Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + Full Pup Creek Descent

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BrianEdwards
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Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by BrianEdwards » March 22nd, 2010, 11:48 pm

Welcome again fellow hikers, today I set out on another adventure in search of waterfalls up in the upper Clackamas drainage. I ended up finding way more than I would've ever imagined.

First hike on the agenda was a trip up the old Calico Creek Rd along Fish Creek. Google Earth showed two spots up here that most certainly held some gems. Got to the birmed off junction of Calico bright and early and headed out. The hiking here was relatively easy.

After a mile or more, I crossed First Creek, and just ahead was a spur road that climbed up into the hills. I took this spur and headed up. As I got further up the road, the views became ever more scenic.
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Another
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More
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When I got to where the spur turned and headed north for the last time, I bailed off into Second Creek and headed upstream. The falls I was seeking was on the south fork of the creek, one ridge over. But when I got to the bottom of the first deep canyon, I could hear a waterfall somewhere near me. This was great because it wasn't on my list! I turned upstream and in no time a 30-footer came into view.
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Closer
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After getting my fill of this falls I headed up the other side of the creek, crossed the ridge and bailed off down into the next steep canyon. The entire way down thru the thick brush, I could hear rushing water. When I reached the creek, I was greeted by a multi-tier chute-type formation in the creek.
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Just upstream was a large cliff formation, I headed up to it and in no time another falls came into view. This one was around 80+ ft tall counting all the tiers of it.
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Another view.
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This falls was about where I had one labled on my list, so I turned around and headed back to the road. Turns out it wasn't the one as I would soon find out. When I got back to the road, I looked back into the large canyon one more time, but I suddenly noticed another falls. The one I was seeing was the one on the list. It must be 100+ ft tall, but it was way back up the canyon that I had just climbed out of. I had too much on the agenda today to go after it. I'll be back for it another day.

Look closely and you can see the top of the waterfall plunging off the cliff above the trees.
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I continued up the spur road towards the head of First Creek. Here's the old road.
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Another View
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Upon arriving at First Creek, I bailed off down into it and followed it down to where I had potentially marked a falls. The creek definitely looses elevation but this 20 footer was the best falls on the whole creek.
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Upon reaching Calico Creek Rd again, I took a right and headed back to the trailhead.

Now it was time to get ready for part two of the day, a full descent of Pup Creek from headwaters to the Clackamas. I had trailered a vehicle up with me so that I could do this shuttle hike solo. I drove the mile back down to the Clackamas River Trailhead, unloaded the car and took off up the road. Part of the road traverses Rimrock Creek Canyon. Halfway up was a small gorge/falls.
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After 5+ miles up the road, I found the junction on my map that I had labeled as the start of Pup Creek. I suited up and headed out. I found the trickle of the creek and bushwacked down. In no time the creek started growing. In just a short while the creek was beginning to roar. Here's a typical spot on upper Pup Creek.
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I came to the lower road, crossed it and kept going. The bushwacking here was relatively easy to start out, as long as I stayed near the creek. eventually a large creek entered from the left and made the stream into a torrent. Just down from this confluence was the first drop of any real size, an 8 footer or so.
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Now, just down stream I could see a horizon line in the creek, I got up to it and realized I was at a waterfall. This one was about 25 ft tall.
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Continuing downstream maybe 15 minutes and I came to another large horizon, this one even bigger. This waterfall was about 40 ft tall.
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Just downstream of this I could see another horizon line. Came to another 40 ft falls.
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In not too long, again, I could see another large horizon, this one was the biggest yet. As I got close, the noise was impressive. This one was over 65 ft tall.
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A ways downstream, I came to another falls. This one was atleast 80 ft tall.

