Saturday, May 30, 2009

2009-05-30 Three Forks Hike

Saturday, May 30th, 2009
Three Forks Hike
Somewhere in the far North-East Corner of Georgia where the Banjos play!


Chauga Bill posted a hike to the Upstate Hiking and Outdoor Adventure group:

http://www.meetup.com/upstate-hiking-and-outdoor-adventures/

I usually don’t like to drive this far for a dayhike, but it is getting to the point that if I want to check out new places, I have to travel a bit farther. This would definitely be a new place for me, as I have never even heard of Three Forks.

There were eight of us who RSVPed for the hike, but half the group cancelled at the last minute and we were down to four; Chauga Bill, his wife Marianna, Kelly and me. We met at the Wal-Mart in Seneca, SC.

Bill originally planned the hike as a shuttle hike, but that would require crossing one of the creeks, which Bill figured would be a difficult crossing due to all the rain we had lately. Since we wouldn’t need a shuttle vehicle, the four of us just piled into Bill Truck and drove up Hwy 28 towards Georgia.

If you pull up a topo map and find the far North East Corner of Georgia, Three Forks is the spot where Big Creek, Overflow Creek, and Holcomb Creek meet up to form the West Fork of the Chattooga River.

I wasn’t keeping track of mileage since I wasn’t driving, but coming from SC, about 2 miles south of the NC state line we parked at a large pull-off on the left side of the road, a short distance after the road crosses Big Creek. If you cross Talley Mill Creek you have gone too far. From the parking area we started the hike on an old logging road.

Almost immediately, the trail crosses Talley Mill Creek. If you have a 4x4 with good ground clearance you can actually drive this section, which Bill though about doing to avoid getting our feet wet so soon into the hike. But instead we just shed our shoes and walked through.

We continued hiking towards the west on the mostly level logging road. Lots of large puddles and quicksand like mud filled much of the trail. Several impressive sounding cascades could be heard far down the left bank.

We passed a 4-way intersection. To the left would take us down to Big Creek, which I plan to check out on a future hike. To the right, I believe would take us to a spot further North on Hwy 28. We continued on straight.

The next fork in the trail we stayed to the left, and at the third major fork at what Bill’s hiking book called a “Frog Pond”, which was actually more like a big puddle, we turned right and started descending towards Overflow Creek.

Bill had never done this section of trail so what follows would be new to all of us! We came to another fork and turned left continuing to descend down towards the creek where we emerged to find a pretty impressive waterfall. My map showed (3) waterfalls on this section of creek, but with the high water levels, we didn’t attempt to wade upstream or downstream to find the others.

Instead, we backtracked and hiked the trail in the other direction. This ended up upstream at a fairly flat section of creek. It looked like the trail continued on the other side, but we didn’t venture any further.

We were about 3/4 mile upstream from the Three Forks area. Rather than backtracking we decided to take the faint remnants of an old logging road downstream. My map did show a trail going this direction and we figured this old logging road was it. It started out pretty smooth, with just your normal deadfall that frequently falls across seldom-used trails.

But, it kept getting worse and worse and eventually we were pretty much bushwhacking. We knew we just had to keep heading downstream and we would eventually get where we wanted to go, but that is easier said than done.

We gave up on the bushwhacking and made our way down to the creek for a little creek walking. That worked well for a while, but eventually we got to a point where the creek got narrower which means the current got stronger. Bill decided to continue on in the creek, while I led the lady’s back up the bank for some more bushwhacking through the forest.

Eventually the bushwhacking got to be too much, so we made our way back down to the creek and reconnected with Bill.

The Rhododendron and Briars were too thick for easy bushwhacking, and the current was too swift for safe creek walking. However, none of us wanted to turn back. Bill pointed to the other side of the creek and said it looked a little easier over there, so we crossed the swift current and picked up some sort of fisherman’s trail.

That worked for a while, but eventually petered out and we found ourselves back in the creek. After about 3 hours of creek walking and bushwhacking we managed to travel that 3/4 of a mile and finally arrived at Three Points.

While bushwhacking and creek walking is definitely not for everyone, I had a blast! And we did pass by several nice cascades along Overflow Creek, which most people will never see.

About 2 hours behind schedule, we found a nice campsite and “stopped for lunch” and for some further exploration of Three Forks. It turned out that we could have done a shuttle hike since we were now across the creek that we didn’t plan on crossing.

