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Lacey Creek
April 12, 2009
"Is that a waterfall?" I exclaimed as I slowed down and pulled over to the shoulder. "Yeah I think it is" said Cliff. Even though it was over a mile away, there was no mistaking the long tail of water moving from side to side in the breeze. That was a little over a year ago, on the sunny morning of April 5, 2008. The boys and I were driving east on Highway 10, just south of Mount Magazine. I got out of the truck and put my longest lens on the camera, attached it to the tripod, and took some shots. The pictures didn't turn out very well, due to how far away the tall waterfall was, but at least I had something documenting the scene.
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I marked the spot where we pulled over on my GPS receiver, so that later I might estimate the location of the waterfall on a topo map. I also noted that the waterfall appeared to be almost directly below the lookout tower atop the mountain. When we got home that night I loaded the waypoint from the GPS receiver into the topo map and it was fairly obvious my waterfall was in the headwaters of West Lacey Creek. I added another waypoint to my GPS receiver marking where I thought the waterfall was, and added "Lacey Falls" to my long list of places I'd like to someday explore.
I didn't give the waterfall much thought until my vacation the following November. I drove down to Mount Magazine in search for colorful fall foliage, only to realize I was a week too late. When I came to the intersection of Highways 309 and 10, I remembered the Lacey Creek waterfall and headed west to investigate. I found a decent quality forest service road going within four tenths of a mile of where I thought the falls were. I didn't get out to hike any closer, but I made a promise to myself to return after a good rain.
Finally, everything fell into place the following April. I had a bad case of Spring waterfall fever, and a good weekend shower fell on Mount Magazine. I waited for the rain to subside Easter Sunday, drove to Greenwood then took Highway 10 to the forest road east of the Blue Mountain community. I parked west of West Lacey Creek. The woods were dark and damp, with a heavy fog overhead. The terrain was flat enough that I reached the western fork of the creek in no time at all. Dogwood blossoms brightened up the scenery along the creek.
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The water filled the woods with a rushing sound as it tumbled over boulders, but my ears didn't sense any waterfalls nearby.
I continued east towards another fork of the creek, where I always suspected the tall waterfall would be. Soon I could hear a louder commotion and through the tree limbs could barely make out the tall waterfall in the distance.
I hiked to the edge of a steep embankment above the stream, then went upstream in search for a clear view of the falls. The brush was so thick that the best I could do was find a partial opening beside the falls. The top was hidden behind a chunk of the bluff. I was surprised to see that the water hit a jumble of boulders before leaping off a second overhang.
I luckily found a way up through the bluffline without having to walk too far sideways away from the stream. The woods up above were relatively even and I quickly walked across the stream feeding the waterfall and began searching for a vantage point on top of the bluffs to the east. I crossed over a second stream with almost as much water running in it. It too went over the bluff as a waterfall, but was hidden by several tall trees. Daylight was fading when I found a clear opening with a spectacular view of the mountainside and a mostly unobstructed view of the falls. The lower drop was taller than the upper half! There wasn't nearly as much water in the falls as there was that morning a year ago. I told myself I'd just have to come back some time when there was more rain.
I did return three days later, though not to see the waterfall. I didn't have time on Sunday to photograph the Dogwoods along the west fork, and felt my documentation could not do without them. Besides, I'd been telling myself for several years that I needed to try to get some decent Dogwood blossom pictures. I'm disappointed in how the pictures turned out, but I gained some useful experience that I'm hoping will lead to some better shots next time.
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