Here's the 80+ footer.
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Another angle
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Man there was alot of falls on this creek. Anyway I kept going down the steep creek. At every falls so far I had scrambled down the east side (right side) of the creek. The west side of every falls was totally cliffed out. A ways down the creek I came to another horizon/cliff that dropped into a very narrow cut in the basalt. I had to climb way up the east side and hike out the ridge to find a way down from this one. But once I got to the bottom I headed back up towards the falls. These were only maybe 20 ft at best.
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Now from here it was close to an hour of bushwacking downstream with no other falls worth mention. The lower in elevation I got, the thicker the brush became. Here's a view of a relatively clear spot in the creek.
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After what seemed like eternity, I came to a giant horizon that I could see the other side of the Clackamas River from, that meant only one thing, I was at Pup Creek Falls. Here's a view from the top.
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Now, how was I gonna get DOWN from HERE? The west side was totally cliffed out, so I had no other choice but to climb up the east ridge a ways and walked the top of the cliff. Suprisingly, in no time A large gully appeared and was clean all the way to the creek. Halfway down the gully was a bench in the cliff that I decided to sidehill towards the falls on. Just around the bend and the falls came into view.
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I continued down the hill til I got to the creek and headed up to a cool looking log bench on the trail. Here's the typical Pup Creek shot we're all acustomed to.
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At this point I was exhausted and totally soaked, but I still had 4+ miles to go. It had been showering off and on all day which made for wet bushwacking. After admiring Pup Creek Falls, I headed down the trail. Man was it sure nice to walk on a trail again! I reached the main trail and took a left. I had one more falls on the agenda. A little ways further I reached the creek with stepping stones in it.
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Splintercat Tom had let me know of a falls up this creek. I headed up, and in just a little bit I could see the falls way up the log-choked creek.
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This would be the closest I would get. These falls were around 70 ft tall.
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From here I had only an hour of daylight left and 3+ miles to go so I hoofed it along the beautiful trail back to Fish Creek Road. Along the way I passed many more falls, but Tom had illustrated all of these with some great shots that he posted in a reply on my latest Memaloose post. Right as dusk was appearing I made it to the road.

The home stretch
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What a day of waterfall hunting. GPS showed 13.79 miles, a good chunk was off-trail/bushwacking (mileage doesn't include shuttles). Last but not least I had to head up into the dark hills and retreive my car, but that was painless and I was homeward bound.


As always, thanks for looking.
Last edited by BrianEdwards on April 27th, 2010, 5:49 am, edited 13 times in total.

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pyles_94
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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by pyles_94 » March 23rd, 2010, 8:22 am

wow. this is an incredible trip! you definitely sometime should make a map of the clackamas area with the falls on it... i never knew the area even had potential for this many nice waterfalls!

great work man
Jamey Pyles

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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by aywolfpac » March 23rd, 2010, 8:58 am

That's a pretty long day. Some of those upper falls on Pup Creek Look really nice. Good work.

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jaimito
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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by jaimito » March 23rd, 2010, 9:01 am

Good Job once again, I've never explored that area so thanks for TR's I love to see what I'm missing.

Jamie

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chameleon
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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by chameleon » March 23rd, 2010, 9:45 am

Very cool trip Brian! I've never been down that way, but I'll have to sometime! You're trip was quite an adventure it seems, rewarded with lots of beautiful falling water. :)

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Guy
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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by Guy » March 23rd, 2010, 11:22 am

I had trailered a vehicle up with me so that I could do this shuttle hike solo. I drove the mile back down to the Clackamas River Trailhead, unloaded the car and took off up the road.
Now that's hard core :D !!
you definitely sometime should make a map of the clackamas area with the falls on it... i never knew the area even had potential for this many nice waterfalls!
Ditto!

Another great report Brian
Thanks
hiking log & photos.
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AlexanderSupertramp
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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by AlexanderSupertramp » March 23rd, 2010, 12:03 pm

I hope you get rested up and get the itch to go hunting for new falls soon because I never get tired of these! Fantastic report!

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BrianEdwards
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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by BrianEdwards » March 23rd, 2010, 3:28 pm

Thanks all, no worries on me slowing down. I wanna get as much done before the brush gets leafed out. A closer look on Google Earth of the falls I have an arrow on shows the cliff right at 148 feet tall. Definitely need to go back and get a look at it. Also, a full ascent of Helion Creek is in the works, as there's a fairly tall one up that creek a ways.
Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.

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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by Sore Feet » March 23rd, 2010, 5:18 pm

Killer job - answered a TON of question I had about the upper reaches of Pup Creek. Did you happen to get the coordinates of the various falls above Pup Creek Falls itself?

Also, don't read a whole lot into the height of a waterfall calculated in Google Earth in places like this - the terrain profiles they use are usually not terribly accurate unless it gives you a VERY flat top and bottom of the cliff band. It can be a reliable tool in some cases but isn't good for much more than real ballpark estimates in other cases (such as this). GE doesn't even render the 120+ foot cliff at Clackamas Falls at all, so there's all the proof you need.

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BrianEdwards
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Re: Fish Creek Waterfall Recon + a Full Pup Creek Descent

Post by BrianEdwards » March 23rd, 2010, 7:19 pm

Good advice Bryan, and yes I have the cords' of all the falls. I haven't put em onto a map yet to see if they're 100% accurate
Clackamas River Waterfall Project - 95 Documented, 18 to go.

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