Sunday, June 16, 2013

2013-06-15 Rutherfordton, NC

Here are a few shots from yesterday's visit with my In-Laws

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2013-06-09 Waterfall and Wildflower Wandering

Waterfall and Wildflower Wandering
Wildcat Falls, Eva Russel Chandler Heritage Preserve,
Courtney Falls, and Spider Tunnel Falls
Greenville County, SC
Sunday, June 9th, 2013

This past Sunday I joined Darrin, Bob, and their Boys on a few short Waterfall and Wildflower Hikes.  On the way to meet them, I got a text from Darrin saying they were running a few minutes late, so I took the opportunity to make a quick visit to Wildcat Falls.

I have been to this roadside waterfall dozens of times, but since the water level and lighting were good, and I had a few minutes to kill, I stopped for a few photos.

Wildcat Falls

After my visit to Wildcat Falls, I met the group and we drove up to the Eva Russel Chandler Heritage Preserve.  There are some waterfalls inside the preserve but they are really not very photogenic.  Our main goal here was to find some semi-rare plants and wildflowers.

Its a short hike to the top of Heritage Falls where the trail pretty much ends.

The top of Heritage Falls

People have fallen to their death down this slick rock slide of a waterfall, so it is not recommend to try to continue downstream via the rock.  Instead we did some easy bushwhacking to find a safer way down.  Along the way we passed by a nice cluster of Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom.

We continued on through the forest to safely arrive at the base of Heritage Falls.

 Heritage Falls

Near the base of Heritage Falls we also stumbled upon the remains of an old moonshine still.

Darrin and the Boys by an old Moonshine Still

We crossed the small creek and continued downstream where it turns into what is know as a Cataract Bog.  It is here where we hoped to find some of the rare plants and wildflowers.  And we were not disappointed! 

Here is a sampling of what we found:

Pitcher Plants


 Grass Pink

Yellow Horned Bladderwort



 Rattlesnake Skin

Fern amongst the Lichen

After a nice long photography break, we returned back the way we came and drove on to our next adventure.  This next waterfall Darrin learned about in a bar from a girl named Courtney.  Since he does not know of any official name, he decided to call this one Courtney Falls.  It is actually a series of small waterfalls and cascades.

The short hike starts off on an old road through a Bamboo Forest, which is very unusual for the upstate of South Carolina!

 Hiking through a Bamboo Forest

The road passes by some long abandoned homes running parallel to the small stream.  We hiked to a dilapidated trailer at the end of the road and then bushwhacked down to the stream to the base of the Upper Falls.

Upper Courtney Falls

Most of the Mountain Laurel in the area had shed its blooms, but just downstream from the upper falls was a nice little cascade by some Mountain Laurel that was still clinging on to it's last blooms.

Mountain Laurel Blooming by a small cascade

We continued downstream to Middle Courtney Falls.
Middle Courtney Falls

And then on to the lowest drop of Courtney Falls.

 Lower Courtney Falls

From there we bushwhacked back up to the old road and returned through the Bamboo Forest back to US276 where we had parked along the shoulder.

We didn't even have to move the truck for our next short hike.

Spider Tunnel Falls might be Darrin's greatest waterfall discovery.  We have not seen any other photos or mention of this waterfall that Darrin found all on his own.  It is on a low volume stream that does not even show up on most Topo maps, so I figure it is not much more than a trickle during times of drought.  But since we have had a very wet spring, it makes for a very unique waterfall.

It is a short but total bushwhack to arrive where Spider Tunnel Falls plunges about 25 feet down into a hole in the rock.

 Darrin at Spider Tunnel Falls

From there the water enters into a cave and flows through the Spider Tunnel.  It got this name because during Darrin's initial discovery he encountered one of the largest Spiders he had ever seen.

A steep scramble down the rock leads you to the entrance of the Spider Tunnel.

Darrin entering into the Spider Tunnel

It was a hot and humid day making for an optimal time to make use of this natural shower.

 Cooling off in Natures Shower inside the Spider Tunnel

The waterfall puts off a nice mist making for a rainbow opportunity when the sun shines.

 Darrin taking a shower beneath a rainbow

After drying off a bit, we returned back the way we came and decided to call it a day.

It was a great day of Waterfall and Wildflower Wandering!

My complete set of photos is posted here: