Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The 18th Annual SSPBDT Mancation Camping Weekend

The 18th Annual SSPBDT 
Mancation Camping Weekend
at Camp Buff
and a hike along the Weed Patch Mountain Trail
Rutherford County, NC
Friday, November 2nd through Sunday, November 4th, 2018


Every year since the turn of the century the SSPBDT (Spartanburg Steel Products Beer Drinking Team) has gotten together for the annual SSPBDT Mancation Camping Weekend.  Most of the founding SSPBDT members are no longer employed by SSP, but we still make a point to get together every year for a weekend of fun!

Welcome to Camp Buff

For the past few years the event has been held at a place called Camp Buff located near an old abandoned baseball field somewhere in the mountains of Rutherford County, NC.

Here are some random shots from Friday afternoon and evening.

 Malibu!  The only female in attendance!  She definitely had a thing for me!

 Hanging out at Camp Buff

TJ and Derek

Daniel

 TJ

 Jeff's home for the weekend

My SSPBDT friends are not much into physical activity, so I traditionally head out on my own for most of the day Saturday to go hiking!

This year I had a 20 mile out and back hike (10 miles each way) planned along the Weed Patch Mountain Trail.  Camp Buff is located about 10 minutes from the Buffalo Creek Park Trailhead making for a short an easy drive to start the day.

The hike starts on the Buffalo Creek Loop Trail.  Can't decide which way to do the loop?  Don't worry, that decision has already been made for you!

The Buffalo Creek Loop Trail

If I ever decide to dust off the old Mountain Bike, this will be one of the first trails I take it to!  This trail appears to have been designed with Mountain Biking in mind!  It makes for a really nice hiking trail as well!

About 1.5 miles in, the Weed Patch Mountain Trail heads off to the west.  This is a very well built trail as well!

 The Weed Patch Mountain Trail crossing Trout Creek

At about 5 miles from the trailhead is Grey Rock, the first wide open view along the trail.

 Approaching Grey Rock on the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

view from Grey Rock on the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

view from Grey Rock along the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

view from Grey Rock along the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

About 8 miles into the hike I saw my first other hikers of the day!  It was an unexpected and pleasant surprise to run across Mark and Renee!

 Mark and Renee on the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

And then the rest of the Surprise Party:  Brenda, Wendy, and Ashley!

Wendy, Ashley, and Brenda along the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

They had started from the upper trailhead and were heading down to Grey Rock.  I would catch them again on my hike back down!

After a quick chat, I continued on my way to Eagle Rock!

 Eagle Rock

Being color-blind, I have a hard time determining if the fall color is any good, so I will let you be the judge! 
View of Rumbling Bald from Eagle Rock

View from Eagle Rock

On the hike back down I also checked out the Tunnel Trail which leads to some interesting rock features near the base of Eagle Rock.

The Tunnel Trail

 The Tunnel Trail

From there, I pretty much continued on the Weed Patch Mountain Trail back the way I came!

A Long Way back to the Trailhead!
 
View of Grey Rock from the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

I saw a few other hikers at Eagle Rock, and a few Mountain Bikers throughout the day.  Other than that, these were the only five other hikers I saw on the Weed Patch Mountain Trail!

 Mark

Four Lovely Ladies
Wendy, Renee, Brenda, Ashley

 After a nice break and a few hugs!  I continued on down while they headed up!

Approaching Grey Rock on the Weed Patch Mountain Trail

View from Grey Rock from the Weed Patch Mountain Trail


My GPS track registered 17.5 Miles, but I do believe the actual mileage is closer to the published distance on 20 miles.



I never did find any Weed on Weed Patch Mountain, but I did get close!

Interesting Sign near the Weed Patch Mountain Trailhead

I returned to my friends at Camp Buff around 6:00pm just in time to start drinking!  Here are some photos throughout the evening.

 Hanging out at Camp Buff

Playing with Fire
(note:  do not attempt this during periods of drought or high winds!)

 A Starry Sky

 Playing with Fire

Playing with fire at the abandoned baseball field

Hanging out at Camp Buff

Hanging out at Camp Buff

The next morning I was awaken when the only female in attendance was trying to get into my tent!

 Malibu!  This girl really wanted some of me!

The Morning After

My complete set of photos is posted here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/albums/72157703268542675


Friday, October 26, 2018

2018-10-25 Knock that Standing Stone off the Bucket List

Standing Stone Falls and Rich Falls
on the Thompson River
with Darrin and Mark
Transylvania County, NC
Thursday, October 25th, 2018

Standing Stone Falls on the Thompson River

Mark, Darrin, and I have been all over the Thompson River!  But one thing we all had in common is that none of us has ever laid eyes on the elusive Standing Stone Falls.  I burned my last vacation day of FY2018 to finally knock the Standing Stone off my bucket list!

Mission Accomplished!

Last time Darrin and I attempted, we got to the top of Big Falls going up River Left, but never found a safe way back down to the river above Big Falls.

This time we started out trying the most direct approach, which was scrambling down from the main trail.  This proved to be another failure as we cliffed out at a point where there was no safe way to go any further.  So we backtracked and headed over to Rich Falls first.

 Rich Falls on the Thompson River

Darrin, Me, and Mark at Rich Falls

From Rich Falls, we continued downstream on River Right.  I believe that this is the easiest route to get to the top of Standing Stone Falls!

Just upstream from the Brink of Standing Stone Falls

 Mark, Me, and Darrin at the Brink of Standing Stone Falls


Getting from the top of Standing Stone Falls to the base is definitely not easy!  But all three of us were determined not to come up empty handed!

Standing Stone Falls turned out to be more impressive than any of us was anticipating!

 Mark, Darrin, and Me at Standing Stone Falls

 Standing Stone Falls

 Standing Stone Falls

 Standing Stone Falls

Standing Stone Falls

Darrin, by the Standing Stone

Mark and Darrin at Standing Stone Falls

The Standing Stone

Mark and Darrin at Standing Stone Falls

We actually did find an alternate route up to the main trail which was slightly shorter, but I believe that coming from Rich Falls is still the easiest and safest way to get there.

Here is the GPS Track from our adventure:

It was a great day not to be at work!

My complete set of photos is posted here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/albums/72157696979322470