Monday, May 27, 2013

2013-05-25 A visit to my In-Laws

A visit to my In-Laws
Rutherfordton, NC
Saturday May 25th, 2013

This weekend, Amy's Aunt Tina and Uncle Jimmy were visiting her parents.  Amy's dad would be firing up the smoker for another awesome batch of BBQ.  So we decided to head on up to Rutherfordton for a visit.  Here are a few photos from our trip!

My Father-in-Law Chris

 Checking on the Butts


 Not sure why this is there
My Wife Amy

 My Mother-in-Law Ruther enjoying a cocktail

 Amy's Aunt Tina and Uncle Jimmy

Yellow Rose Bud

Monday, May 20, 2013

2013-05-18 Waterfall Wandering and Camping - Day 2

Waterfall Wandering and Camping Weekend
Day 2 - Saturday, May 18th, 2013
King Creek Falls, Spoonauger Falls, Cherry Hill Campground

Shortly after midnight we retired to our tents for the night and soon after that the rain started!  Heavy rain fell throughout the night.  By around 8:00am the rain let up enough for me to emerge from my tent into the soggy campground.

Jeff got up shortly after I did and we managed to get the campfire kicked up again.  We enjoyed some campfire coffee and breakfast and by 10:00am there was still no sign of Eric getting up.  So Jeff and I decided to head out for a couple of short waterfall hikes.

First up was King Creek Falls which is another one of my favorite waterfalls.  The trailhead is about a 10 minute drive from the campground and the hike is a relatively easy 1.0 mile each way out and back.  Despite a large number of vehicles at the trailhead parking area, we managed to not see anyone else on the trail or at the waterfall.

Water levels were high enough to make crossing the creek a challenge.  But we both managed to balance beam across some very slick logs without getting our boots wet, which was a good thing because I was running out of dry hiking boots!

The nice overcast sky made photo conditions about perfect and I got some pretty good shots of this spectacular waterfall!

King Creek Falls
 King Creek Falls

 Me and Jeff at King Creek Falls

On the hike back, I noticed some Pink Lady Slippers blooming along the trail.  There was a bunch of them and I was amazed I didn't notice any on the way in.  I would have preferred to have my Macro Lens for these, but my wide angle lens did an OK job!

Pink Lady Slipper

Next up for Jeff and I would be Spoonauger Falls.  I have only been there once before and I was less than impressed.  However, that was during a dry summer.  With the wet spring we have been having and a good amount of rain the night before, I figured it would be worth another try.

However, my last visit was so long ago, I forgot how to get there.  So we hiked up the trail for about a half mile to a creek crossing and went looking for a side trail up the creek.  There was no sign of any side trail because we were hiking up the Foothills Trail and we should have been hiking up the Chattooga River Trail.

Side Note for a future visit:  If we were to attempt a bushwhack up this stream, I bet there are some waterfalls to be discovered.

But since I didn't think Jeff was into the off trail bushwhacking we returned back to the trailhead and figured out my navigational error.

We drove down the road a short ways and parked by the bridge to begin our hike up the Chattooga River Trail.  It was amazing how much easier it is to find Spoonauger Falls when you are hiking the correct trail!

The much higher water flow made this one much more impressive than I was expecting!  And the nice overcast sky made for perfect photo conditions!

 Spoonauger Falls

 Me and Jeff at Spoonauger Falls

 Spoonauger Falls

The only negative thing was when trying to position myself for a good photo angle, I slipped and fell in the creek completely saturating my 3rd pair of hiking boots!

After our hikes, Jeff and I returned to the campground to meet back up with Eric.  There was no sign of Eric!  His vehicle was still there, but he was not in his tent.  After about a half hour we started to get a little worried, when he finally emerged from one of the Campground Showers!

After a nice campfire lunch, I was ready for another hike while Jeff and Eric wanted to make a drive into town to pick up some essentials.

I decided to hike the Big Bend Trail down to the Chattooga River.  The trail starts right across the road from the campgroud and is 2.7 miles one way down to the river.  It is a very pleasant trail, but nothing spectacular.  There are a few ups and downs, but very little elevation change until the last quarter mile as it makes the final descent down to the river.

 The Chattooga River

I was planning to head to Big Bend Falls, but the sky was getting very dark and a light rain had started falling.  So I decided to turn back.  I hiked back via Big Bend Road which roughly parrelles the Big Bend Trail.  The road walk is probably a little shorter than the trail, but it seemed to have much more elevation changes and was not as enjoyable.

The light rain turned a bit heavier towards the end of my hike but seemed to completely stop once I entered the campground.  But that would definitely change!

I managed to snap off a group photo at our campsite before the downpoars when I decided to put my camera away for good.

Jeff, Me, and Eric at the Campground

The rain really started falling and never let up.  Fortunately we had a nice bed of coals in the campfire and made it our goal for the evening to keep it going and use up all our wood!  Despite the rain, it was still a very enjoyable evening.  Jeff got a pot of oil going and made up some awesome Onion Rings, Friend Shrimp, and Fried Chicken and there were plenty of FABs consumed between the three of us!

Jeff's Canopy kept us relatively dry except for the river flowing at our feet soaking my last pair of dry footwear! 

