Monday, May 28, 2012

At the In Laws

Amy and I took a quick trip up to Rutherfordton, NC yesterday afternoon to pay her parents a visit

Amy's Parents hanging out in "The Shop"

Amy and her Mom checking out the Grape Vines


Amy's Dad

A few more random photos from around the property

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bee Cove Falls Hike with Brenda

Bee Cove Falls Hike with Brenda
Oconee County, SC
Saturday, May 19th, 2012

 New waterfall that Brenda and I discovered!

According to "The Waterfalls of South Carolina" guidebook by Benjamin Brooks and Tim Cook, there are (4) significant drops along Bee Cove Creek.  I had visited once before about 7 years ago, but I know I didn't make it to all (4) drops.  I was on a solo hike at the time and this is not really the place to be exploring alone.

So when Brenda suggested Bee Cove Falls for our hike destination, I jumped at the chance for a revisit.  Brenda is always up for a bushwhack and difficult scramble type hike, so I knew that together we would be able to make it all (4) waterfalls along Bee Cove Creek.

I met Brenda at the Holly Springs Gas Station along Hwy 11 and US178 and rode with her to the trailhead along Hwy107.  Actually, it is not really a trailhead, but a forest service road.  The hike starts along FS road 702 (not to be confused with FS702A which is a few hundred yards south).  There is a sign for FS702, but it is covered by brush and would be almost impossible to see from a moving vehicle.  Basically it is about 1.6 miles south of Wigington Road.

The hike starts out as an easy stroll down the wide track forest service road, gradually descending for about 1.5 miles.  Most of the Mountain Laurel was a little bit past peak, but there were some that were still in their prime.

 Mountain Laurel

Just past where the forest service road crosses over Bee Cove Creek, we turned right on another forest service road and continued downstream.  After about another half mile we turned right at a 3-way intersection heading in the general direction of Bee Cove Creek.

After a short distance, this road makes a sharp left turn.  Just before the left turn a faint trail heads off into the woods towards Bee Cove Creek.  Not long after that, we turned left on another faint trail that steeply descended down towards the creek.

We actually turned a bit too soon and ended up further downstream than originally planned.  So instead of starting from the upper drop, we ended up arriving at one of the lower drops of Bee Cove Creek.

 Lower Drop on Bee Cove Creek

We continued downstream and found one more nice little cascade.

 Cascade on Bee Cove Creek

We were pretty sure the rest of the drops were upstream, but we decided to first continue to explore downstream just to make sure we didn't miss anything!

The vegetation was very thick close to the creek, so we were bushwhacking a bit higher up the bank looking for an easy way to make our way back down to the creek when we stumbled upon another good size tributary stream.

Brenda and I were both very surprised as neither one of us was expecting to come across another creek.  I almost always have a topo map of the area with me when I go hiking, but for some reason I forgot to bring one along and therefore had no idea what creek this was.

We decided to try and follow it downstream to where it would eventually merge with Bee Cove Creek.  Soon after we arrived at the top of what looked like a pretty good drop.  Could we have accidentally discovered an un-documented waterfall?

 I think we did!  After hike research has determined that we arrived at Wilson Creek, but I found no mention anywhere of any waterfalls along this creek.

It was a difficult scramble, but we make our way down to the base of what turned out to be a very photogenic little waterfall! 

 Brenda at the new waterfall we discovered on Wilson Creek

From there we continued downstream along Wilson creek for a few hundred yards until we ran back into Bee Cove Creek which we followed back upstream to visit the rest of the waterfalls along Bee Cove Creek.

In my opinion, the next waterfall we came to was the prettiest of the waterfalls on Bee Cove Creek.  By now the sun was out in full force which is not ideal for waterfall photography, but I still liked the way this next shot turned out.
 Waterfall on Bee Cove Creek

Continuing on upstream, we came across another nice little cascade.  This one I didn't like the way any of my photos turned out, but here is one of the shots anyway!

 Cascade on Bee Cove Creek

The next waterfall upstream would be a really nice one, except for the fact that the base is littered with deadfall. 
 Waterfall on Bee Cove Creek
The Upper waterfall on Bee Cove Creek is the tallest of all the drops, but in my opinion is the least scenic of the bunch.  And again the base is covered in deadfall.

 Upper Waterfall on Bee Cove Creek

The return hike back the Brenda's vehicle was all uphill (about 1,000 of elevation gain), but uneventful.

 Elevation Profile

It was a very enjoyable hike.  The highlight of course was our discovery of a new waterfall that very few people have been to.  Even the main waterfalls on Bee Cove Creek are not highly visited, and most who visit them are not likely to explore any further.  We didn't come across another person during our entire hike.

According to Brenda's GPS we hike about 6.5 miles, which is not that much by our standards.  However, much of it was very difficult off trail bushwhacking and scrambling across some rough terrain.

 GPS Track

It was still early enough in the day to squeeze another short hike in, but we both felt that we had enough!  
The complete set of photos is posted here:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

New Waterfall Today

Brenda and I had a great hike today!  The highlight was finding a new waterfall! 

This is one that we had no idea was here and I am sure very few people have ever stumbled across it!  It came as a complete surprise to both of us to find this one!

Here are a few shots of our discovery!

 Jack and Brenda at the New Waterfall we discovered!

