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 Post subject: Whale Creek Falls + Barrier Falls (merged)
 Post Posted: October 10th, 2011, 12:53 am 
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Joined: February 2nd, 2010, 1:32 am
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Location: Oregon City, OR
Been awhile since I'd been out exploring, so I decided to re-find Barrier Falls on the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas River with a friend. It's located a mile or so downstream of Harriet Lake

When I went to pack my DSLR, I found that I had left it turned on by the computer, and the battery was dead, doh! So, it was gonna have to be an iPhone kind of day. Never-the-less it ended up successful.

After finding the pull-over on FR4630 that's straight up the hill from the falls, we set out down the steep canyon. First we had to cross the Harriet Dam pipeline.

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Climbing down the hill, there's a convenient game trail for part of it.

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Now for the big surprise. When we reached the river, I spied what looked like a metal wheel poking just above the water. Upon further inspection, it appeared to have a body attached to an axle, with another wheel buried under the rocks. We decided to dig it up. This ended up being an hour-long undertaking, as it had been there for quite some time. Once we got it un-buried, it was all me and my friend could do to move it over onto a rock, it easily weighted over 200 lbs. Here it is, it has a crank and a cylinder like it used to be a motor of some kind. I assume it was from the dam construction upstream. Any ideas what this is??

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After admiring the old relic, we headed downstream towards Barrier Falls. It was only about 800 feet away. Here's the view as we were approaching the brink.

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Here's looking over the cliff into the large/deep pool below.

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Here it is, Barrier Falls

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My friend for scale:

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Last one

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The falls were a beauty, with the autumn leaves and deep green water, a very peaceful sight. I could've stayed there all day, it was hard to leave.

But, there was still stuff on the agenda, so I took one last shot downriver before heading up the near-vertical slope back to the truck.

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Whale Creek

Whale Creek has been a facination of mine for a couple years. It looks too good on the topo to not have a waterfall or two of some sort along its path. The upper trailhead of the Clackamas River Trail is right next to Whale Creek, in fact the parking area is at the mouth of the steep canyon, which worked out perfect.

The hike begins on a user trail that is very beat in starting right from the parking lot, can't miss it. We hiked up this trail for a good 20 minutes before it began to fade. Then the real adventure began. The canyon narrows with cliffs on both sides, and there's a legendary amount of old growth trees laying on each other on the narrow canyon floor. Very slow going.

Here's the west-side headwall that towers over the creek.

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After almost an hour of trudging up the creek, we came to a 40-foot cascade. We almost bailed at this point cause the creek was getting nearly impassibly steep and wooded.

This is the top 10 feet of the cascade, right behind me is a very big drop off with water cascading down over boulders.
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My friend decided to peek around the corner, and got a glimpse of a waterfall. As we got closer, it was clear it was a nice one. It looked about 60-ft tall, with a 10+ ft tier tucked above.

The approach, I put an arrow on the upper tier.

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Whale Creek Falls

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Just above it is a nice channel in the basalt

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My friend for scale

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First attempt at a cell phone video in 720P







After that, we headed down. We decided to sidehill on the west side, at the bottom of the headwall, to avoid that creekbed. It ended up working out well that way. Along the bottom of the cliff, there were two caves. The deepest was 10-12 feet deep, and almost tall enough to stand in.

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Right at dark we made it back to the trailhead and the truck.

Here's some maps of Whale Creek. It looks like there's more falls upstream of the one we found.

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Thanks for looking
.

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Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.


Last edited by BrianEdwards on October 12th, 2011, 3:34 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + an old relic
 Post Posted: October 10th, 2011, 9:53 am 
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Barrier Falls is a beauty and that old relic is a cool find... Would be fun to learn what it is.

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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + an old relic
 Post Posted: October 10th, 2011, 11:48 am 
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That pool below Barrier Falls looks like a great swimmin hole!


