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6/9/2012
  It's warm and the woods are thick but I needed to get in 'em so onward to Richland Creek. I had hiked in from the north to Twin Falls back in December and decided to give this route a try with full vegetation. As you'd expect the predominant forest floor species is poison ivy with a splash of blackberry stickers thrown in to make it challenging. Add some steep slopes and plenty of loose rocks and you've got youself a hike that makes you wonder "why am I here? Don't forget ticks, chiggers and temperatures in the upper 80's to complete the package. It had rained in this area earlier in the week and the promise of some water flowing in the creeks was enough to call me out. Entrance to this approach is from CR 297 a mile south of Dickey Junction. Arrival to this point was around 5:10 a.m. and headway into the woods was made by 5:20 in the dark with headlamp blazing. Made it to the cliff's edge by 6:00 in time for sunrise...which was slightly subdued by some clouds. It was still a beautiful morning with a temp in upper 60's. A lone skunk was encountered along the way without incident.
  After admiring the Richland valley for a while it was time to move towards Twin Falls before the sunlight could hit it's rocky edges. I stumbled down the broken bluff to meet the dry bed of Devils Fork. This is typical at dryer times, for most of the water drops below the surface just downstream of the falls. The falls were at a trickle but hey...better than nothin'. Some piddlin' around was done here and then an upstream track on Long Devils Fork was initiated. The water disappeared underground and reappeared here and there. The next stop was Jim Bob Falls, which was also at a trickle. I have yet to witness this fall with an abundance-o-water...it surely would be lovely. The stream was followed to the north until it narrowed quite a bit. Here the hike up to the top of the Big Middle Ridge was started.
  I was determined to locate the so called Sandstone Castles, which had eluded me in the past due to poor information. Descriptions read before described coming up from Big devils Fork and finding the caves on the northeast side of the ridge. Google Earth has a photo with the location on the northeast side of the ridge. Another map also shows it to be on the north side. These rock formations are on the south side of the ridge. Coordinates are 35.81637°N, 92.97263°W. This is a cool place. It is great to find something like this in a location that is hard to get to. I fear that it has become too popular already. Signs of campers are everywhere. Backpacker Magazine even had a photo and a recommendation to go there and set up tents inside. This is not really fair to others that might come to see the area only to find a bunch-o-people camping in the caves. Anyway...it is well worth the difficulty to get there. It seems to me that the easiest way in is from the west at CR37 entering the wilderness boundary just north of the house that occupies the beginning of Big Middle Ridge.
  From there I plodded downhill towards my origin of Twin Falls. I did pass a couple-o-guys working their way up the slope with the intent of camping at the caves. I hope they found them...I guess. It was not long until my vehicle was spotted at 3:30. I ended up with about 4 ticks attached and had pulled about 20 crawling ones off my pants throughout the day. the max temp I think was the upper 80's. Total mileage around 11 miles. I do not recommend this entry point during the summer unless you enjoy fighting the summer foliage. Winter it is a bit easier.

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