There's no shortage of sketching prompts available on the internet, often monthly lists to help you keep up with a daily sketching habit. Both Sketchbook Skool and Doodlewash (from my Sketchbook Revival course) send me these now. I scan the words and for the most part, don't see that many that I would want to spend my time drawing. Sometimes the list looks interesting and I print it out, only to let it get buried and go unused. For some reason, I decided not to let that happen with Doodlewash's September prompt list, deciding to use a sketchbook my cousin sent me because although I love the leather cover it is slipped into, I don't like the moleskin paper at all and so have not used it but twice. Very thin and even light pencil shows through to the backside and from the next page. But good enough for this.


I set up some rules for myself, kind of combining the Doodlewash practice (draw in pen then add color a little like making your own coloring book) with the Random Words doodling practice (doodle in pen on a post-it note for 10 to 15 minutes then stop). I'd work small and quickly in pencil, only adding colored pencil if so inspired, nothing fancy, and draw from memory.


That last one kept my sessions short - a few minutes to 15 at the most. Put a thing in front of me, even just a picture to draw from, and it turns into an hour long session of getting everything right and including all the details. I decided I'd been doing enough drawing the last few years that surely I could envision these things on the list clearly enough to do a simple sketch of them. Cups, shoes, I'd drawn 31 of each during Inktober months. I'd learned how to draw a dog in profile from one of the Sketchbook Revival teachers. Time to test the memory.


And test it I did. Sometimes the simple sketches came easily. Other times I was surprised at how difficult it was to remember enough about a thing to draw it recognizably. "Skin" and "buttons" on the page above were more challenging than I expected. Stairs too although I'd been playing with them in my water series sketchbook.


There were times when I couldn't quite get a part of a thing right like the railing on the one set of stairs. I knew it wasn't right but I didn't know how to change it to make it right. I might look at it later and see immediately how to fix it. But that wasn't part of the rules, going back and correcting. It was enough that my brain had worked on the problem without me and now knew what to do about it, stored away for next time.


I stayed really basic with drawing the prompt only, not building a story around it like some response to a quilt challenge theme (as I saw Mr. Doodlewash doing). But I did often sketch multiple ways to portray it, or different images when one word represented more than one thing. Pots like the ones used for cooking followed by a terracotta garden pot, multiple kinds of vegetables. Soap in different shaped bars, and then soap all bubbly. Human eyes, eye of a needle, eye-bolt. It can be fun to play with the English language.


Even these rules and tricks would have failed, though, if not for perhaps the most important thing I did, and quite by accident. I put the sketchbook on the futon couch in my office which made it the first thing I saw when I entered that room in the morning to check my mail on the computer. It stopped me up short, reminded me I had a sketch to do, and because I knew it would only take a few minutes, I sat right down and did my sketch before turning on the computer. Out of sight, out of mind; in your face, more difficult to ignore.

This is one daily habit I would continue if it were not for Inktober starting tomorrow. I have a whole different idea for daily sketching the Inktober way and it won't be quick. But I am looking forward to working with the theme I've chosen. Then I hope to remember this sketchbook and return to filling it with simple daily sketches.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Company and The Weather

Untitled original textile art by Judi Kane 21 x 23 framed
More good reasons to wrap up my outdoor explorations when I did: I was expecting overnight guests the following week, and if you saw my "sit and rotate" drawing of my office/guest room, you would know I had some digging out and cleaning to do before they arrived. My company was my late friend Judi's brother and his wife, and they came bearing a gift of one of Judi's art pieces. I was stunned and so appreciative as I only have one other piece of hers.


I thought I hadn't seen this work before but as I was going back through my blog posts to check, I found that it is one that was displayed at her memorial service. The background is one of her hand-dyed cottons, and I'm still studying how she did some of it. She used a lot of ultrasuede in her work and I see some of that here, but I have no idea what that white fuzzy stuff is.


And here she's used some kind of non-cotton shiny fabric, perhaps a brocade, which is texturized to create the flower blossom. She was always heading over to the prom and bridal departments of big fabric stores for unusual fabrics to create just the right effect on her art quilts. Ditto for embellishments and decorative threads and yarns.

Had my company planned their trip a week later, they might have been caught out by an early winter storm as they made their way out of Idaho and along the Rockies to Wyoming and parts further east. Snow at the end of October is not that unusual but at the end of September? That is very rare. The first emergency warnings I got was about high winds starting up about 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning and lasting all day. Later they added:

EARLY SEASON MOUNTAIN SNOW AND STRONG WINDS THIS WEEKEND... .A cold storm system will bring the potential for heavy snow in the mountains this weekend. The most significant accumulations will occur above 3000 feet, however snow levels will lower to valley floors by Saturday morning with accumulating valley snow expected overnight Saturday. Strong northeast winds will also impact the Idaho Panhandle and Northeast Mountains resulting in some tree damage and low wind chills. Backcountry recreationists and hunters should be prepared for cold and wet weather conditions and bring proper gear. Travel across backcountry roads may be difficult at times. ...


