Tuesday, October 10, 2017

2017-10-05 Cold Mountain and Shining Rock Loop

Cold Mountain and the Shining Rock
Loop Hike with Mark
Shining Rock Wilderness, NC
Thursday, October 5th, 2017

Mark and Me at Shining Rock

I decided to take the day off from work to join Mark on a 16 mile loop hike into the Shining Rock Wilderness area of North Carolina.  The company that I work for does not allow you to carry over vacation day and our Fiscal year (and Vacation year) ends on October 31st.  So as the saying goes, "Use them or Lose Them!"

Our hike route.  We did the loop Clockwise
(Note:  I did not get a clean GPS track - User Error!)

We started out at Camp Daniel Boone, a Boy Scout Camp located on the Western Edge of the Shining Rock Wilderness Area.  According to the outside temperature gauge on my truck it was 38 degrees starting out!  It felt great to finally hike in cooler weather after a long and hot summer!

We quickly warmed up as the trail gains almost 2,000 feet of elevation over its first 3.8 miles to Deep Gap.

 Me at the Deep Gap Trail Intersection Sign

We took a short break to shed some layers before continuing on to Cold Mountain.  The Cold Mountain Spur adds another 2.8 miles (1.4 each way), and almost 1,000 feet of additional elevation gain!  The views are well worth the effort it takes to get there!
view from Cold Mountain

 Mark at Cold Mountain

 view from Cold Mountain

 The Summit marker on top of Cold Mountain

Me at Cold Mountain

After a nice break on Cold Mountain we returned back down to Deep Gap and continued South on the Art Loeb Trail through "The Narrows", which offers up some nice views.  It is about 3 miles from Deep Gap to Shining Rock. 

view from the Narrows

 Buzzing around some Wildflowers

 Me along the Art Loeb Trail Narrows

 View from the Narrows

Mark along the Narrows
 
 Gentian Blooming along the Art Loeb Trail

 Mark Scrambling down a steep section of the Art Loeb Trail


The Art Loeb Trail takes you around Shining Rock, but you can't see much from the actual trail.  There is a multitude of side trails and scramble paths that will take you to Shining Rock.  I have found that the best way to to come up from the South Side.  My attempt at a short cut bushwhack from the North was definitely NOT a good idea. 

Fortunately after a run in with some evil briers, we eventually did make it on top of Shining Rock, a rare White Quartz rock outcrop deep within the Shining Rock Wilderness!

 Mark at the base of Shining Rock

View from Shining Rock 

 Me on Shining Rock

 Mark on Shining Rock

From Shining Rock, it is a little over 6 miles back down to the Daniel Boone Camp along the Little East Fork Trail.  The first 3 miles is a little overgrown, but still easy enough to follow.  The final 3 miles pretty much parallels the creek all the way back to camp.

 Me along the Little East Fork Trail

There are a lot of nice cascades and small waterfalls, but since I elected to save weight and not bring my tripod, I decided to save these for another day!

It was a beautiful day for a hike!  Much better than a day at the office!  It took us about 8 hours to travel the 16 miles and we only encountered two other humans during our hike.

My complete set of photos (plus a few of Mark's) is posted here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/albums/72157689298982186





Monday, September 25, 2017

2017-09-23 Gorges State Park Bearwallow Creek Adventure

Bearwallow Creek Adventure
Plus Chub Line Falls on the Toxaway River
with Mark Inman
Gorges State Park
Transylvania County, NC
Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Our main goal for the day would be to explore the section of Bearwallow Creek between Lower Bearwallow Falls and PawPaw Falls.  This would include Bear Canyon Falls, Bluff Falls, and Indian Branch Falls.

We would start at the Frozen Creek parking area which would mean a 4.5 mile (one way) hike on the Auger Hole Trail just to reach this remote section of creek deep inside Gorges State Park.


Once we reached Bearwallow Creek there is no trail upstream.  Just a creek walk and/or bushwhack following the path of least resistance.  Kevin Adam's "North Carolina Waterfall - 3rd Edition" has more detailed directions to these falls (pages 257 through 260).

Right off the bat, there are numerous cascades and small waterfalls.  Most of these are un-named, but the first Tri-Pod worthy drop, I am calling Twin Falls on Bearwallow Creek.

