Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

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BrianEdwards
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Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by BrianEdwards » December 1st, 2012, 5:58 pm

Set out today to document both of the big falls on Idiot Creek in the coast range. Seeing that it rained over an inch last night, I figured the streams would be raging and provide some good entertainment. There also seemed to have been some interest in these waterfalls, as I've gotten a couple PM's about em. Time to check 'em out!

Around 11 am, I got to the spot on Idiot Creek Road that I had selected to park at, based on Google Earth. It looked like it would have good routes to both falls.

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From the car, I started descending the ridge towards the falls on the right, which is on a tributary of Idiot Creek. I'd been told it was taller, and the ridge near where I parked was pointed straight towards it.

The going was ok to start, but very quickly got ugly. I think it was the 'December Storm' a few years ago that wiped out so much of the forests in the coast range. Huge swaths of trees were all uprooted and pointing in the same direction. Here's a view of some of the bushwacking conditions

Absolutely nasty!! I don't recommend going down in this canyon if you don't absolutely crave adventure or waterfalls.

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As I was descending through the muck, I suddenly was presented with a view of the falls way out across the vast canyon. It was gonna be a long day :| You can see the confluence of both creeks a bit in the bottom of the image.

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After what seemed like an hour just to descend 650 ft of elevation, I was at Idiot Creek, just above the confluence of the side stream with the big falls. You can see more of the log congestion that I'd been fighting since about 100 ft from the car.

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I got down to the creek, crossed on the sturdiest log I could, and headed up the side stream. I had in my mind that it wasn't very far up the tributary to the waterfall.... Wrong! Maybe it was the maze of logs, or the fact that the creek zigzags in the little canyon it's in, forcing me to cross it several times to find hikeable ground.

Finally I rounded a corner in the creek, and the big idiot revealed itself

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The falls were raging in the little cliffed-in canyon.

There were plenty of trees in the way of a clean view, but I did manage to get closer and scrounge around to come up with this one right in the spray zone. It's atleast 90 ft tall, at most 110' ft. The sheer width of it, along with the iPhone 4s Camera makes it look shorter. If I had someone standing by it, they'd be very small. I think they call this 'foreshortening.'

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Video, select 720p for better clarity



I sat awhile admiring the display of nature that the falls were. If it weren't for the terrible conditions getting to it, I'd say it was one of the better one's I'd been too. Definitely one of the taller and mightier ones.

After getting my fill, I headed back down the log-choked creek towards the confluence. I decided that I would stay on this side of the main Idiot Creek, and see if I could shortcut around the ridge to the other big falls. This turned out to be a great idea, as once I reached the confluence, I found a major game trail that headed up the creek. It lasted a good 300 ft, which was the easiest walking I'd done all day. Soon enough though, reality came crashing back and the log maze began in earnest.

I didn't take any photos through here, but I did keep the creek in my view to see if there were any other drops. Every now and then a game trail would reveal itself, but then promptly end at another tangle of trees. Whatever storm dropped all these trees must've been one for the ages.

Finally I rounded a sharp bend in the creek, and spied a decent tributary across the way. I was pretty sure that was the creek that met Idiot Creek just downstream of the main Idiot Creek Falls. It didn't have any waterfalls on it, just a series of small cascades through the tangle of logs.

Just ahead, I could begin to see falling water through the trees. It was pretty thick so I hiked a bit further before snapping a pic

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It appeared that the only clean view was gonna be across the creek and up on the hill, right in the spray zone again. Yep, as I got closer, that indeed was the case. All-well, the spray felt amazing. All the sidehilling over and under logs had really got me heated up under my rain gear.

I scrambled around in the spray and found this view. This Idiot was around 100 ft as well.

I was close enough to the falls that shooting a landscape shot on the iPhone was not gonna work. So I decided to give the 'panoramic' mode a try. Turns out it's my new favorite feature of iOS6!