There are some really nice small waterfalls and cascades on both Holcomb Creek and Big Creek just upstream from Three Forks, which we checked out. This required more creek crossings. One time the current swept me off my feet and I ended up taking a nice swim while trying to hold my camera bag above my head.

After a nice break, we crossed back over to the other side of the creek and picked up the main trail, which climbs steeply. Even though it was steep, it was still felt good to be on an actual trail.

We arrived back at the “Frog Pond” fork and the remainder of the hike was an uneventful, but fairly level and very relaxing hike back to Bill’s Truck.

Despite the unplanned bushwhack and creek walking (or maybe it was because of the unplanned bushwhack and creek walking), I thoroughly enjoyed myself! Thanks Bill for leading us on another adventure!


For the last three years I have been saying stuff like, “I gotta get back there when the water levels are higher”. This time I say, “I gotta get back there when the water levels are lower” Plus, a little cloud cover would have helped with the photography.

It was a beautiful bright and sunny day. Perfect for hiking, but definitely not for waterfall photography. Therefore my photos are rather snapshotish. However, they should still give you a feel for what the area has to offer, so here they are:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/572715564wvzJKP

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:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/572385160TBcnyG


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:

http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/572385160TBcnyG

Saturday, May 23, 2009

2009-05-23 Hike from Blue Hole Falls to Riley Moore Falls



Hike from Blue Hole Falls to Riley Moore Falls
With the Upstate Hiking and Outdoor Adventure Group
Oconee County, SC
Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

We had a great hike today! A few light sprinkles, but otherwise a perfect day for hiking and photography!

We shuttled vehicles and did about a 7 mile hike from Blue Hole Falls to Riley Moore Falls.

A very enjoyable Day!

Photos are posted here:http://community.webshots.com/album/572343029NhfcsN

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Uncles Falls with CMLC plus a Big Bradley Scare!

Uncles Falls with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy
Plus a Big Bradley Scare!
Saturday, May 16th, 2009


"We are giving away tens of millions of dollars to do what we are doing," Ball said.
"You can't take it with you but you can certainly leave something behind."


Thanks to the generosity of the Ball & Schenck Families, close to 4,000 acres of land connecting DuPont State Forest and the Mountain Bridge Wilderness will forever be protected from development!



The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (http://www.carolinamountain.org/) was instrumental in helping these families do the right thing and place conservation easements on their land. Here are a couple of articles that explain the deal in a little more detail.

http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20070915/NEWS/709160359/

http://www.blueridgenow.com/article/20070919/news/709190342


As a member of CMLC I am offered to opportunity to check out some of these places that are not currently open to the general public. So, on Saturday I joined a large group of CMLC members for a hike into the Schenck Family Property to check out “Uncles Falls”.

I have never heard of this one, so when I saw the posting I jumped at the chance to check out a new waterfall fairly close to home.

I met the group at the Cedar Mountain Community Center along US276. On the drive up, I made a few quick stops at Bald Rock and the Caesar’s Head Overlook. I just can’t seem to drive past there without stopping.

While normally the Cedar Mountain Community Center might be a good meeting place, it was a madhouse when I arrived. There was a Flea Market going on and probably over 100 cars were trying to park where there is only room for about 20.

Our hiking group eventually found each other among the crowd of flea market shoppers and we caravanned together to the trailhead at “Cox’s Cabin” on Green River Road.

A light rain was falling as we started our hike through tunnels of Mountain Laurel that was just beginning to burst open with spectacular blooms. It is just over a mile to the waterfall, gaining about 500-ft of elevation. During that mile, the light rain had gradually turned into a heavy downpour.

Uncles Falls was very impressive and much nicer than I was anticipating! Unfortunately, I was not able to get any acceptable photos. I didn’t bring along an umbrella, so there was no way to keep that water drops off the lens. Hopefully I will get a chance to go back and get some better photos.

Uncles Falls


The rain had let off a little on the hike back and by the time we returned to our vehicles, the sun was shining. On the trail we saw a lone Yellow Lady Slipper, and a lone Pink Lady Slipper. We also saw a few young American Chestnut Trees. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Chestnut

The American Chestnut Tree is virtually extinct. Over the past century an Asian Blight completely wiped out the American Chestnut. However, occasionally some new shoots grow from the stumps and roots of long dead trees bringing the possibility of new life to this species of tree. Unfortunately, most of these young trees succumb to the blight before they reach maturity.


Despite the rain, it was still a pleasant hike. But, since it was a short hike, there was plenty of time left in the day. I decided to head to Little Bradley Falls and Big Bradley Falls, a couple of my favorites which I haven’t been to in a few years.