Twin Falls on Bearwallow Creek

I had a dry bag for my camera if we encountered any tricky creek walking sections or had to get in above waist deep water.  But it seems most of the time disaster strikes when you least expect it.  Not only had I not put my camera bag in the dry bag, but I hadn't even zipped the camera bag up when my feet came out from under me sending me (and my camera) into the creek.  It was a complete soaking!

The camera seemed to be functioning, but the display screen was dead meaning that I could not adjust most of the settings or review any photos.  This has happened before when the camera has gotten exposed to excessive moisture, and it has always recovered once it drys out.  So I wasn't overly concerned especially since the camera is about 7 years old.  But it is frustrating not to be able to adjust settings or get that instant feedback that we have become accustomed to in the digital age!

We continued on to Bear Canyon Falls!  I really like this one, but the way it curves, you can't capture the entire drop in one photo.

Bear Canyon Falls


Next up was Bluff Falls

Me at Bluff Falls
(photo by Mark Inman)

Bluff Falls

We saw no safe way up the side of Bluff Falls so we headed off into the woods for a little bushwhacking until we got to a point where we could work our way back down to the creek well above Bluff Falls.

Kevin doesn't give this next one a name, but I think it is significant enough to deserve being called Pothole Falls!

Me at Pothole Falls on Bearwallow Creek
(photo by Mark)

A short distance upstream we arrived at Indian Branch Falls.

 Indian Branch Falls

 Me at Indian Branch Falls 
(photo by Mark)

Indian Branch Falls

Rather than backtracking downstream, we decided to bushwhack up the hillside.  About 500 feet in elevation above the creek runs a forest service road.  It was definitely a steep bushwhack, but the forest was fairly open making for a relatively easy bushwhack.  Once we hit the forest service road it provided a much quicker return back to the Auger Hole Trail.

Since we were so close, we decided to make a return visit to one of my all time favorites!  Lower Bearwallow Falls!
Lower Bearwallow Falls

 Mark and Me at Lower Bearwallow Falls
(photo by Mark)

Next up was Chub Line Falls!  This one proved much more difficult than either of us was expecting!  I am pretty sure we did not follow the path that Kevin recommends in his book because we ended up arriving right at the top of the falls.  And there was no safe way down from here!

The Toxaway River just upstream from Chub Line Falls

 Me at the top of Chub Line Falls
(photo by Mark)

Side view of Chub Line Falls
(no safe way down from here)

Climbing down the rocks is not a safe option, so we ended up on one hell of a bushwhack!  This was not even fun for "Bushwhack Jack"   Mark and I both move at a pretty quick pace, but it took us over an hour to travel the 0.1 mile down to the base of Chub Line Falls.

Chub Line Falls

Mark at Chub Line Falls

 Chub Line Falls


Fortunately, we found a much quicker route back up to the Auger Hole Trail.

We had also discussed trying to squeeze in Step Around Falls, but decide to save that one for another day.  We were both beat and still had about 3 miles of hiking left to get back to the parking area.

Here is the GPS track from our days adventure:


This was an awesome day of adventure and after a day of drying out, my camera seems to have fully recovered full functionality!

My complete set of photos (plus a few of Marks) is posted here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/albums/72157686559873390


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Jack and Amys trip to Louisville Kentucky

Jack and Amy's Trip to Kentucky
Wednesday, September 13th
through
Sunday, September 17th, 2017


Chihuly Nights at the Maker's Mark Distillery

A few months ago Amy saw something about an art exhibit at the Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, Kentucky.  That got the wheels in motion to start planning a trip to the Louisville area. 


Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

We took a half day off of work on Wednesday and left Spartanburg shortly before lunch arriving in Louisville, KY just in time for dinner.  After checking into our accommodations, a nice little upstairs apartment a few miles outside of downtown Louisville, we headed downtown for dinner and a few brews.

For dinner we went to the Bluegrass Brewing Company.  I wasn't blown away by any of the beers I sampled, but the food was very good!

 Enjoying a Flight at the Bluegrass Brewing Company

After dinner we went to the Goodwood Brewery.  Not only did Goodwood have some really good beer, but they also had a live Jazz Band playing.  A great spot to conclude our first day in Louisville.



Thursday, September 14th, 2017

The next morning after breakfast we went over to Churchill Downs to check out the Kentucky Derby Museum and do a few behind the scenes tours of the most famous horse racing venue in the world!

