Lower McCloud Falls is a beloved destination for thrillseekers, sightseers and families, but the shifting of a boulder from the bank into the deep pool below has made one of the location’s most popular jumping points unsafe.
Brandon Beck, who has been jumping from Lower McCloud Falls all his life, said he visited the spot a few weeks ago with some friends. They planned to dive in head first, as usual, but something about the way the bank looked made Beck suspicious.
“I just noticed that the hillside looked different,” he said. “I ran and jumped as far out as I could go, and when I landed, I hit something with my knee. It was barely grazed; I got lucky.”
Beck said when he came up, he immediately yelled to his friends to warn them that diving wasn’t safe.
After inspecting older photos of the falls, Beck said the boulder that now sits invisible under the whitewater is about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. It’s difficult to gauge the depth of the new configuration because of the whitewater, but the boulder fell sometime over the wet winter months and is somewhere between four and six feet below the surface, he said.
At least one other person was injured at Lower McCloud Falls since the rock has fallen. On the afternoon of July 5, a California Highway Patrol H-16 helicopter was used to hoist an injured jumper to safety.
The patient was dragged from the water by the time rescuers arrived. He was transferred to an air ambulance and taken to the hospital for treatment of a head injury, according to the CHP.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said they have responded to four medical emergencies at Lower McCloud Falls this summer, although it's not clear how many are a result of the boulder and could be related to any medical emergency.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said summer is always a busy time of year for law enforcement and rescue crews, who see an influx of visitors and adventurers enjoying the county’s many recreational areas.
He warned adventurers to utilize caution and never dive into bodies of water as debris such as logs or rocks can shift unexpectedly, as in the case of Lower McCloud Falls.
Beck, who now lives in North Lake Tahoe, said he posted a sign at the jump spot above the water, but he believes it is gone now. He hopes to spread the message that this popular destination is not as safe as it used to be.