Now, I wasn't going into the backcountry per se on my trips to waterfalls but some of the trailheads WERE above 3000 feet so yeah, good thing my hiking is done for the year. I did wake up Saturday to this view out my upstairs window and a short spate of flurries that with the gusty winds didn't really reach the ground. Where the snow stops on the mountain across from me is indeed at about 3000 feet elevation. My thermometer on the back deck registered about 38 degrees and pretty much stayed there all day.


Hidden by the clouds in this photo is Schweitzer Ski Resort, who I am sure was happy to get the early snow. Besides the winds which continued into today, nothing much to write home about here as my "valley floor" did not get any accumulations last night, but less than an hour south of here I've seen pictures of places that got up to 10 inches of snow today, and they are not up in the mountains. Even the nearby Washington city of Spokane registered nearly 2 inches at the airport yesterday. I'm more and more switching mental gears to match this wintry weather! Hot chocolate anyone?

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Bonus Waterfall From the Grouse Creek Falls Week

Photo from Facebook Page North Idaho Waterfalls - The Complete Guide. Looks inviting, doesn't it?
When I planned my road trip to Grouse Creek Falls, I decided to include a quick detour to Rapid Lightning Creek Falls on my way home since my information said it was a mere 3.4 miles up a paved road I'd be passing by, and I thought everything else about this day was going to be quick. Even though that did not turn out to be the case, I still decided to turn up that road and see what I could see. Because although sketchy, everything I could find about Rapid Lightning Creek Falls indicated that it was "easily accessible" by following "one of the short, well-worn trails" at the unmarked turnout. I studied a google earth map which confirmed that the creek ran close to the paved road so those trails indeed had to be short and, I envisioned, probably fairly flat. So make no mistake about it, this was not going to be a long drive on dirt roads into an area where no one lived (a surprising number of people live up this road), nor was it going to be a hike. I'd just be walking in a short ways to view some falls.

The short road by the turnout, where the trails drop down from, sans car.

I drove and drove and lost track of my mileage as I took in the scenery and finally decided I must have driven past the turnout so pulled into the next one I saw so I could head back down the road. I could now see a narrow road hidden from the main road but with a car parked down it and decided someone must have a house down there so this isn't the place. I traversed the road back to where I'd turned onto it, seeing nothing that looked right, and being stubborn, I turned around and headed back up it, keeping a better watch on my mileage. It led me right back to that place where I had given up and turned back. Ok, get out of the car and see what you can see.


What I could see was the creek far below, several very steep trails heading down the steep hillside, and two guys belonging to the car sitting on these foundations, enjoying the view of the creek below. This foundation for some kind of small building long gone sat at the top of yet another steep trail leading closer to the creek, and I could better see the water. 

Hard to see how steep this trail is, or to see the water in the shadows

"So this is it," I said to one of the men. "Yeah, it's really a nice stretch of the creek," he replied. "And this is the trail down," I commented. "That's really steep, but it looks like it would be worth it." He agreed. We shared what we'd been up to that day, that this was the end of it, and his "old man knees" and my "primitive trail hiked-out legs" weren't really up to scrambling down and then back up it. I kept staring down that incline, wondering if I could really do it, and finally said, "I'll give it a go, but not today." After all, it's about 15 minutes from home. I can come back another day.


But I'd been keeping an eagle eye on the upcoming weather which promised another weekend of rain and another drop in temperature. I didn't want to try those steep trails, no matter how short, when wet and muddy. I was running out of time, and although my thighs and the back of my upper arms were so sore the next day, I knew it was now or never (or at least next year). I made the short drive after lunch and slid my way down that trail by the foundation. As you can see from the above photo, it WAS a short trail but included a tipped smooth slab of rock that gave no traction before a sharp turn that completed the trail in a near vertical drop spilling onto a wide flat area above the creek. I practically slid on my backside to get down it, turned around and decided not to worry just yet about how I was getting back up.


Instead, I started taking in this stretch of the creek from the bottom up. Honestly, I'd be hard-pressed to call this a waterfall, but more a series of cascades that drop a total of 20 - 30 feet as they tumble over and through rock formations that form several pools suitable for dangling feet in or even swimming in this time of year. After its excursion and tumble over the last thing that could qualify as a waterfall, this is what the creek looks like before it continues around the bend. It's really not very big or deep.


