Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Ephemeral Lower Wodehouse Creek Waterfalls!

The ephemeral Lower Wodehouse Creek Waterfalls was flowing the other day during the 2nd January thaw!      I've only seen it once or twice before, because it only flows when the Wodehouse Karst is full and overflowing into the lower creek valley.  So it only flows for perhaps 2-3 days during winter thaws or the spring melt in March.

This picture is taken from above, looking straight down.  The falls is found at the Beaver Valley Ski Club, where the creek, almost always just a dry creek bed, flows under the road leading into the upper parking lot.  And I've never found a safe way to get to the bottom of the cliff, 2/3 of the way up the Avalanche ski slope, in the winter, so this is the only picture I could get.

Wodehouse Creek arises in a huge spring a few miles to the northwest, and flows south rather than out to the edge of the escarpment, because it's in the valley created by the Gibraltar Moraine.  It enters a large sinkhole just off the 7th Line south of the hamlet of Wodehouse, where it disappears underground - almost all the time.  But only so much water can get down the sinkhole so when the flow is high, it backs up and starts forming a lake.  And if the lake gets high enough, it overflows the higher land and flows south into the lower creek valley, otherwise only occupied by a small stream the rest of the year.

There are several sinkholes, including one just upstream of the waterfalls, and there are also several springs spread out along several miles of the cliff, where the water finds a way out horizontally from the sinkholes.  Most of the year there is only a dry creek bed at the bottom end of this creek.  But in those rare times of winter thaws and high flows, suddenly, for a few days, there's a raging creek, and a thundering waterfalls.

Someday I'll tell you the whole complicated story.

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