Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

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Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu May 04, 2017 3:50 pm

Last week, I went out into some desert canyons in the SE section of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. Yes, the SGW, does have a desert section. Check out the Whitewater River some time.

I had seen videos and photos of a big falls in the Whitewater Drainage. I figured this would be a good year to see it, what with all the rain, so I set out to find it, and find it I did.
Hell_For_Sure_Falls2.jpg
Hell_For_Sure_Falls

It's got to be 200' high when you add up the drop of all three tiers.

Now, the trick to it here was that I was searching for a weather balloon that had landed up behind the falls in some seriously rugged country. The falls, even the lowest tier, pretty much stops progress up the canyon, at least for hikers.
HJ_Finds_Hell_For_Sure_Falls.jpg
HJ_Finds_Hell_For_Sure_Falls


How did I find the falls? How did I get up into the drainages behind them? All that and more on my ever-so-exciting trip report. :wink: :lol:
The Road to Hell is Paved with... Weather Balloons?

Now, for those of you who like a challenge, there are notes on the continuing search for the balloon. If you're up for it, it's a challenge to plan and execute a trip into remote, rugged, trackless country. For those who are qualified, I hope you'll take up the gauntlet.

Regards,

HJ
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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby Wildhorse » Thu May 04, 2017 9:11 pm

I read your trip report. What a great hike it was. I don't have easy access to my maps right now to see exactly where you were. I like such adventures too. I once explored Grape Canyon (also in that general area) looking for some rumored site. Now I cannot remember what we were looking for, but the trip itself in that relatively untrammeled land is unforgettable. Someday, I hope to make it to the places you explored.

The remnant of the old road is interesting too. Have you heard anything about who made it, when and why?
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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby Hikin_Jim » Thu May 04, 2017 10:44 pm

There is a map link toward the very bottom of my blog post. If you have reasonably good internet access, you should be able to click on it and see my route sketches. Basically though, we were upstream from where Grape Canyon flows into the Whitewater. HFS, like Grape, is just another tributary to the Whitewater.

There was some kind of a homestead at the end of the road. It was called Walthier Landing. I'm not sure what they did to make a living; perhaps they ran cattle? Whatever the case may be, the homestead was abandoned and along with it the road. Fortunately, in a land of little rain, the road is still reasonably passable on foot and is perhaps the best way into the Whitewater upstream of Walthier Landing.

HJ
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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby Wildhorse » Fri May 05, 2017 8:17 pm

I have not had a chance to get to my computer yet to look at the map. I misread what you wrote about the road and thought you found one beyond Wathier. And I remember now, I think, that Wathier is by the south fork of the river. And you went beyond that to the middle fork. Anyway, I will study your route when I get to my computer.

I did some research on Wathier some years ago. That is buried in a file somewhere with my Whitewater maps.

Did you see any bears? We saw fresh scat around Stills Landing a couple of times.
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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby Ellen » Sat May 06, 2017 4:39 pm

Howdy Hikin' Jim :)

You're killing me -- what a great adventure! Love your trip report and pictures. I am green with envy :mrgreen: Thanks so much for sharing and Miles of Smiles,

Ellen
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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sun May 07, 2017 4:47 pm

Wildhorse wrote:I have not had a chance to get to my computer yet to look at the map. I misread what you wrote about the road and thought you found one beyond Wathier.
There is a road beyond Walthier, sort of. At the saddle at the head of Catclaw Flat (on the west), the road forks. The main road, with a trace of a foot path goes left, but there is a faint old road bed that goes to the right and enters the Whitewater farther up river. It is this right hand fork that we took. It's hard to follow in some places and is more of a route than a road for some stretches.

And I remember now, I think, that Wathier is by the south fork of the river. And you went beyond that to the middle fork. Anyway, I will study your route when I get to my computer.
Walthier Landing is on the Middle Fork of the Whitewater River, just up from where the South and Middle Forks join.

I did some research on Wathier some years ago. That is buried in a file somewher with my Whitewater maps.
I did a quick search, and I found indications that Walthier Landing was some kind of mining claim.

Did you see any bears? We saw fresh scat around Stills Landing a couple of times.
The friend I was with saw a bear and a cub, but I didn't see them. Lots of tracks, particularly of Bighorn Sheep.

HJ
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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sun May 07, 2017 4:50 pm

Ellen wrote:Howdy Hikin' Jim :)

You're killing me -- what a great adventure! Love your trip report and pictures. I am green with envy :mrgreen: Thanks so much for sharing and Miles of Smiles,

Ellen

Wait. You are green with envy?? You publish 20 trip reports to my 1. It is I who am green with envy. :mrgreen: Joycie and momma just happened to be out of town that weekend, so off I went. Most of the hiking I do has to be "suitable for seven year olds." She's a love, so it's no problem, but it is nice to get out and do a real hike once in a while.

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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby zippetydude » Mon May 08, 2017 1:56 pm

Hi Jim. Unless the weather takes another cold turn it'll probably be fall before I'm back out that way. I've been out that road a few times but I stopped where it drops down into the riverbed, so I never went far enough to find the falls. I'll have to give that a shot now that I can see where they are...of course, I'll look for the balloon while I'm there. By the way, I believe it was someone at the Whitewater Ranger Station that told me the road was at some point going to be improved and the whole area back there turned into private estates. The Wildlands Conservancy apparently bought the land before it could be developed. I'm glad, that's some interesting country back in there. Glad to hear you're still out hitting the trails with your little hiking buddy!

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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sun May 14, 2017 9:42 pm

zippetydude wrote:Hi Jim. Unless the weather takes another cold turn it'll probably be fall before I'm back out that way. I've been out that road a few times but I stopped where it drops down into the riverbed, so I never went far enough to find the falls. I'll have to give that a shot now that I can see where they are...of course, I'll look for the balloon while I'm there. By the way, I believe it was someone at the Whitewater Ranger Station that told me the road was at some point going to be improved and the whole area back there turned into private estates. The Wildlands Conservancy apparently bought the land before it could be developed. I'm glad, that's some interesting country back in there. Glad to hear you're still out hitting the trails with your little hiking buddy!
Hi, Zip.

There's some really good country out there in the drainage of the Whitewater. One of the biggest deals, the thing that made this whole trip possible, is the presence of water. Sans water, and it would have been astronomically harder for me to have done my trip. I'd have had to carry something like 12 liters of water (26.5 lbs not counting the containers) which would have taken my 24 lbs pack and made it a 50 lbs pack. :shock: The trip was hard enough as it was.

Getting out there for any additional trips is going to be difficult as you say with the weather heating up. There may be a couple of weekends yet where the weather is still below 90 F at the trail head (sort of my cut off temperature), but you'd almost have to wait to the last minute and just be able to jump on the trail if the weather on a given day looked good.

HJ
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Re: Waterfall Hunting and Lost Wx Balloons in Desert Canyons

Postby zippetydude » Sun May 14, 2017 10:39 pm

Agreed. That being said, I am guessing that there is a limited window of opportunity to find the balloon before the elements do their work and remove the possibility of a find. This sort of "treasure hunt" is very enticing to me since there is a hopeful young scientist out there trying to get some results. I will watch the weather the next few weekends and try to squeeze in a successful retrieval expedition - that would be so rewarding! I will pm you my cell # (if you don't have it still from previous good times) and we can potentially work the scene together if there is any signal back there in the canyon. In any case, if the weather will hold this could be a fun team effort. Check your pm. 8)

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