Over the last month or so I spent a lot of time looking over different maps, searching out where to explore for new waterfalls in the spring. There were two spots up by Lake Linden that kept cropping up. Hungarian Falls has a small, unnamed tributary that runs in from the west and flows down into the gorge, forming a steep sliding drop. I had yet to get a good view of it, only discovering it after the first few snowstorms had started freezing up the creeks. Also, I was starting to wonder if there were more drops upstream. After all, Dover Creek has close to seven drops depending on how you counted them. Maybe there were more waterfalls farther upstream on this small tributary.
Another spot that bugged me was on the other side of Douglas Houghton Falls. The tall rise that forms this waterfall, as well as several other impressive drops, continues north with several creeks cutting deep channels. There was an unnamed creek draining wetlands near Laurium before flowing down a particularly promising little gorge into Trap Rock River. The bonus of this unnamed creek was that it was nice and close to Gas Plant Road and St Louis Mine, making for an easy and scenic visit.
When a relatively warm Saturday rolled around I leaped at the chance. Logan and I drove up towards Tamarack, parking just off of 6th Street near some other vehicles, and started the long trek up Golf Course Road. The weather was mild, hovering around freezing, and the snow packed wetly beneath our feet. I decided to cut over on the ATV trail downhill from my normal entrance. It was worth it. We were on the downstream entrance to Hungarian Falls and near a tall, impressive trestle over Dover Creek.
After taking some photos from the trestle, looking both down into the snowy creek and out over Torch Lake, we followed the well-worn path along the gorge. The path still lead uphill. Even though we were near the creek and on top of a deep valley the land continued to rise up, a steady climb that does not level out until you reach the reservoir and upper falls.
With the warm temperatures I held a small hope that I'd find some of the drops of Hungarian flowing. They weren't. A few dripped while others gurgled under their icy encasing. There was no visible waterfalls to find today. We had to be careful near some of them, ice wearing thin around a few open patches of water. Logan broke through once, plunging into a few inches of cold water, more surprised than hurt by the sudden break.
Just to be thorough we checked all of the falls, even the upper one way up by the reservoir, before circling around to the side drop. The woods were thick and there were no trails over here, forcing us to duck under low branches and crawl through snowbanks to make it upstream. I was starting to wonder how far I really wanted to check upstream for this possible waterfall when we bumped into an obvious dip in the snowy creek that could only be a drop. I marked the spot and we cut north, taking a trail through a small orchard back to the main falls. My suspicion was correct - we found a new waterfall for spring adventures. Now it was time to try our luck up by Laurium.
Again I planned to use the old railroad grade to our advantage. The long track had once stretched far north of Hancock, connecting numerous mines along the ridge, and today's snowmobilers pack down a nice trail that is easy for winter hikers like me to walk on. It's probably not a great idea to walk along an active snowmobile trail but I figured it was smarter than wading through the deep snow five feet away. I parked on Gas Plant Road near the grade and we headed north. It took less than five minutes for us to be standing high above the narrow little gorge, looking down the rock-filled grade, and I wondered just how we were going to get down to the creek below.
I didn't really feel like wandering up and down the grade and chose the fastest way. After a quick daring look over at Logan I leaped over the edge, tumbling and sliding past the trees in a flurry of white and limbs. Yipping loudly he chased me, half-running and half-swimming through the loose fluff. For a few minutes there it would have been hard to tell us apart with how much noise and snow we kicked up.
We soon hit the bottom and realized just what we had gotten ourselves into. The snow was easily up to waist in most places, with a few drifts threatening to pass my chest in height. There were no obvious waterfalls here so I started the tough push upstream, leaning heavily against the snow, using the small trees around to help me pull up and past the different banks. It was not an easy hike.
After a long hundred yards or so I found what I was looking for. Ahead of me, just below a sharp bend and outcropping on the creek, was the sheer face of a frozen waterfall poking out from the snow. Unnamed and not marked on any maps, but the drops were here. I marked the location and planned to revisit in the spring.
Exhausted by the deep snow I turned around and followed our broken path out. A quicker route may have been to climb the steep west bank, and a more scenic one would have gone up the east bank to hunt for the old mine, but this damp snow had worn on me. And Logan. We made it back to the grade and slugged back to the car. Two new waterfalls had been found today, though both would have to wait until spring to explore more fully.