Here's the first thing that might qualify as a falls as I worked my way up the creek. That drop can't be more than a few feet. (Clicking on any photo will give you a larger one to explore.) This is emptying out of the pool in the first photo at the top.


As you pivot to look upstream, this is what you see. Those "cascades" and huge slabs of tilted rock. The creek begins to drop down through this gorge in the upper left, about half way up the tree can be used as a guide.


Here's a slightly different angle on the middle cascade of the previous photo as it empties into the pool in the photo at the top. I suppose during high water this might read as a waterfall.


Same cascade looking straight across it. You can really see the geology of tilted rock slabs here.


As I made my way over a couple of the tilts of rock, I discovered they were hiding another pool, swirling and foamy.


As I walked closer to the edge, I could see where the water during higher times had created a deep hole in the rock, bottom of the photo.



I could also see how the water had shaped smooth curves as it swirled.


Looking farther up the creek, more little cascades.


And big mossy boulders I've come to expect.


These two shots I got once I climbed out and followed a bit of trail where I could see the creek as it nears the gorge . . .


. . . and where it begins to drop through it. Apparently, whitewater runners put in somewhere along here and run this bit of rapids when there's more water, and it is rated class 3 - 4. The site makes mention of "a nasty slot in the middle of it" and I could see exactly where that was.



Here's a pan from top to bottom of as much as I could get of the so-called Rapid Lightning Creek Falls. I have to say this reminds me a lot of the falls on the Yaak River in Montana, though the tilted rocks and amount of water in the river are much larger (you can see I few pictures about midway in this post.). I spent a lot of time around those falls on fishing trips with my parents when I lived at home. No wonder this small version was so appealing and held my interest.


Back to the creek side, I couldn't help getting a shot of this rock cliff across from me and those tilted slabs below it - again, typical scenery for this part of Idaho.


And a last look at the slabs on my side of the creek, wondering where I was going to find an alternate trail up. Way up in the left hand corner of the photo, where that tree root slithers out looked promising.


Look at how that root reaches over and beside that rock (near vertical) for purchase.


If I could just get up this first straight up and down part, there was actually some trail up there that while steep, looked to have good traction. No seriously, there's a trail there, up the middle, then veering to the left, not far at all. It's just getting to it.


I studied it for awhile and decided that if I could get my foot in that curve at the base of the tree where exposed root was, I could hoist myself up. I did, but my thigh muscles weren't happy about it. Definitely need to start doing more Warrior Poses!


And once up it, it was a very short walk back to the car.


I took over 75 photos and more than one video on this little stretch of creek This is probably my favorite shot, one I think of as "the beauty shot". This is probably my last road trip adventure this year as I've visited pretty much all the waterfalls I know of except those that are farther away than I want to drive at this point. The weather has definitely turned and the bears have come down out of the mountains for some last minute foraging before hibernating. Hunting seasons will open soon (some already have) and my experience in Wisconsin showed me that it was prudent to stay out of the woods until the hunters packed up and went home. And I'm tired, frankly. I've put my body to the test, have a better understanding of my limits, and have refreshed my mind and spirit. As John Burroughs says:

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."

Yup, done and done. I'm feeling ready to switch focus. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Last Week's Waterfall

When I headed out last Wednesday for another hike, it had rained over the weekend and the temperature had gone from the mid-80's of the previous week's hike, to a cooler but still comfortable mid-70's. Time to pack a sweatshirt cardigan just in case, because I was headed to Grouse Creek Falls and had been warned that except at high noon, most everything would be in shade. I anticipated a short day since the trail head was closer than my previous road trips, less than 20 miles of mostly paved road that I was quite familiar with. It was only those last 5 miles that I hadn't been on before that slowed me way down as the road went from paved to gravel to washboardy and narrowed to dirt with huge potholes which meant it took nearly as long to get there as to the trailheads farther away. My directions were a bit sketchy - take a right and follow Grouse Creek Road for about 4 miles and take a right down an unmarked road - but another later site indicated that there might be a marker now. All of a sudden, there was a narrow one-lane road dropping off to the right and I spotted the marker partly obscured by bushes, just a square stick with "Grouse Falls" printed vertically on it - see the red arrow. Did I really want to drive down there for who knows how far? I got out of the car to inspect and decided to make my way down to the parking lot that supposedly awaited.


I did not have to go far for the road to open up into a very large parking area where sat a big motorhome. Ok then, I was being a bit wussy about the road in I guess. I chatted with a woman coming off the trail who assured me it was beautiful but a lot of up and down. My information said it was about half a mile to the falls so it shouldn't be too bad. As I headed out of the parking lot, I spotted hoofy prints - surely people aren't riding horses to the falls, but perhaps this trail hooked up to the one I'd seen that did accommodate horses?