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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + an old relic
 Post Posted: October 10th, 2011, 6:07 pm 
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Great report and awesome phone pics and almost unbelievable the next one will better! That wheel you found looks like an old flow control shutoff valve

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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + an old relic
 Post Posted: October 10th, 2011, 7:47 pm 
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Thanks all.

Mayhem, I think you're right about the valve. Those wheels would've been for turning with you're hands, and the gear on the side had a ratcheting piece equipped with a spring to hold it.

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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + an old relic
 Post Posted: October 10th, 2011, 8:39 pm 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
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Nice! We didnt end up checking out either of these on saturday. I'm kinda glad we didnt go to Barrier though, that one looks like it needs a real big rain and then it'll look pretty awesome.

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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + an old relic
 Post Posted: October 10th, 2011, 9:41 pm 
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Nice work, Brian! Good find on Whale Creek, too -- that's a nice falls!

The Oak Grove Fork is kinda sad for me, but someday it will flow again. PGE occasionally lets it flow -- there's a nice shot of it over here on Oregon Kayaking. Neat canyon.

Tom

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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + an old relic
 Post Posted: October 10th, 2011, 10:11 pm 
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Ya Jamey, spring melt may be the best time for Barrier.

Tom, I hear ya. A big reason I decided to go to Barrier, was the USGS streamflow gauge on the Oak Grove Fork above Harriet Lake was showing the river at over 90% full. When we crossed the road bridge upstream of the lake, the river was up to the high water line, lots of water! But as you can see, the dam diverts it all away.

Acording to the USGS site, the river above the dam is flowing at 382 CFS, the river 7 miles below the dam is showing 17 CFS, and that includes all the tributaries for 7 miles. This tells me the dam is shutting off nearly 100% of the flow.

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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + an old relic
 Post Posted: October 11th, 2011, 11:53 pm 
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Well today, 10/11, I headed back out to Whale Creek to see if I could find any other falls upstream. I knew the stream-bed was nearly impossible to follow, so I decided to climb up the spine of the western ridge to gain elevation that way. There were lots of views along the way. I used my phone for most of these, as I was trying to make good time

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Further up, it became clear that there wasn't gonna be a way to get into the basin from the ridge. In fact the whole upper basin turned out to be cliffed in on all sides, no access without a rope. But, since I had already gained 800+ ft before I discovered this, I decided to keep climbing to see what was up further.

Another view, looking back at the highway

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After some more climbing, I spied a waterfall in the canyon. I finally took the camera out of the bag on this one

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Looks like a nice one

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Too bad there's no way to get to it, it looks pretty good

Further up, there was another falls.

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Judging by the wet cliff below, it looks pretty tall

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Ahead was a viewpoint

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Further up, I finally reached the top, the view was good.

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After 2.5 hours and 2100' of elevation later, I was at the road.

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From here, I followed it around to the main channel, then started bushwacking downstream. The area was logged a number of years ago, and the going was very slow. Finally, about the time I reached a tributary, the brush cleared and there was a small 13' footer to take a break by.

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This ended up being my last shot, as I continued on, the creek flowed into a narrow slot canyon, then plunged over that top falls. Well, every effort I made to find a way down turned up nothing, just cliffs. I finally decided to cross the ridge and look for a better way down. Once on the other side, same deal - cliffs. After more eastward hiking, I found a gully that was clean enough, and slid down. There ended up being cliff-band after cliff-band over there, and each one presented it's own special circumstance. In the end, I made it to the road 1.5 hours after dark. I think I've seen all there is to see of Whale Creek.

Here's a map of my path. I think I read a report earlier this year from Pablo that involved climbing up Whale Creek ridge, then descending nearby Cat Creek. I'd love to hear his take on the area

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Thanks for looking

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Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.


Last edited by BrianEdwards on October 12th, 2011, 12:22 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Barrier Falls, Whale Creek Falls, + relic (revisited 10/
 Post Posted: October 12th, 2011, 7:41 am 
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That topography in there looks treacherous. Nice work getting around it all, those two waterfalls in there look beautiful.

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