20 August 2016

Holy Jim Falls

Cleveland National Forest



With my sister back in the state, she wanted to get another of the particularly old geocaches. This one is a little past a popular waterfall fabled for its graffiti. I decided I might get to see what all the fuss is about, although was not too excited about the second part. I borrowed the Explorer to come down because I wanted to poke around the roads and peaks above the waterfall. Unfortunately there are seasonal gates on those roads and the season they are closed for is fire, not winter. They were locked up tight and the only thing I got out of bringing the larger vehicle is an easier drive along the last 1.5 miles of road to the trailhead. Taking it in the Scion would have been exciting, I am sure. I grabbed a shady spot under some trees just before the fire station while the main parking is actually just after. There are at least a dozen vehicles there and four or five are small cars with clearance around 6" like mine.

Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Station
The Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Station next to a bit of road that is not at all challenging.

The parking lot is just before a fork with one heading off to another trail and the other passing by a bunch of cabins. A map shows an overview of the area with mileages marked. From here to the closed roads above is only 4.5 miles. It feels like it will get hot along the way. We need to head past the cabins, so we do. Two roads go that way and we just go along the one that is handy. It gets to a cabin and stops, but there is a short scramble up to the correct road to get us passing by the rest of the cabins. The last has a supply of water and a note that basically states they do not want to have to go out and save you, so please drink some water.

peacock that has shed its tail feathers
Odd things happen among the cabins. We are approached by a peacock with a cry like a goose rather than the haunting squawk they usually emit.



last cabin
Water supplied at the last cabin.

There is more to mark this actual trailhead. We have more than enough water, so launch ourselves out into the parched trail without taking any more. It really is parched. The creek is bone dry, which does not bode well for trying to see a waterfall. The sycamores seem to be surviving, so maybe it is not quite so dry underground.

lots of green leaves
The sycamores are looking fairly good and everything outside of the very bottom of the canyon is looking very dry.

The trail is wide and easy and climbs a little. Interpretive signs tell about the history of the canyon and the man it is named for who was anything but holy. He was actually called Cussin' Jim, but some puritan cartographer could not abide by that and adjusted the name, or so the story goes. The signs have all been uprooted or destroyed. The most interesting one points out the remains of the cabin, but must have been moved, because nothing about it seems to correspond to the nearby area.

along the trail
Looking back down the canyon along the trail past a rather dry looking oak tree.

check dam
Old stone check dams are frequent in the creek.

After a very brief climb, the area around the trail takes on a different, more green, character. There are some nice, cool spots and below one check dam is a pool of water. It is stagnant, but it exists.

lots of leafy green
Green up ahead.

check dam side
The edge of one check dam that the creek now goes around.

water pool obscured
Below another check dam is a stagnant pool.

The trail forks marked by a very solid looking sign. We head the "wrong" way to go after the old geocache first. This starts climbing out of the canyon on many a switchback. Looking across, there are a couple spots that appear to have once had switchbacks up them, too. It is probably just animal tracks or maybe a chance surveyor.

direct directions
A very solid piece of signage.

1 mile mark
Marking off the miles. Now just 3.5 miles to the top.

upper bits of the canyon
Taking in the view of the upper bits of the canyon.

trail ahead
What lies ahead as we turn around. There are antennas at the top.

We are successful in finding the geocache and then head back down again. This time we turn up toward the waterfall. One fellow coming down had informed us that it is quite dry. I am this close, I am going anyway. One of the uprooted signs said that Cussin' Jim kept bees and planted figs. The original figs burned in a fire, but the seeds survived to grow more and now they are all over the place. I finally figure out which of the plants they mean through the help that there is fruit growing off the ends of many of the branches. While most of my figs come pulverized and wrapped in cookie, I have seen them a few times. They are funny looking and are indeed everywhere. There are even a few fig tunnels to crawl through on the way.

figs in the sky (with diamond)
Unripe figs stuck on the ends of many a branch.

The trail after the fork does not seem worked in an official way. It was not actually shown on the map and the sign attached to the side of the post looks a little like simple acceptance of it being there. As we get close to the falls, the trail gets a little worse. The creek bed gets better. It actually has a little bit of water in it although it does not look very nice.

use trail looks like
Like it or not, there will be trail to a waterfall. Scruffy use trail, but trail.

brown puddle
Gooey, brown water in the creek bed.

Around a corner, there is the waterfall. The guy who said it was dry must not have bothered to look. There is a trickle of water coming down the rocks. It is not impressive, but nothing is in these dry times.

a tiny bit of water in the waterfall
The waterfall. There is water in there. Just barely.

Actually, it does not look like it would be and impressive waterfall with a lot more water. The birds seem to love it. There are little birds all over the place and they are chirping and enjoying themselves. It is not just the water that has their attention. The figs are growing here, too, and the ones right by the water are turning ripe. There is even one that is ripe, uneaten, and I can reach with a bit of effort. My sister does not want to try it saying it is red. It is probably only the second fresh fig I have eaten.

figs on a branch
More figs, but one has ripened and had some nibbles on it.

little bird
Mostly finches out enjoying the water and fruit.

damsel flies and yellow jacket
Insects are taking advantage of the water too.

more figs and a bird
Figs and birds are just everywhere.

humming bird
A humming bird proves difficult to capture on CMOS as it flutters, drinks, and bathes in the little water.

in flight before the waterfall
One of the finches takes to the waterfall.

Eventually I finish taking pictures of the birds after one false finish just before the humming bird made an appearance and my bored sister can return.

cabin in the canyon
Back to the cabins.

She is almost home free. On the way out, I do stop by a mine that is just a short way from the side of the road. There are bars to prevent entry and the inside is clearly dangerous with a lot of rock fall, but I am wondering how deep it might be.

hole in the hillside
A hole in the rocks a little way up the hill is the mine.

a deep hole
Behind the gate, it goes back quite deeply and it is difficult to say how deep.




©2016 Valerie Norton
Posted 29 August 2016

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