Monday, November 16, 2009

The Lost Falls, or How I Came to Love Mouse Coffee

Yesterday I set out to discover the "lost" falls above the Matillija watershed. What I found was a number of spectacular falls, some bushwhacking, scrambling, and not unhazardous terrain. In the end, there is a distinctive falls, 120ft tall with a narrow stream falling to a wide, shallow pool of crystal clear water. It takes 2 hours of difficult effort to get there from the main waterfalls 6.5 miles up the Matillija canyon. The gateway to the wilderness above those falls is a the shale chute from hell, which is a dicey climb. Would have been easier if it had been snow. Afterward, there is no trail and no indication that the upper canyon sees more than a handful of visitors. The area was very remote, untouched. I saw no tracks of humans, but I did see several signs of recent bear activity. I felt like I accomplished something.

I was pretty trashed when I returned to the camp-site at Green Pool at 4PM. After I returned I rounded up some firewood, washed, and changed clothes. Then it was time to relax and enjoy the evening.

Above, The Shale Chute from Hell. Below, scenes from the numerous pools and falls I encountered in the Upper Canyon. I did not include a photo of the final falls because I was unable to get a good picture of it because the light was wrong, that and the fact that I'd kind of like to keep it to myself.

With a wash and a change of clothes , it was time for the front page and crossword. I made good use of the community frying pan to throw together a meal of pasta pesto (below). After dinner I boiled up a nice pot of coffee in my beat up old pot, the remainder of which I set aside for the morning. I fell asleep to the hooting of owls. And owls eat mice, which leads to the next part of my tale.

In the morning I stretched and scratched, added some water to last night's coffee, started a fire, and reboiled the grounds. I had two leisurely cups of hot, black coffee as I woke up. After breakfast I dumped the last of the coffee and the grounds in the firepit. As I was dumping the coffee I heard a "thud" on the grill. And looking down:

"Yes, let's have a big round of applause for the dumb mouse that covertly drowned himself in my coffee pot, leading me to drink 2 cups of mouse coffee!"


  1. Nice job getting to the Upper Falls. I've been there once. Planning on going again in spring 2010. Did you use rope to get past the "main falls"? Did you come back the same route?

  2. i may try the mouse coffee recipe.