Leatherwoods, part 2
May 25, 2003

We headed back to Rand Road to pick up one more geocache and hopefully see the four remaining waterfalls. As long as it had rained, I was hoping the falls would be roaring. Our first stop was above China Falls. The air was cool and everything was wet so we wore jackets over our t-shirts and shorts. We began to hear the rushing of water while we were still 500 feet away from the falls, and I started getting excited because I have yet to see a big waterfall running full strength.
Turns out the sound was from two small waterfalls flowing into an amazing moss-covered glade above the big waterfall. It took a while to figure out how to get down to the glade. I neglected to read Tim Ernst's description of the hike down to the falls, and we took a left when we should have taken a right. We paid dearly for that with many bleeding scratches on our legs from briars.
Once below the big fall, Cliff climbed up to a shelter about halfway down from the overhang, while I tried to take pictures. If you look real close you can spot Cliff in the two pictures taken below the falls looking up. In one of them he is below and to the left of where the water is hitting. In the other, he is up in the shelter to the right of the falling water. I climbed up to join him and just took in the scale of this place. Cliff started picking  up small pieces of limestone and throwing them down to the solid rock where the water was falling. They practically exploded on impact, entertaining the two of us further. On the way back we stopped to examine the remains of a wooden platform in another area of the shelter.
Back at the truck, I decided against the bushwhacks to Cougar Falls, Little Glory Hole, and Crosscut Falls. China Falls wasn't running that much, and we'd had enough jungle for  one morning. I wanted to at least drive up Hwy 341 to see where Tassel Springs and Dewey Canyon were. When we drove close by Tassel Springs my GPS receiver told me the falls were just a couple hundred yards down the hill, so I pulled over and we made the short trip down and back.
We drove in to the Blanchard Springs campground to eat lunch and put on some dry clothes, which for Cliff meant ones with a muddy seat from yesterdays bushwhacking. We did the Discovery Trail Tour at the caverns, then afterwards drove over to see the springs.
After that we drove straight home without stopping. Cliff slept the entire way. But for days afterward he kept asking when we were going back to see the caverns.