By the time I got to Little Bradley Falls there was not a cloud left in the sky. I didn’t bother to take a whole lot of photos.



Little Bradley Falls


I did take the time to appreciate the fact that unlike past visits, there was very little trash along the shoreline. It seems that trash and debris from I-26 gets washed into this creek during heavy rains. It is obvious that someone put a lot of effort recently to clean up much of the mess that accumulates around the base of Little Bradley Falls!

I was also impressed with the trail conditions. The trail to Little Bradley Falls seemed to be in much better shape than the last time I hiked it!


Originally, I didn’t plan on going to the base of Big Bradley since I had heard that the rope was removed from one of the rock walls you have to climb down. So I stared out by heading to the overlook areas. It was near one of these overlooks that I got scared!

I spotted a ghost!

Ghost Plant that is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monotropa_uniflora
Also know as Indian Pipe or Corpse Plant.

This is a fairly uncommon and unusual looking plant, so of course I had to go in for a close up shot. So here I am on my knees taking some photos of this eerie looking plant when I hear some rustling in the leaves just inches away.

I don’t know a whole lot about snakes, but as soon as I spotted this guy I knew I needed to give him some space. I was pretty sure I ran across a fairly large and extremely poisonous Copperhead!

I slowly backed away, being careful not to make any sudden movements. Once my heart settled down and I was a safe distance way, I switched from Macro to Zoom for a few more photos as I made my retreat away from my copper headed friend.


I noticed that there was a new rope hanging, so I decided to head to the base of Big Bradley Falls. I would guess this rock wall to be about 25-ft high. Definitely high enough to cause series injury if you slipped and let go of the rope. But since there are plenty of foot holds, it is not that much different than climbing up and down an extension ladder.

Once down the rock wall, the trail is still very steep and slick. There are plenty of trees to hold on to as you make your way down the steep path. At one point, my feet completely slipped out from underneath me. As I was going down, I reached out and wrapped my right arm around a small tree truck. This might have prevented a busted butt, but it left me with a bad case of bark burn!

I saw some poison ivy earlier, which I am pretty sure I avoided. But just to be on the safe side, I shed my shoes and socks and went wading at the base of Big Bradley. The best was to prevent poison ivy, is to wash up as soon as possible before to poison gets a chance to soak into your skin.

In addition to washing away any poison ivy juice, the cool water felt good, and it allowed me to view the waterfall at angles not available from the shoreline. After enjoying Big Bradley Falls, I decided to call it a day and returned home to Spartanburg.

Additional photos from Saturday’s adventure are posted here:

http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/572229078LoorZE




When Schenck and Ball talk about the land, they talk about the past, about the future.
The men stood on a hillside, looking at the mountain ridge that separates North Carolina and South Carolina. Ball talked about his children, and their children.
"That's what they're going to be looking at," he said. "The only change is the trees are going to get bigger."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The End of a Dirt Road

For many generations my wife Amy’s family has owned a large chunk of property in rural Rutherford County, NC. I have always enjoyed my visits there. Driving up the dirt road almost seemed like taking a step back in time.

Amy’s parents still own the property, but last weekend is the last time we will ever experience driving up that dirt road to get to their home. This week the dirt road is being paved with asphalt.

I am a little disappointed since the pavement will take a little bit away from the charm of the land. On the plus side, no more endless road dust on the vehicles, and paved roads do tend to increase property values.

Anyway, here are a few photos from our visit this past weekend:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/572044224QBKVJr

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The 2nd Annual SSPBDTSOCE

The 2nd Annual SSPBDTSOCE
Friday, May 1st, 2009 thru Sunday May 3rd, 2009
Mortimer Campground - Pisgah National Forest, NC



Photos are posted here:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/571713750qOjbqW


Last year for the first time the SSPBDT organized a camping event that was not just for the men, but also included our wives, significant others, and our rug rats! This event proved to be such a huge success that our planning team elected to make it an annual affair.

While last year’s event was held at the Cherry Hill Campground in Oconee County, SC, we decided that this year we would welcome our woman and children to our long time and favorite SSPBDT Mancation Destination; The Mortimer Campground in the Wilson Creek area of the Pisgah National Forest!

We knew that this campground is fairly small (19 sites), and that they do not take reservations. Therefore, several members of our team volunteered to make the extreme sacrifice and skip work on Friday so we can get there early enough to snag about half the sites in the campground.

