Three Sisters Falls

Rather than stick to the lakes and rivers that I'm used to, I wanted to chase waterfalls today. Not just one, but three. The Three Sisters waterfalls are a sight witnessed by few, and encountered by fewer. The trail is long, hard, steep, and ultimately worthwhile. After another crazy drive off-roading on roads in the Laguna Mountains, I came here, to the abandoned rancher pass. Should you ever lose or accidentally abandon your rancher, he may turn up here.

A first-rate climbing tree.

All the desert needs is some water and some nurturing.

Sound, earthy tones.

Sock-level through the thorns and brush in the narrows.

One of the worst parts of the journey is that the three sisters are visible from within the first mile of the hike. Sadly, at first view, you're essentially two mountains away from feeling the falls firsthand. This is the view from the looking steeply down the middle mountain. The three sequential waterfalls are in the upper left corner.

A closer look at all three.

Cats are right: getting down IS the hard part. To scale, this is a 20-some foot climb down, which is easy to complain about now. Later, I get to complain about going up, too.

After scaling down a short stretch on ropes kindly tied to tree roots, I emerged at the base of the falls, ready to leap and scurry on up.

Rock structures near the creek.

Water! Falling! Little victories...

Some heavy bouldering was required to make my way up the falls. I was akin to a land salmon -- avoiding grizzlies and poachers.

More water careening between rocks.

The absolutely massive boulder here forms the cover to a deep cave, maybe 40 feet into the darkness on the left. To the right is the path onwards and upwards.

About halfway up, I took a break, climbing onto one of the larger rocks preceding a small 10-foot falls. This wasn't one of the sisters, nor one of the cousins. I think this was one of the second-cousins.

If you've seen the pictures from the Cedar Creek series, you know what falling water looking like in a snapshot. The waterfalls pause, and that split in time is stopped in a picture. Manually extending the shutter time, though, a better sense of motion is captured while the water moves in front of the lens. This was the view from my left foot as I sat and ate and drank and was rightfully merry.

The waves in front of me.

Upstream some more.

After climbing over the cave-inducing mammoth rock, the path creeps along the side of the ridge. Here, you see two of the lower sisters.

Climbing up the ridge, this is the middle sister. Middle sisters are a good thing to have, right Candice?

Climbing up the hill more, now looking sharply down to the second and third sisters. Sadly, this is as far as I went. Yup. That's it. Didn't do the first sister, or even venture deeper upstream to see the infamous Devil's Punchbowl. You can guess that there will be a sequel to this series. Today, however, I was just too tired after coming this far, and after rolling my ankle now mid afternoon, I wanted to make sure I'd make it back before sunset. Next time.

I like these plants.

Charred forest from the previous fires.

Ash and dead leaves.

Exhausted, this was the final hike uphill until the level stretch back to the truck. The climb just never stopped.

The view from the top. It's even prettier when you're gasping for air after crawling up a mountain for two miles.

More views from the top of the Lagunas.

The grassy clearings just begging for a golf course in 20 years. Ick.

What would barbed wire fence be used for in the middle of nowhere?

Apparently, the barbed wire fences weren't for cattle. Abruptly stopping over a hill's crest, these two obviously weren't paying attention to where they were going. To the left, to the left...

After they let me pass, they found some tasty desert scrubs to snack on.

I called tails... and won.