Sunday, May 24, 2009

2009-05-24 Pisgah Wet Waterfall Wandering

Pisgah Waterfall Wandering
Sunday, May 24th, 2009
Pisgah National Forest, NC

And then there were two
Very wet Waterfall Wanderers!

Photos are posted here:

Originally the plan for today was to attempt to visit Windy Falls on the Horsepasture River with some fellow Waterfall Wanderers from my Carolinas Adventures Group. Since this would require a good bit of rock scrambling and creek walking, it would be best to do when the rocks are dry and the creek is at normal levels.

The original forecast was perfect, with several days of dry weather leading to and throughout the weekend. However, as the weekend approached the forecast completely changed. A very early season tropical weather system had decided to leave Florida and head up through the Carolinas. Now with rain almost a certainty, we decided it would be best to hold off and save Windy Falls for another day.

So now we expected a little rain in the morning, but it was suppose to clear out for most of the day. Since it didn’t look like the day would be a complete washout, we decided to still get some hiking in. Andy and his wife Christy were camping this weekend in Pisgah, so we decided to meet up at the Fish Hatchery and plan the day from there.

Stephanie, a newbie to the group, sounded a little disappointed when I informed her that Windy Falls was out, but she still decided to join us for a day of hiking in Pisgah National Forest.

We all arrived a little ahead of schedule and since this was the first time any of us had met Stephanie we made our introductions in a steady rain shower that didn’t look like it would let up anytime soon. Andy’s wife Christy was not up for hiking in the rain. While Andy probably would have gone along if he were on his own, he didn’t feel it would be a good marital decision to leave Christy alone at their campsite for the day.

So it would be just Stephanie and me. I was a little concerned. Would a young, single woman be comfortable hiking alone with a strange man? She still seemed up for doing some hiking. What would my wife think of me spending the day alone in the woods with another woman? I would just have to find out later.

Rather than plan any long hikes, I suggested that we visit some of the waterfalls in the area:

Slick Rock Falls
Toms Spring Falls (aka Daniel Ridge Falls)
Cove Creek Falls
Waterfall on Log Hollow Branch
Waterfall on Northern Tributary of Log Hollow Branch

What do all these have in Common?

They are all waterfalls that I have been to before and said, “I need to get back to this one with better waterflow and/or on a cloudy day”

We definitely had above normal waterflow going on, and the bright sunlight would not be ruining any shots. The big challenge of the day would be keeping the water droplets off the lens! Despite bringing along a large umbrella, this proved to be a problem throughout the day, especially since I seemed to have lost my lens cloth.

I am not going to give directions to any of these waterfalls; instead I will just list the page number from Kevin Adam’s “North Carolinas Waterfalls” book. As all die hard Carolina Waterfall Wanderers know, this book is the bible of North Carolina Waterfalls and a must have! My advice to Stephanie; Go return that book to the Spartanburg County Library and buy your own copy!

Slick Rock Falls (Page 223)
This one lived up to its name as Stephanie found a slick rock and fell flat on her butt! The first of several times throughout the day!

Toms Spring Falls (aka Daniel Ridge Falls - Page 232)
I have never been to this one without the sun shining on it, so it was nice to finally be able to take a few shots with a slower shutter speed and without all the sunlight/shadow contrast.

Cove Creek Falls (page 230)
The original plan was to just hike out and back to the waterfall. However, I missed one of the turns and by the time I realized it, we decided we might as well just do the entire 4.5 mile Cove Creek / Caney Bottom Loop hike.

There are several really nice smaller waterfalls and cascades along Caney Bottom Creek, especially with the higher waterflow. However, the view from the trail is through the trees and not photo worthy. There is also no safe way that I could see to get a better view.

Near the end of the loop, I decided to check out an unmarked side trail, which took us to the top of Cove Creek Falls. We continued following side trails down to a side view, and eventually to the base of this impressive waterfall.

Along the dirt road part of the hike there are also some smaller cascades and an interesting miniature version of sliding rock into a neat little pool. I should have checked out some of these cascades on the hike in, because on the way out, the Memorial Day weekend crowds had arrived despite the rainy weather.

I have gotten to the point that I have been there enough that I can actually drive by Looking Glass Falls without stopping. Especially after seeing how many cars were parked alongside the road. I also thought about Moore Cove Falls, but there were way too many cars there as well. So we headed on to a much lesser visited area of the Pisgah National Forest.

Waterfall on Log Hollow Branch (page 220)
Talk about a short and easy hike to a beautiful little waterfall that very few people know about! While crowds of people were swarming Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls, we had this beauty to ourselves. I got my favorite photos of the day at this one!

Waterfall on Northern Tributary of Log Hollow Branch (page 218)
When I first visited this one, my copy of Kevin Adam’s North Carolina Waterfall book was brand new, without any dirt stains, frayed edges, or dog-eared pages. This one wasn’t in his original book and was the first new waterfall I visited using his new book. I was a little disappointed back then. It was a tough little bushwhack and the waterfall was barely a trickle down a steep rock.

What a difference some water makes! This one is a beauty with some good waterflow. There is also now enough of a trail that it is not really a bushwhack anymore. Still lots of deadfall and overgrown areas, but there is definitely now a navigable path the whole way up. It does get very steep and slick towards the end, but it was well worth it today!

A perfect ending to a wet but enjoyable day of Waterfall Wandering. The sun did finally make an appearance on the drive out!

Sorry Andy and Christy decided to bail out on us, but it was great meeting and hiking with Stephanie for the first time! And no, my wife understood and was not upset about me spending the day alone in the woods with another woman.

Photos are posted here:

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