Our plan worked perfectly! When Amy and I pulled up at around noonish, we saw that commissioner Steve-O and the Moore’s had already snagged the same area of the campground as the 2008 SSPBDT Mancation. They had put up their tents in the rain, but it stopped just in time for Amy and me to set-up ours.

I noticed several empty FAB cans around the campsite, so I knew it was time to pull out and set-up mobile Mr. Ecology IIII. Since the SSPBDT has gone green, we require that all empty aluminum cylinders of pleasure be recycled. Mr. Ecology IIII is a highly efficient can crushing device utilized to maximize the efficiency of our recycling efforts.

I utilized the Moore’s (Melinda and Scott) who happen to be both the shortest and tallest of the adults to calibrate the proper height for Mr. Ecology IIII. Unfortunately my calibration efforts did not take into consideration that the children would later take a liking to the can crushing process?

After the Martin’s arrived we did some quick mental calculations that determined we would need to snag a few more sites for the latecomers. So we spread out our gear and vehicles to some of the neighboring empty sites.

Once the rain gods got word that I had packed my tent the rain chances for the weekend jumped up to 100%. It has been many years since I last went on a camping trip when we didn’t get rained on. Therefore it was essential that the group get started on the giant tarp erection for the community gathering area.
After about three hours, two racks of ribs, three Engineering Changes, (24) chicken wings, countless FABS, (19) Bungee Cords, and 750-ft of rope the giant tarp erection was up and was definitely a sight to behold! Possibly our most impressive erection ever, but we would have to see how it would hold up to the rain that would certainly come!


Satisfied that our erection would last for the next 48 hours, I decided to show Amy some of the area and we went for a little walk.

An easy 5-minute hike from the campground took us to the very scenic Thorps Creek Falls. I wouldn’t make the trip just for this waterfall, but Thorps Creek Falls is definitely worth the visit if you are in the area.

After that we checked out the Mortimer Graveyard, the Mortimer Country Store, and a small section of Wilson Creek before returning to the gathering area. We arrived back just in time to pop open a FAB and welcome the Rosenburger’s to the Gathering.

The Rosenburger’s arrived at the perfect time. Late enough that the core team would already be set up and willing to help set up their tent and gazebo, but still early enough that we would still be in a condition to actually help!


By now the campground was 100% full and we weren’t sure how long we would be able to hold on to the other spots we were trying to hold for the latecomers. The Ballard’s arrived just in time to back Big Rob’s pop-up into the last spot.

We had (6) of the (8) sites in the upper section of the campground, but were unable to save the one more needed site. Where the heck would we put the Green’s 26-ft camper? We’ll worry about that later, in the meantime lets down a few more FABs

We had been holding off on building a fire as it was kind of warm, the early arrivals did not bring much wood, and we were too lazy to gather any more. Fortunately, Chris brought a nice load of firewood, so I quickly went to work at kicking up the campfire.

No matter where we are, or what we are doing, Amy always likes to go to bed around 10:00pm. The SSPBDTSOCE is no exception, so I tucked her in, did the full bodied inspection for ticks (based on last years lessons learned), and went back to enjoy the festivities while Amy drifted off to sleep.

Shortly after, the Green’s arrive with their camper. Where the heck will we park that thing! We decided on a relatively flat spot at the community site. I was amazed at Alissa’s skill in backing up that wide load!

Then the campground hosts arrived and informed us that we can’t park that thing there. We were informed that campers and RVs need to be on a gravel area. Since there were no more campsites available, I volunteered to share our site. So I moved my truck and rearranged some gear to leave just enough room to back the camper into our site.

Everyone who said they would come was present and accounted for making a total of (21) for the 2nd Annual SSPBDTSOCE:

3 - Jeffery’s
3 - Moore’s
2 - Thyen’s
2- Martin’s
3 - Rosenburger’s
4 - Ballard’s
4 - Green’s


After a Green’s had somewhat settled in, a group of us went on a midnight graveyard tour before I called it a night. Amy got up to go pee when I arrived at the tent and she was very confused about the giant camper that was now located about 4-ft from our tent.

Sometime during the night, a steady rain started falling. Based on our lessons learned brainstorming sessions, all of our sneakers were located inside the tent this time!


The next day!


The giant tarp erection was a bit flaccid in the morning due to a bit of pooling rainwater, but nothing that some good poking couldn’t fix. Using my big stick I poked around and drained the water from the tarp. The erection quickly popped back up to its full glory.