Here's the 'panoramic' view with the top and bottom edges cropped off

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For comparison, here's a portrait shot with the standard iPhone camera. It's a bit sharper, but using the panoramic mode lets you include more in the shot.

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video, 720p option



At this point, I was pretty wiped, and NOT looking forward to the climb out. Plus, with all the persistent rimrocks and cliffs I had been seeing above, I didn't know just how I'd be getting out.

The cliffs from Idiot Creek Falls extend down both sides of the canyon to the bend with the small tributary I mentioned earlier. It was at that little tributary that I could finally start gaining elevation. Looking at the map, the road goes away from the little creek a ways, so climbing up it was not in my best interest, plus it would have been going the exact opposite way from my car. So I crossed it and headed downstream on the main creek.

I'd only gotten 200 ft downstream when I encountered a cliff in the forest that would have forced me to lose the 100 ft or so of elevation I had gained so far. I really did not want to do that. Gaining any elevation in the thick brush and tangle of downed trees was almost an art. But, looking up the right side of this cliff, it looked clean! So up I went to investigate. Soon I was going up, and up, and up. It was slow, but atleast it was clean! Turns out it was clean all the way, and I was able to ascend the full 650+ ft right along side that cliff that never relented til just below the road. Yes it was a clean path, but it's straight up! whew! back on the road and headed downhill to my car.

About the time I spied my car on the corner, I also caught a glimpse through the trees of both falls.

Main Idiot Creek Falls that I had just visited

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The other Idiot I had visited first

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Got back to my car @ 1:35pm. Just as it started to downpour. Perfect timing!

All in all a successful outing, thanks for looking!
Last edited by BrianEdwards on December 1st, 2012, 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.

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Guy
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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by Guy » December 1st, 2012, 6:19 pm

Great report Brian, thanks...

I'm not sure I like waterfalls enough to do that myself :) ..
hiking log & photos.
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mayhem
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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by mayhem » December 1st, 2012, 6:43 pm

Super Duper Bammola!!

Thanks for doing the hard work & giving an Epic TR.
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BrianEdwards
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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by BrianEdwards » December 1st, 2012, 7:06 pm

Thanks Guy, I agree with your statement. If someone else had thoroughly documented them already, I would not have ever gone down there :)

Mayhem: Ask and you shall receive. :P You're actually the person that informed me of them in the first place, last spring.
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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by Crusak » December 1st, 2012, 8:22 pm

yowza, super effort for some super pictures! What a scramble Brian. Thanks for sharing, those falls are amazing.
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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by Peder » December 1st, 2012, 8:33 pm

Guy wrote:Great report Brian, thanks...

I'm not sure I like waterfalls enough to do that myself :) ..
I was going to say the same thing as Guy. I admire your persistence to get through all those downed trees. Thank you for a very interesting TR; that is some hard-core bushwhacking you did!
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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by Sore Feet » December 1st, 2012, 10:55 pm

Awesome effort. Both those falls look a hell of a lot better with that much water. But man that canyon is a mess and I'm not sure I'm going to want to deal with that any time soon. :shock:

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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by BrianEdwards » December 1st, 2012, 10:59 pm

Thanks Bryan. Ya, it pretty much sucked except for the waterfalls :)
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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by Sean Thomas » December 1st, 2012, 11:37 pm

This is as epic as epic can get, Brian. Thank you a million times for taking such nice pictures of the falls many of us have been wondering about for years and for sharing your adventure.


Now I am even more chicken to go in there looking for them after reading your report. :D

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Re: Idiot Creek Falls, & the other big Idiot 12/1

Post by BrianEdwards » December 2nd, 2012, 12:06 am

Crusak wrote:yowza, super effort for some super pictures! What a scramble Brian. Thanks for sharing, those falls are amazing.
Thanks Cru, I guess this is pretty much by your main hiking area! I hadn't ever stopped on hwy 6 or payed attention to the hills or hikes, but I see now why its so popular here on PH 's. The area around Elk Creek is awesome if you're on a trail.
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