Monday, June 27, 2011

In search of hidden waterfalls

With this year being a very wet year in California, it seemed like a good idea to go in search of waterfalls. Not just the well known ones such as Yosemite, but others. This is something of a mixed blessing as quite often waterfalls look better in photographs when there is not as much water flowing.

This quest led me to a website called Waterfalls of the West. Note: only very easy/popular water falls have their full information available. Others require you to register. Registering requires submitting your email, after which you get a short period (24 hours?) of "free access" to information about the waterfall. This includes its height (estimated), GPS co-ordinations, etc.

A few weekends ago, I tried it out. For the waterfalls that are easily reached by a recognised and dedicated trail, the website provides good information. For others, the directions are somewhat lacking. The problem with the directions is that the person providing them is a GPS navigator and does not understand what is necessary to describe for others hiking using the directions rather than following GPS co-ordinates. For example, in one description it recommends that you "park at the turnout and walk down the road." However road is a misleading word - unused, overgrown track is more appropriate. Thus my first attempt to find that waterfall failed as I was looking for something resembling a road. After this, I made another go and discovered that there is something there that may have once been a track - not a road.0 Even USGS maps prior to the expedition being described it is clear that what's being described was never a road. When confronted with details like this, the website author complained that I was being "too picky". I'm flabberghasted. Details are extremely important when you're describing where and how to get somewhere but maybe this is a result of dealing with the Internet generation that use a GPS instead of a map.

Perhaps the most galling part of my interactions with the web site owner was that he still expressed hope that I'd pay him money. For what? Writing inaccurate directions that lead to people going astray with a caveat "you may want to use a GPS."?

Nevertheless, I found the waterfalls that I wanted - such as Mossbrae - and others that I didn't want - Little Roaring Creek. The latter is a story in itself.

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