New Waterfall

Self Portrait after taking a shower underneath the Upper Drop

Details and Location to come whenever I get to writing the trip report.
Hint:  It is in Oconee County, SC.  Near Bee Cove Falls, but on a different creek

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mountain Bridge Wilderness - Pinnacle Pass Trail

Pinnacle Pass Trail
Mountain Bridge Wilderness
Greenville County, SC
Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Andy and I got a tip from Brenda and Darrin, a couple of friends from the Carolinas Adventures group, about the location of some Pitcher Plants.  This is a relatively rare wildflower that I have never seen before.    
So for the days hike, our main goal would be to find and photograph this rare flower which would hopefully still be in bloom.

According to Darrin and Brenda, the Pitcher Plants on the Pinnacle Pass Trail in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness of SC, a little over 5 miles in from the Jones Gap Trailhead.

Andy, his two dogs (Boone and Kona), and I hit the trail shortly after the 9:00am park opening time.  The trail starts with a few minor up and downs before beginning the serious climb up the mountain. 

The trail climbs about 1,200 feet in elevation over about the next two miles.  At the lower elevations, the Mountain Laurel was a bit past peak, but as we gained elevation we hit one of the most spectacular displays of mountain laurel that I have ever seen!

 Boone hiking through the Mountain Laurel

Shortly before the end of the climb, the trail descends slightly to a nice viewpoint of the valley down below.  

 View from the Pinnacle Pass Trail

We stopped for a short break here before continuing on.

 Kona taking a break

Soon the trail levels out making for some very pleasant hiking and a welcome relief after the tough climb.   Much of this section of trail follows along old roadbeds making for some of the easiest hiking in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness.

About a half mile past the intersection with the John Sloan Trail, the Pinnacle Pass Trail leaves the old roadbed and descends steeply on a more traditional trail.  Soon a small creek can be heard off to the right.

The trail crosses over the creek and takes you onto an open rock face.  I had hiked this section of trail once before and for some reason I don't remember the impressive views!

 View from the open rock face along the Pinnacle Pass Trail

I also didn't know at the time that this the best area where to find some rare wildflowers including the Pitcher Plants.  We were told to just explore a short distance up or downstream and we should find them.

I started out upstream, but apparently I picked the wrong side of the creek, because I didn't find any rare plants.  I did find an unexpected waterfall!  Nothing overly spectacular or photogenic, but sill a nice surprise.

 Waterfall a short distance upstream from the trail

Andy had much better luck finding the Pitcher Plants downstream.  We I met back up with him, he stated that he had found a goldmine!  A couple of other hikers overheard and thought that Andy had found an actual goldmine!  They eventually scurried on their way after Andy clarified what he had meant.

As stated earlier, I had never seen Pitcher Plants before and they are a very unique looking plant and flower.

 Pitcher Plant Bloom

Also growing in the same area as the Pitcher Plants was another interesting looking wildflower.  Andy and I guessed it to be some type of Orchid!  Our buddy KT identified it as Calopogon, a fairly uncommon type of Orchid.

 Calopogon Orchids

The third relatively uncommon wildflower that Andy spotted was Indian Paintbrush, another one that I had never seen.

 Indian Paintbrush

For the hike back, we backtracked a bit on the Pinnacle Pass before forming a loop with the John Sloan Trail and the Eastern Half of the Rim of the Gap Trail.

The Western Half of the Rim of the Gap is one of my favorites, but the part we hiked was very uneventful.  It is a grueling climb going in the opposite direction, but for us it was all downhill back to the trailhead.

Overall, it was an excellent hike!  With the rare wildflowers and the spectacular mountain laurel displays being the highlights!  The weather was just about perfect as well!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A few photos from todays hike

Mountain Bridge Wilderness, SC
Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Andy, the dogs (Boone and Kona), and I had a great hike today in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness of South Carolina. 
 Kona and Boone

Our main goal for the day was to find the fairly rare Pitcher Plants which is something I have never seen.  We succeeded in that goal!

Andy Photographing some Pitcher Plants

We also found several other varieties of flowers which I have never seen and have not been able to identify.

Another highlight of the hike was the abundance of Mountain Laurel that was blooming everywhere!  I managed to get some Mountain Laurel and a Pitcher Plant Bloom in the same shot:

Pitcher Plant Bloom next to some Mountain Laurel

And a few more shots of Kona!

More photos and a full trip report to come later!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bird on a Feeder

This photo was taken at my sisters house.  Since it was hand held and through a window, I really wasn't expecting much, but I thought it turned out pretty good.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Dad's 75th Birthday Weekend

Amy and I made a trip up to my sister's house in Sterling, VA for my Dad's 75th Birthday Celebration Weekend.  Here are some of the photos from the weekend.

 Friday night we had a fire in the backyard and listened to my nephew Conner

 My nieces and nephews (L to R:  Liam, Katie, Conner, Marielle)


 My Brother Bill and Liam

 My Brother Bill and Liam

 Katie and my Sister-in-Law Michelle


Jam Session in the Basement

The complete set of photos is posted here:

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Niece Katie

This past weekend we drove up to Virginia to visit my family for my Dad's 75th birthday celebration.  My niece Katie asked if I could take her senior portrait photos.