Shortly after midnight, I made the mad dash through the rain to my tent.  There were some minor leaks around the edges, but fortunately my sleeping bag was mostly dry.  The rain did not let up at all throughout the night and I was dreading having to pack up camp in the rain!

Fortunately by around 8:00am it had reduced to just a light mist and I was able to get my gear all packed up.  I though briefly about getting in a Sunday Morning Hike, but since I was all out of dry boots I was eager to head on home!

It was another very enjoyable Waterfall Wandering and Camping Weekend!

The complete set of photos is posted here:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

2013-05-17 Waterfall Wandering and Camping - Day 1

Waterfall Wandering and Camping Weekend
Day 1 - Friday, May 17th, 2013
Silver Run Falls, Crane Creek Falls, Miuka Falls

For this weekend, we planned one of our Mancation Camping weekends with some of my buddies from work.  In the past we have had pretty good turnouts for these events.  However, this time most of the gang had to back out and only Jeff, Eric, and I would be participating.

On the way to the campground, I decided to make a stop at Silver Run Falls.  It has been several years since my last visit and at that time I was not aware that there was also an Upper Silver Run Falls which I wanted to check out.

A short and easy trail leads you to the impressive pool at the base of Silver Run Falls

 Silver Run Falls

Me at Silver Run Falls

Next up was Upper Silver Run Falls.  The trail does not continue on, but the easiest way was to follow a basic switchback up the left side of the waterfall, heading away from the creek and then making my way back towards the creek above the top of Silver Run Falls.

The Upper Falls is not much further upstream and while not as nice as the main attraction it is still definitely worthwhile!

 Upper Silver Run Falls

Me at Upper Silver Run Falls

With the first of four pairs of hiking boots totally saturated, I made my way back the way I came, changed into fresh footwear, and drove on down the road to the Cherry Hill Campground in Oconee County, SC.

I was the first to arrive, so I grabbed the smallest of the three sites we reserved and set up my tent.

I didn't feel like waiting around for the others since I had no idea what time they would be arriving, so I decided to go on a hike/bushwhack to visit Crane Creek Falls.  This is probably not one I should have done solo, but I did chat with the campground host and told him where I would be heading and when I expected to be back.

The Winding Stairs Trail starts right from the campground and is basically a long series of switchbacks down the mountain side.  The trail is covered with Mountain Laurel which was just starting to bloom.

Mountain Laurel

After about a mile, the trail passed by Miuka Falls, which I decided to save for the way back.  About another mile further, you can hear Crane Creek to the West.  At the end of the next switchback, an obvious side trail takes you to Secret Falls.

Secret Falls was covered with deadfall and the bright sun made for horrible photo conditions that I didn't even bother pulling out my camera.  From here it is a total bushwhack upstream to get to the main attraction!

Not the most difficult bushwhack, but definitely not an easy walk in the woods!  I would guess it is probably less than a quarter mile upstream from Secret Falls, and it took me about a half hour.  There are several other nice looking cascades between Secret Falls and Crane Creek Falls, but I didn't bother with any of them on this trip.

Crane Creek Falls is definitely one of my favorites!  Water Levels were nice and high and a few clouds rolled in giving me some pretty good photo conditions!  My only regret was that I left my wide angle lens back in the truck.  That just gives me an excuse to come back again sometime in the future!

Crane Creek Falls

 Me at Crane Creek Falls

After a nice visit to Crane Creek Falls, I made my way back to the Winding Stairs Trail via a route slightly higher up away from the creek.  The forest was a little thinner away from the creek making the bushwhack a little easier.

After a good bushwhack, it always feels good to get back onto a real trail!  Even though it would be all uphill back to the campground and my second of four pairs of hiking boots were now totally saturated!

I made a quick stop at Miuka Falls, but the water levels were too high to safely make it across the creek to the best photo angle.  And I really could have used the wide angle lens for this one!

 Miuka Falls

Jeff and Eric were in the process of setting up there campsites when I returned back to the campground.

The rest of the evening was spent drinking, eating, and enjoying each others company around the campfire.

Starting the Campfire


 Steak and Potato

The Campfire

 Eric, Jeff, Jack (me)

The complete set of photos from Day 1 is posted here:

Monday, May 13, 2013

For the Birds

A few months ago we noticed that a bird had built a nest on our front porch.  Even though I am not a big fan on bird poop on the front porch and being startled by a darting bird every time I open the front door, we let the nest be.

Eventually we noticed that the bird had laid some eggs in the nest and now we have four baby birds!

Mommy bird was not very happy with me for taking this photo!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013-05-11 On the Farm

On the Farm
at Amy's Grandmas Place
Rutherfordton, NC
Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Yesterday Amy and I took a trip up to Rutherfordton, NC to visit with here parents for the day.  We also made a visit to her Grandmas Place.  Since her Grandma likes to keep the house at about 90 degrees (not an exaggeration), I tend to spend most of my time outside whenever we visit there.

Fortunately, there is plenty to see and photograph around Amy's Grandmas farm.

On this visit, Amy's Uncle Ben had four young cows grazing around that were more than willing to pose for some photographs!

 My wife Amy with our Nieces

 Old Tractor


The complete set of photos is posted here: