Trails to Trudge: Black Star Falls

Stats:

  • Length: 6.8 miles out and back
  • Terrain: moderate trail with some light rock climbing
  • Payoff: a waterfall at the end

I heard of Black Star Canyon in high school.  Speaking of it always had an ominous feeling as whispers of ghosts, murder and drugs drifted around it.  Having actually visited there now, I can say that Black Star Canyon does carry a unique and somewhat spooky vibe and one that you can only experience in person.  However, I don’t believe anything supernatural is at work there.  Simply nature at work. The trail is relatively straightforward as it begins on a dirt trail and slowly gains elevation as you wind through the canyon…

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…The hike goes quickly and smoothly on the dirt trail until you reach the stream bed where you must climb over an endless minefield of rocks and driftwood.  My group went in February so there was not much water to be found but I imagine the hike would be much more difficult with even a little bit of water.  As you climb the stones, you reach the ultimate payoff: a “waterfall”…

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…As you can see above, the falls were bone dry.  That doesn’t mean the trip wasn’t worth it however.  Dry falls meant dry walls and if you look closely at the picture above, you can see a rope hanging out of the mouth of the cave.  There were three of us in my group and I decided I would try the climb first…

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The initial approach was easy enough.  Luckily for me, I was already halfway up the wall.  The tough part or rather the gross part, was the rope itself.  Covered in slime, dirt and slightly moist, the rope was something I wanted to avoid at all costs.  So I tried the climb up with my own two hands…

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…but soon… I realized I needed the rope…IMG_3384

…and as I got higher, the rocks became slippery.  Like a dripping faucet, the waterfall wasn’t “flowing” rather it annoyingly dripped and made everything slightly damp near the mouth of the cave…IMG_3385

…I had to take a leap of faith and hoist myself up…IMG_3386IMG_3387

…and into the mouth of cave…IMG_3388

…VICTORY at last as I stumbled onto the flat ground of the cave’s mouth…IMG_3390

…when I finally got to the top, the first thing that hit me was the stench.  Stale, dirty water gave the entire cave a foul odor that hit me so hard in the nostrils that I almost fell backward and out of the cave. Once I got over the smell, I realized that the stale water was pooling up in here but there wasn’t enough of it to spill over the sides and down into the falls; only small drips and drabs.  I looked over at my friends Brian and Tyler below, and that’s when I realized how high I was.  It was about 12′-13′ to the bottom which isn’t terribly high but it is when you begin to think about climbing down on damp, slightly wet rocks.  Not only that, but I had also accumulated a small crowd of spectators which made climbing down even more daunting and nerve-racking. After almost slipping a couple times and debating whether or not to use the rope (I ultimately had to), I made it down in one piece.

The way back seemed to go by way too fast but all in all, it was a unique and beautiful hike.  The terrain was stunning and challenging and I wish I would have taken more pictures. However, I think that I was so focused on putting one foot in front of the other and on enjoying the hike that I didn’t have time to take my phone out. Which is always a good feeling. As I alluded to in the introduction, the place does carry a unique vibe and I believe it’s in the way that the hike grabs you.  The canyon continuously closes around you and propels you forward until you reach your goal…forward…always forward.

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