Monday, April 30, 2012

Johnson Branch Farm hike

Johnson Branch Farm
Transylvania County, NC
Saturday, April 28th, 2012

I am generally not a big fan of large group hikes, but when I saw the following hike posted in the monthly CMLC newsletter, I immediately signed up.  Anytime I am offered the chance to check out some waterfalls not accessible to the public, I am not about to let that opportunity pass me by.

Johnson Branch Farm
Join CMLC for a special public hike to the Johnson Branch property on Saturday, April 28th. Permanently protected in December 2009, Johnson Branch has over 8,600 feet of streams and is an integral part of the French Broad watershed. On our hike, we will follow Morgan and Betty Jones' preexisting trail system along these tributaries to see cascading waterfalls and sprouting wildflowers. Further highlights include an awe-inspiring vista and a newly constructed trail that eases the severity of our route. Hike leader Betty Jones has catalogued hundreds of species on her land and will make for an excellent guide. This is a strenuous 2.5-mile loop trail with an elevation change of 700 ft. Hikers must be in good physical condition. Proper hiking gear and poles are highly recommended. Join us for a special hiking opportunity otherwise inaccessible to the public!

Another thing that got me excited about this hike was when I found out this parcel of land is located on the same mountainside as Maidenhair Falls, one of my all time favorite waterfalls.  Even though Johnson Branch is a much lower volume stream, I figured there should still be some pretty good drops.

As usual, I arrived a little bit early and met up with Morgan and Betty Jones, the owners of the property.  While waiting for the rest of the group to arrive, I took some time to photograph some of the old farm buildings around the property.

Betty's son David, who built the trail over past five years led the hike up the well constructed trail.  We soon past by the remains of an old Ford which I just had to stop and photograph.

 For about the next mile, the trail followed alongside Johnson Branch passing by a series of nice cascades and waterfalls.

There was also an impressive display of wildflowers including some nice Trillium and Jack-in-the-Pulpit.



The trail also crosses over several smaller tributaries which all have some pretty good drops.

Overall, the trail gained about 700 feet of elevation.  Near the top we stopped to check out a very impressive cave!

From there we started our descent and soon arrived at a rock outcrop which offered a spectacular view!

Awesome View (click photo for full size)

Betty, the owner of the property

The trail is about a 2.5 mile loop, so the descent took us through new territory where the impressive wildflower display continued including trillium and mayapple.



The loop ended at an open field near Morgan and Betty's home.

This was an excellent hike through a beautiful piece of property.  I really appreciated the opportunity to check it out and would love a chance to make a return visit!

The Complete set of photos is posted here:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Symmes Chapel

Symmes Chapel
(aka Pretty Place)
and a quick stop at Connestee Falls
Saturday, April 28th, 2012

After sunrise at Bald Rock, I continued the drive up the Mountain towards Caesars Head.  I planned on stopping at the Caesars Head Overlook, but the parking area was gated and does not open until 9:00am.  So I went with Plan B.

Symmes Chapel is located at Camp Greenville and offers up some really nice views.  With the right sky, you can get some fabulous photographs here!  Nothing really spectacular this morning, but it was still a very "Pretty Place"

After my visit to Symmes Chapel, I still had a little bit of time to kill before meeting the CMLC group fro the main hike of the day, so I made a stop at Connestee Falls.  This was my first visit since the new overlook was built and I have to say that I am a bit disappointed!

The view from the overlook is not that great and there is no path down to the base.  I am sure you can still make it down to the base using the old trail, but several signs prohibit passage beyond the official overlook area.

Since I wasn't in the mood to get arrested, I just settled for the marginal view from the overlook area: 

 Connestee Falls

The trip report and photos from the main hike of the day will be posted tomorrow!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bald Rock Sunrise

Bald Rock Sunrise
Greenville County, SC
Saturday, April 28th, 2012

I had a nice hike today with the CMLC (Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy) near Brevard, NC.  The hike didn't start until 10:00am which meant I didn't need to leave the house until around 8:30am.  However, I was wide away at 5:00am and decided it might be a good day to catch a sunrise!

I decided to head across Hwy 11 and up US276 towards Caesars Head.  Once US276 starts climbing up the mountain it is about 2 miles to the pull-off for Bald Rock.

Bald Rock is also known as Graffiti Rock.  Since it is a roadside attraction, it makes for easy access for spray painting vandals to mar this impressive rocky bald.  Despite the graffiti, it still offers up some nice views.

Unfortunately the cloudy skies never opened up enough for the rising sun to break through.  However, that did not stop me from taking a bunch of photos!  Nothing Spectacular, but still a nice morning!

 Just before Sunrise

 Looking west towards Table Rock Mountain

 view of Table Rock Mountain

 Playing around with the White Balance

 Same view - different white balance setting

 I liked the dead tree in the center

 Sunrise (behind the cloud cover)


 I also like the pools of water in the rock

 Looking West towards Table Rock

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just a few more photos from this past weekend

Weekend Visit to the In-Laws
Rutherfordton, NC
Saturday and Sunday, April 21st and 22nd, 2012

Just a few more photos from our weekend visit to Amy's Parents place in Rutherfordton, NC

The complete set of photos is posted here:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A few Macro Bug Shots

Macro Mania
Rutherfordton, NC
Saturday, April 21st, 2012

The daisies are out in abundance at my in-laws place!  So I took some time with my Macro Lens to go in for a closer look at some of the creepy crawlies that like to hang out on the Daisy Blooms.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Day of the Lizards

The Day of the Lizards
Saturday, April 21st, 2012
Rutherfordton, NC

I have noticed in the past an unusually high lizard population at my in-laws place.  However, I have never had much luck trying to photograph them.  Them seem to scamper out of the way and hide whenever I try to get close.

I am not sure what was going on with the Lizards on Saturday, but they seemed to be much more cooperative photo subjects.