White Rock Creek
June 16, 2008
I've always tried to spend some time with the boys in the outdoors on Fathers Day, and I was pretty bummed that things didn't work out for us this year. Then a big storm Sunday night knocked out the power at my work and at home, giving me a second chance. We set out Monday morning to find a waterfall on White Rock Creek that's been on my list for quite some time.
We found a parking spot near where the White Rock/Shores Lake loop trail crosses the road, north of the Shores Lake campground entrance.
It was a bit muggy but I set a slow pace that kept us comfortable. The trail ran northwest through the woods just uphill of White Rock Creek. There were plenty of things to keep the hike interesting for us all. We stopped to pick and eat blackberries several times. Many of the countless mayapple plants along the trail bore fruits resembling small lemons. I picked a few and showed the boys how to get to the edible portion, but they weren't quite ripe.
 In a few spots the trail was littered with the small cucumber-like fruits of magnolias. We found buckeyes and saw a few clusters of red goldenseal berries. I noticed a lot of tall purple coneflowers swaying in the breeze along the way. I wanted to stop and take some pictures but as usual, didn't. I told myself the boys would complain, which I'm sure they would, but the real reason was that old laziness I still haven't figured out how to overcome.
About three-fourths of a mile into the hike, we stopped at a beautiful shaded pool where the trail crosses the stream coming down from Bliss Hollow. The boys built a rock dam that raised the water level several inches, while I got out the camera and took a few shots.
As we resumed the hike, the trail went downhill and ran alongside the creek or through adjacent vegetation. We caught several glimpses of big boulders in the water upstream, and though I yearned to make a detour and explore, we stuck to the trail. We passed a cottonmouth coiled in the sun, which caused a bit of excitement and cries from the boys to get a stick or rocks or something they attack with, but I talked some sense into them.
After a while the trail left the creek and climbed up the hillside. At a spot around 1.7 miles from where we'd started, we heard the rush of a waterfall down the hill and found a faint spur trail leading down to the creek. I couldn't believe such a big, beautiful waterfall had remained a secret!
We all stripped down to our unders and waded out into the pool below the falls. The water was only a little over waist deep, but that was enough for us to cool off in. Grant moved in close and sat down to where the water poured right on to his shoulders, while Cliff found a way to get up above he falls and look around. While looking for good locations to take pictures, I spotted a small snake in the water underneath the ledge on the left side. I knew better than to mention this!
We lingered around the falls for over an hour. I shot pictures while the boys skipped stones and dug holes in the gravel bar and watched them fill up with water. On the hike out we were all scared half to death when a deer with a red summer coat suddenly bolted from the brush ahead of us and bounded up the forest hillside.