I didn't go far until I noticed several horses, saddled and tied up back in the trees, no humans around. A puzzle . . .


This may be one of my favorite hikes. Unlike other trails I've been on, this one stays right along the creek which is seldom out of sight and never out of hearing. There may not be much water in the creek at this time of year, but you can see how big it must get with spring runoff, filling the creek bed all the way to the far treeline.


I've gotten use to wide and well maintained trails and this one started out that way. Soon it narrowed and led through a section nearly overgrown with grass, as if few people had been through.


Then this section which left me peering past a boulder field to see if the trail really did take up again on the other side. This was the place where I really appreciated my walking stick for balance as I worked my way across, remembering how my dad had taught me to traverse rock-strewn areas and reminding myself to be extra careful so as not to twist or break an ankle.


And there were several sections where springs crossed the trail, making for muddy going unless you could step from rock to rock. No boardwalks here. Click on the picture for a large view to see all the way down the wet trail.


As I was picking my way through I suddenly realized why those logs were there. Oh yeah, one can walk along those instead of down in the mud. Thankful for that walking stick again - don't do this kind of balancing walk anymore.


Making my way through another muddy section I was surprised to see these stairs in the steep hillside. They were deceiving though. To climb them was not unlike climbing a ladder and they were wet and slick. Still, a tiny bit better than climbing the bare hill itself.


So after all that primitive stretch of trail, it was a surprise and a bit of a relief to see the trail widen out into a sort of path I'd become used to. A little farther up, some trails looked to split off and lead down toward the creek, but not decisively so. I thought of my directions "when the trail starts to climb, take a right towards the water", but I wasn't sure I was there. I followed the main trail up a bit farther, far enough to see it was heading closer to the edge of the hillside than I wanted to go and maybe stopped altogether. I turned around and tried one of the trails heading down . . . 



The indistinct trails eventually merged to one leading up the creek and I was soon ready to cross over these boulders down into a lovely beach area. Well, almost, because I could hear voices, not just a couple but many, and somewhat raucous ones. I spotted a cowboy hat just poking up behind the rock before I saw the group and realized these were the people who had left those horses tied up at the beginning of the trail. I'd seen signs for a "guest ranch" and "Adventure Pony Rides" on my way up and these must be "dudes" from the dude ranch.


I beat a hasty retreat before any of them saw me and made my way to a spot by the creek, hidden by one of those big rocks. I am such an introvert! But viewing the creek and the falls was not an experience I had planned to share with distracting strangers, so I savored the stretch of creek before me while eavesdropping on their conversation and waiting for them to leave, which they soon did. You'll recognize familiar features: large boulders and cliff faces, trees hanging onto them for dear life, mosses, clear clear water.



I'm glad I waited them out. This is such a lovely spot and I'm sure this whole hike culminating in this cathedral of sorts was tapping into a lot of childhood memories. This looks to be a well-used area, with signs of a campfire and rocks rearranged in the creek to create pools for cooling your beverages or your feet.


But where are the falls, you may well ask? Well, I'd been warned that one could not see them because they were hidden around that big boulder. Bring your water shoes, it said. You'll have to get in the water to see around it to catch a glimpse of the falls. I'd not brought my water shoes, decided to gamble that maybe the creek would be low enough to expose some dry beach to stand on. I was wrong. So I had a little debate with myself. Are you brave enough to take off your shoes and socks and wade in? How cold is that water? A quick check proved it was not that cold.


So yeah, I'm gonna do it! Using the boulder for balance and ouch ouching my way along the pebbly creek bed, I didn't have to wade too deep and the water felt great!



And here's the prize! Click on the picture for a larger view because there's not much water and the falls actually comes in at an angle from the right, you can just see some water splashing up there before it turns and comes down towards you. All the same, I was thrilled.



And here's a video that zooms in so you can see better and hear that lovely racing water.



And as long as I was standing there in the creek, I continued a pan down it.


Still mesmerized by the crystal clear water and the sound. It conjured up a memory of camping trips, with my mother and I heading down to the creekside to sit, look, listen, sometimes break into song, as if we could be heard over the sometimes roar.


And fascinated by these rosy boulders and their cracks.


I suspect that if I'd followed that rising trail, it might have led to a place where one could look down on the falls, see it in its entirety. No doubt if one were nimble and willing to scramble up this steep face from the beach (and it looked like some had), you'd get a similar view. 


Not me, at least not today. I still had to pull myself up over these rocks and navigate that primitive trail back to the car. More of a challenge and took longer than I expected to snag this particular waterfall, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and this glorious day. This is one that would be worth coming back to . . . with water shoes!