After a nice campfire breakfast, I was ready to get some hiking in. Jeff and Lori wanted to come along with Amy and Me, so I chose a hike that I thought they could handle.

The trailhead for Harper Creek Falls is only a few miles from the campground, and I thought the hike would be appropriate for novice hikers. It is about a 3.5 mile round trip out-and-back hike. There is a climb of a few hundred feet, and a steep scramble to get down to the base. Other than that, it is a pleasant mostly level hike.

Lori and Amy elected not to climb down to the base of Harper Creek Falls and instead elected to enjoy the view from the trail, while Jeff and I scrambled down the very steep slope. The morning rain made the rocks very slick!

After our hike we returned to the campground just in time for lunch. The plans for the afternoon were to do whatever the heck we wanted. Most were planning to head down to the Wilson Creek Gorge for some kayaking, fishing, and hanging out on the rocks. Amy was happy to just hang out at the campground with her book.

I wanted to get another hike in, so I picked out one of the few waterfalls in the area that I had yet to visit. On to Little Lost Cove Falls!

The gate to FR464A was open, but I elected to park at the main road and hike it. I wasn’t sure what condition the road would be in, plus the extra mileage would not hurt. Turns out the road would have been 100% drivable. Still an enjoyable walk with a plethora of wildflowers along the way.

The directions mentioned that the side trail down to the waterfall was very easy to miss, so I was carefully looking and turned off in the direction of falling water on what I thought was the side trail. I actually turned too soon and ended up near the top of the upper falls. I did find a couple of nice smaller cascades, but there was no way to safely get down to the base from where I was.

I ended up backtracking and eventually found the correct trail which took me down to the base of Upper Little Lost Cove Falls. This one turned out to be a beauty! Much nicer than I anticipated. From there I followed the faint side trail down to the base of Lower Little Lost Cove Falls.

The Lower Falls is taller than the Upper Falls, but in my opinion the Upper Falls is nicer and easier to get to. The last stretch down to the Lower Falls was very steep! I would definitely bring Amy back to the Upper Falls sometime, but the trail to the Lower Falls would not be Amy approved.

I still had plenty of time for another short hike. I visited Little Lost Cove Cliffs during the last SSPBDT Mancation and remembered thinking that it would be a beautiful spot when the Rhododendrons are in bloom, so I chose this as my final hike of the day!

I was glad I did, because the Rhododendrons were almost at peak bloom and it was an awesome site to behold. When the rain started falling, I decided it was time to head back.

I returned to the campground and saw absolutely no one from our group. However, there were no vehicles missing. I eventually located Amy napping inside our tent, but we had no idea where the rest of the group was.

Eventually, the entire group emerged from the trail at the backside of the campground. They had all made the short venture to Thorps Creek Falls. They returned from their short hike with several backpacks full of empty FAB cans.


The group dinner plans for the evening would be a Low Country Boil. Shrimp, Corn, Sausages, and Potatoes, boiled together with plenty of tasty seasoning. Chris also brought along a bunch of Chicken which he grilled up on the campfire and brushed with a very spicy Habanero barbeque sauce!

Dinner was delicious and relatively healthy for campfire food! The remainder of the evening was spent laughing and enjoying each others company around the campfire. We went on another midnight graveyard tour for the benefit of anyone that missed Friday night’s tour, and also ventured out in search of “Extreme Darkness”.

The 3/4 full moon had emerged from behind the clouds just in time to put a damper on the extreme darkness experience. Next year we will try to schedule the event around the moon cycle in hopes of 100% Extreme Darkness!


Not sure exactly what time I eventually retired to my tent, but around 3:00am, I got up to pee, looked up and saw a clear sky. Would this be the first time in years that the camping gear is dry when we pack up to head home?

An hour or so later, the rain started falling and by wake-up time some steady rain fall had wet all our camping gear and left the giant tarp erection sagging again. The good news is, except for a little area around the zipper, our tent stayed dry inside.


We managed to roll up the sleeping bags, but there was no use trying to fold up the tent as it would need to be re-assembled to let dry out when we returned home. Packing up wet camping gear is not my favorite experience, but it is one I have grown very accustomed to over the past few years.

I though about getting another short hike in on Sunday Morning, but thought better of it. Amy was ready to head home and since this has become the favorite campground of the SSPBDT I am sure there will be many return trips to the area.

A great time was had by all!

Some photos from the 2nd Annual SSPBDTSOCE can be viewed here:http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/571713750qOjbqW