Friday, February 27, 2015

2015-02-22 Little Cove Creek

The Waterfalls of Little Cove Creek
Green River Game Lands
Polk County, NC
Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

 
Me by the Waterfall on the Right (south) Fork of Little Cove Creek (aka Bradley Cooper Falls)


About three years ago, Andy and I "discovered" (3) new waterfalls in the Green River Gamelands of North Carolina.  We are quite proud of these as we found them without any tips or knowledge that they actually existed.  We came across them purely by studying topo maps, speculating where some new waterfalls might be, and bushwhacking into the unknown.

I am sure we were not the first humans to visit these waterfalls, but until Andy and my trip reports from three years ago, there was no information on the web or any print publication about these waterfalls.  It is always nice to be able to claim a waterfall discovery before the likes of Kevin Adams, Waterfall Rich, and Bernie Boyer, who I consider to be the top (3) waterfall gurus in the Carolinas!

This past Sunday, I planned a return visit to show off our discovery to some of my "Team Waterfall" buddies.  It is best to hike the Green River Gamelands on a Sunday as it is a very popular hunting area.  Joining me on this adventure would be Darrin, Bob, Sam, Spencer, Stephanie, and Bob's dog Sobie.

The hike starts on the Gamelands access road just beyond the Wilderness Cove Tube Rental Shack.  I was quite surprised to find a good bit of snow still on the ground.

The road to the trailhead

 Green River Gamelands Trailhead

The first mile of the hike is about as easy as it gets along a wide track forest service road with virtually no elevation change.

Hiking into the Green River Gamelands

Eventually the road arrives at a pair of old cabins.

 Old Cabin in the Green River Gamelands

 Kudzu Cabin

The Green River Gamelands

Turning right and heading past the Kudzu Cabin would eventually take you to the base of Big Bradley Falls, a highly recommend hike.  But that was not our plan for the day.  Instead, we turned left and headed further downstream from Big Bradley.

The first challenge of the hike would be the crossing of Cove Creek.  The water was high enough to make rock hopping impossible, and water temperatures barely above freezing would make for quite the chilly creek crossing.

Darrin, Sam, Sobie, and I decided to go with the knee high and very cold method to get across.

Darrin Crossing Cove Creek

Meanwhile, Spencer, Stephanie, and Bob found another way across a short distance upstream from where the road fords the creek.

Spencer, Stephanie, and Bob finding a much dryer way across Cove Creek

We continued on the forest service road through some open fields where feed corn is grown.  Eventually the road turns in the wrong direction and the bushwhack portion of the hike begins.  A short and easy bushwhack would take us to Little Cove Creek.

You can head upstream on either side of the creek, but I find the left side to be a little easier.  Crossing Little Cove Creek is rather easy, as there are plenty of places you can find to rock hop or log walk across without getting wet.

Stephanie crossing Little Cove Creek

From here it is an easy bushwhack of about a half mile to the first waterfall.  Despite Kevin Adam's dislike for coming up with names for un-named waterfalls, during our initial discovery three years ago, Andy decided to call this one Milton Bradley Falls.  The really "cool" thing about this visit compared to my previous visits was all the ice and snow around the waterfall!

 Waterfall on Little Cove Creek (aka Milton Bradley Falls)

 Waterfall on Little Cove Creek (aka Milton Bradley Falls)

However, that ice and snow would make the next portion of our adventure even more of a challenge.  Continuing upstream the bushwhacking gets much steeper and more difficult.  If there is an easy way, I have not found it!

There is good reason why I should make my Yaktrax a permanent fixture in my backpack during the winter.  But for some reason, I always seem to leave them behind when I need them most.  They definitely would have made things easier and prevented dozens of slips and slides on the hard packed snow and ice!

Eventually we got through the worst of the bushwhacking and reached a point where the two main tributaries of Little Cove Creek join together as one.  A very short distance upstream on each of the tributary forks is where the next two waterfalls are located.

 Waterfall on the Right (South) Fork of Little Cove Creek (aka Bradley Cooper Falls)



Waterfall on the Left (North) Fork of Little Cove Creek (aka Marilou Bradley Falls)

We took our main break of the day here.  Darrin was seriously dehydrated from the intense bushwhack.  Thank god he had his LifeStraw!

Darrin!  Thank God for LifeStraw!

Unfortunately, Spencer did not bring a LifeStraw and had to resort to hooking up an IV in order to replenish his fluid levels!

 Spencer with his IV

After a nice break to photograph and enjoy the waterfalls, it was time to turn back.  Spencer decided the the bushwhack would be easier if we went a little higher up the ridge.  I made the mistake and followed him.  That was definitely not the way to go!  All this did was add a good bit more climbing, followed by a long series of butt slides just to get back to our original route!

Once we got past the difficult bushwhacking part and into flat and open ground, we took some time to pose for a couple of group photos in the corn fields.

 The Children of the Corn  (Darrin came up with the caption and photo idea)

 L to R:  Stephanie, Jack(Me) Spender, Bob, Darrin, Sam, and Sobie

 Sobie
 
The final challenge would be crossing back over Cove Creek.  My feet were already soaked from accidentally falling into the creek earlier in the day, so I just trekked on through with my already saturated hiking boots.  That gave me time to photograph the others taking the dryer but much more difficult way across!

 Spencer, Stephanie and Bob Crossing Cove Creek

Spencer and Stephanie Crossing Cove Creek

We briefly discussed extending our hike by heading to the base of Big Bradley Falls, but decided to save that for another day.  It would have been pushing things to get there and back in the time we had left.  So we just enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to our vehicles to finish up another awesome day of Waterfall Wandering.

The final stretch out of the Green River Gamelands


Approximate hike route and waterfall location (not based on actual GPS data)

The complete set of photos is posted here:

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