Wednesday, January 29, 2014

2014-01-25 Reece Place Falls

Reece Place Falls
Transylvania County, NC
Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Reece Place Falls

Andy eMailed me about checking out a waterfall on the East Fork of the French Broad River than none of us had ever been to.  I have heard about this one and was very eager to check it out.  However I already had dinner plans and would need to be finished up with the hike by about 3:00pm.

Andy convinced me that would not be an issue with this statement:
 "The hike is only 5 miles, and will be mostly on old dirt roads. I expect very little to no bushwhacking, so it should be a fast, easy hike."
This statement would turn out to be false!


Brenda, Jonathan, Jess, Andy's wife Cristy, and their two dogs would also be joining in on this hike.


The hike started out just as we anticipated with nice wide-track, old dirt roads.  However, there were quite a bit more turns than we were expecting.  Brenda and Andy had to consult their maps and gps at every intersection.  Without a map, you could easily get lost here!

Temperatures in the area had been well below freezing for the past few days, but fortunately we were all prepared for the cold and the 25-degrees at the start of the hike did not feel too bad.

 Frozen Mud Crystals along the trail

The hike was going as planned until the road we were following completely petered out high up on a ridge above the creek we were trying to get to.  At this point we could see and hear the creek, but there was no more trail to follow.  Jonathan and Jess started bushwhacking down the steep bank, so naturally I followed.

Christy was not up for any steep bushwhacking, so Andy, Christy, Brenda, and the dogs decided to follow the ridgeline downstream in hopes of finding a gentler way down to the creek.

It was definitely steep, but Jonathan, Jess, and I safely made it to the creek and arrived at the base of a really nice cascade.

 Nice Cascade upstream from Reece Place Falls

From there, Jonathan, Jess and I continued downstream.  Freezing cold water and ice covered rocks made creek walking difficult, so most of the way we bushwhacked alongside through the rhododendrum covered bank above the creek.

It was slow going, but we eventually made it to the top of the main waterfall.  Getting to the based proved to be quite the challenged!  Some of the steepest scrambling and butt sliding I have ever done!  Fortunately we made it safely back down to the creek a short distance downstream from Reece Place Falls.
 Jonathan and Jess Bushwhacking up the creek

As we made our way up the creek, we passed by several nice cascades which I stopped to photograph

 Cascades downstream from Reece Place Falls




 Jonathan and Jess



Eventually we made it to the base of Reece Place Falls which proved to be absolutely spectacular!

Reece Place Falls

Reece Place Falls

The bushwhacking portion of our hike was much more difficult and longer than I was expecting and it was looking like my plan to finish up by 3:00pm might not happen.  Just as Jess, Jonathan, and I decided it was time to head back up to the ridge to hopefully find the others, Andy and the dogs made an appearance at Reece Place Falls.

So we hung out at the falls a little while longer to give Andy a chance to photograph this spectacular waterfall!
  Andy and Kona at Reece Place Falls

The route we took back up to the ridge was steep, but nowhere near as bad as the way Jess, Jonathan, and I came down!  It was 2:00pm by the time we met back up with Brenda and Christy.  The only possible way to get back to the trailhead by 3:00pm would be to go into speed hiking mode.  So again, Jess, Jonathan, and I split off from the rest of the group for the 3.25 mile hike back to the vehicle.

We actually turned the 3.25 mile hike into a 4.0 mile hike when we missed one of the turns.  After about a quarter mile of not recognizing what we were seeing, we backtracked and found where we made the mistake.

We made it back to my truck at 3:02pm which meant we averaged about 4.0 miles per hour on the hike out. That is a pretty darn fast hiking pace, especially since the return hike was mostly uphill.  Even with temperatures right at freezing, we all had worked up a good sweat!

Here is Brenda's GPS track from the hike.  



I ended up making it home in time to take a shower before our friends showed up for our dinner plans, which turned out to be a very enjoyable evening after a very enjoyable hike!


This waterfall is definitely one I will be back to! 

The complete set of photos is posted here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8146392@N05/sets/72157640233024405/


Also, if you want to read Andy's take on the hike at get a lot more detail as to the location of this waterfall, you can check out his trip report here:
http://www.angelfire.com/trek/fungi/NC/Pisgah/East_Fork_1-14.html

2 comments:

Eeyore said...

Holy frozen icicles, man, you've got to be dedicated to hunt waterfalls in this weather. That's one way to get a smooth surface, freeze it. Beautiful, but frankly, I'm glad I wasn't with you.

K T said...

One I haven't see either. Great find! The ice made it especially nice. Kt