Spring melt was finally upon us. The rivers were starting to run, ice retreat towards the banks, and snow layers drop to more reasonable heights. After a long winter of hunting down coordinates and researching possible new sites I couldn't wait to get out and see an actual waterfall again.
I had been to Quincy Falls a few times last year and was always turned back by nightfall. Then, earlier this winter, Katie and I had gone for a snowshoe up snow-covered creek. The old mine ruins and deep virgin snow made for a great trip - and we found something else, too. Beyond the drops I had visited last year was a suspicious wall of ice and snow that resembled a plunging waterfall far taller than the ones downstream. This was our destination today, to see if Quincy Creek was breaking free from winter's chains and if there was a waterfall that far upstream.
Parked in the normal spot, just north of the mill ruins, we headed upstream on foot. The snow was still deep so I broke trail for Faith and Logan. After a brief pause at the mill, which Faith had not seen before, we crossed the railroad trestle that marked the beginning of the waterfalls on Quincy Creek. Just as I had hoped, the water was running loudly far below us.
My companions stuck to higher ground while I dared the creekbed. Armed with thick leather boots I ignored the times I broke through crust and sank into the the shallow waters below. Most of the drops were visible but the calmer sections in between were still covered up which was fine by me.
The first few drops, especially the one near the ancient dam, were simply beautiful. Portions of the waterfall that were still covered with icy were laced with intricate icicles and patterns. These thick layers of ice around the falls made getting around the old stone dam rather difficult, yet we managed. We continued upstream, marveling at the exposed ice formations and water flow (which was much greater than summer levels).
Too soon we had made it past all of the familiar drops on Quincy Creek. I had darted up and down the bank, breaking a trail for my hiking companions at times and getting close-up shots of the falling waters at others. Faith cam down a few times too, drawn by the taller icy ones, but Logan seemed pretty lazy today. He stayed on the easy path.
The upper waterfall, the new waterfall I was hoping we could find, was more than I had hoped for. A tall plunge over sandstone, splattering onto flat rocks below, made for a much more impressive drop than any of the lower downstream ones. Faith and I rushed up to the drop, slowly circling behind on the icy surface as we breathed in the misty air. Mist. This waterfall had mist!
We did continue a short distance further upstream just in case there were more drops closer to the airport. The creek flattened out and the woods grew tighter to the water. After a half mile we turned about and headed back to the car, beating the sunset by almost a half hour. I drove us back to Houghton as we excited talked about the other new finds from the winter that should now be free and flowing.