Amy in front of Churchill Downs

Me at Churchill Downs

Amy at Churchill Downs

 The John Deere Tractor Races at Churchill Downs

Amy enjoying a Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby Museum Cafe

Me at the Kentucky Derby Museum

That afternoon we drove downtown to check out the riverfront parks and the Big Four Bridges.  One of the Big Four Bridges has been converted to a pedestrian bridge. This mile long bridge over the Ohio River offers up a pleasant stroll that takes you from Louisville, KY to Jeffersonville, IN.

 Amy at the Big Four Bridges

 Amy strolling along the Big Four Pedestrain Bridge 

The Big Four Bridges


Since it was Five O'clock somewhere and there was a brewery on the other side of the bridge, we took a little break for me to enjoy a flight at the Flat 12 Bierworks.  Amy also got a bit of shopping in the quaint little downtown area of Jeffersonville, IN.

Enjoying a Flight at the Flat 12 Bierworks

After walking back to Kentucky, we made one more Brewery Stop at the Gravely Brewing Company.  I was a little disappointed that this place does not offer flights.  But they did have a neat looking bar that reminded me of my Dad's basement!


The bar at the Gravely Brewing Company 
(reminds me of my Dad's Basement)

For dinner we went to the HopCat Restaurant.  This place has 132 different beers on tap, and we got there just in time to take advantage of some great Happy Hour Specials!


Friday, September 15th, 2017

The next morning we returned to downtown Louisville to hit a few of the touristy spots and do a little strolling around downtown!  We started out with the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum!

 Amy outside the Louisville Slugger Factory

 Amy at the Louisville Slugger Museum

Showing off my 95 mph Fastball
(actually according to this machine it was closer to 65 mph)

Taking a swing at the Louisville Slugger Batting Cage


Amy at the Louisville Slugger Lego Exhibit

Amy outside the Kentucky Science Center

Amy gets photobombed by a giant naked gold guy

Amy meets a friend on a Louisville Bench

Along the Ohio River in Downtown Louisville

They had live racing going on at Churchill Downs, and since Amy has never been to an actual horse race, we decided to check it out.  We only stayed for 3 races and I was 3 for 3 on my wagering with a net winnings of about $25.00   Amy was 1 for 3 with a net loss of about $3.00.  Not a bad afternoon at the track!

Horse Racing at Churchill Downs

Later that afternoon we checked out one of the local parks.  The Parklands of Floyds Fork was a great spot for an afternoon stroll.

 The Parklands of Floyds Fork


For Dinner we went to the Gander Grill, which turned out to be a really good choice!  



Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Saturday, we would be moving to our next accommodations in Springfield, Kentucky to get a little closer to the Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto.  We would make several stops along the way.

First up was the Bernheim Arboretum which offers up over 40 miles of hiking trails.  Amy and I did a short and easy hike together and then I did a few additional trails on my own while Amy relaxed with her book.

 Amy hanging around the Bernheim Arboretum

At the Bernheim Arboretum

The Forest Canopy Trail at the Bernheim Arboretum

Amy at the Forest Canopy Overlook


Just across the road from the Arboretum is the Jim Beam Distillery where we did the distillery tour and tasting.

 At the Jim Beam Distillery

 Bourbon tasting at the Jim Beam Distillery

 This girl mixed up a really good cocktail!

Amy at the Jim Beam Distillery

We continued our drive making a stop in the town of Bardstown where we had an awesome lunch at Talbot Tavern!  After lunch Amy enjoyed browsing through the downtown shops.


Our accommodations in Springfield, KY were really nice.  Amy also does a great job of finding unique places to stay.  This one was a modern second floor apartment in the heart of downtown Springfield.


After settling in, we drove on down to the Makers Mark Distillery in Loretto, KY for the Chihuly Nights exhibit.  An unique and enjoyable way to cap off our trip to Kentucky.

Amy at the Makers Mark Distillery

One of the Chihuly Exhibits

This was pretty neat!  The Chihuly Glass Art was in the ceiling of this Barrel House

One of the Chihuly Exhibits

 One of the Chihuly Exhibits 

 Me at Chihuly Nights

 Amy at Chihuly Nights


Our complete set of photos is posted here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/albums/72157688625277426