132

132 098
10/26/13
  My parking spot off Richland Creek Rd (CR 297) was unfortunately occupied by a couple of camouflaged jumpsuit wearing hunting bastards. It was 5:15 a.m. and I needed to get going to beat the sunrise. I circled back by and tossed a sack of skunks in their direction and found another location down the road. By 5:30 I was making my way north to my forest entry point. The woods were dense with the typical stickers and prickers and dead trees and saplings and poison ivy. By 6:45 the bluff's edge was in view. This is a bluff in the upper reaches of Big Devils Fork on the western side. Sunrise was set to occur at 7:30. This short bluff line was new to me and had a fair view of Big Devils Fork looking south. Clouds were closing in but it was a fine morning with a good breeze and a temp of 42 degrees. 
  After some exploration of the bluff I slid down the slope towards the valley floor. The creek was dry in most places but some flow did emerge from under the rocks in assorted stretches. This time during the Fall transition the trees are in between green and colorful and the forest looks a bit trashy. The mostly dry creek bed ads to this phenomenon. It was still a good day to be wandering around in the mountains. I had a point marked on the map where someone claimed a couple of mill stones resided but this location was incorrect for they surely were not here. 
  My attention now turned to moving westward up the incline of the Big Middle Ridge. The ridge gets this name due to its proximity to the two branches of Devils Fork. The so called Sandstone Castles of Richland lie at the southernmost tip of this ridge just before it plummets to its terminus at the confluence of these two creeks. Luckily I was not met by any other hikers when I arrived at the caves around 10:00. I did have some skunks at the ready just in case, though. This is a really cool place. Oh...and thanks to all of you that have camped in these shelters for ruining what is a truly unique set of rock formations. Even though this is a hard to get to location I would not be surprised to see graffiti on the walls as the next act of defacement. Actually access from the north may make this the next Hawksbill Crag where throngs of people congregate on beautiful weekends. Hikers........I implore you.....please resist the temptation to camp here. If you must....at least leave the ground in a natural state. Fire rings and recliners and couches and tables somehow don't look too natural here.
  After time spent here and some lunch I once more attempted to follow the sketchy trail that takes one to the bottom. I lost it somewhere and reached the Big Devil and proceeded to the falls. There was some flow over the falls and I saw another hiker poised on the adjacent waterfall as I hit the drop off of my chosen creek. We waved as I heaved a bag of skunks to him. He was not appreciative. I later saw him and another fellow moving on...probably uphill to camp at the castles. A couple more dudes and a dog showed up just below the falls and I just happened to have one more duffle of skunks to propel in their direction. By now it was 1:30 so up the hill I did go with some bluff stops made along the way. I did arrive back at XOTU at 3:10. A couple of cars zoomed past and dusted me with road material. I usually slow down some when approaching others on the side of the road for this reason. By now it was 69 degrees. My circuitous route provided me with 9 miles of non-stop enjoyment but the end was truly welcome. No hunters were encountered. For this I am truly grateful.

Photos Click Here

Map Action