Saturday, May 2, 2015

2015-04-26 Thompson River Adventure

Thompson River Adventure!
with Darrin, Spencer, Stephanie, Andy, Boone, and Kona
High Falls, Rich Falls, and Big Falls
Transylvania County, NC
Sunday, April 26th, 2015

For all you waterfall junkies out there, Big Falls on the Thompson River is a definite Must See!  When we found out that Spencer and Stephanie had never been we decided to change that!

First up would be High Falls (page 336 of Kevin Adam's 2005 Edition of "North Carolina" Waterfalls).  While there are no signs or blazed trails to this waterfall, if you can follow direction this one is an easy enough hike that just about anyone can handle.

High Falls on the Thompson River

The only tricky part is in order to get a decent view, you have to cross to the other side of the river.  During most times, you might be able to rock hop, but on this day the water was a good bit higher than normal.

Spencer crossing the Thompson River

Next up would be Rich Falls (aka the waterfall formally known as Waterfall #2).  But before we get to that, let me share a few of the many wildflowers we saw along the way.

 Painted Trillium


 Catesbys Trillium

 Lady Slipper getting ready to bloom

 Pink Lady Slipper

On page 346 of the 2005 edition of Kevin Adam's "North Carolina Waterfalls" book he has a listing for "Waterfall #2 on the Lower Section of Thompson River (#5)"  Many of us have given Kevin a hard time about the name he gave this waterfall.  This one is definitely deserving of a better name than "Waterfalls #2"!

Rumor has it that Kevin has agreed that "Waterfall #2" deserves a better name and in the next edition of his book he will be calling this one Rich Falls.  Naming it after Waterfall Rich Stevenson of, who was the first person to document the existence of this very impressive waterfall.

Rich Falls on the Thompson River

 Darrin on the Rocks at Rich Falls


Rich Falls

Spencer and Stephanie downstream from Rich Falls

The final waterfall of the day would be the incredible Big Falls (aka Thompson Falls).  Again, for anyone that can handle an 8 mile round trip hike, including a very steep and difficult off trail scramble, Big Falls is a must see!

The final scramble path down to the base of Big Falls is definitely tough, but probably more established than it was 10 years ago.  There are even several ropes in place now to help with the descent to the base and the climb back out.  The ropes are not 100% necessary, but they can be helpful.

 Darrin and Spencer on the scramble path down to Big Falls

There are other ways to get to Big Falls, but believe it or not, this is the easiest!  The route Darrin and I took this past September involved an upstream river walk from the Foothills Trail.  This would not have been safe with the much higher water levels we had today!

 Big Falls on the Thompson River
from this spot, it was impossible to do a long exposure without spray on the Lens

Big Falls on the Thompson River
For a sense of scale, can you spot Spencer and Stephanie.
Hint #1:   Don't get distracted by the shirtless Andy
Hint #2:    X=80%   Y=65%

Big Falls

Looking downstream from Big Falls
For a sense of scale, can you spot Stephanie?
Hint:  X=35%    Y=15%

Stephanie and Spencer hanging out at Big Falls 

Andy, Boone, and Kona at Big Falls

 Kona at Big Falls

Big Falls

Boone at Big Falls

We probably spent a good 2 hours hanging out at Big Falls.  For me the water was still a little too cold to get 100% in.  However, Darrin and Spencer were both up for a bit of waterfall water sliding!

Darrin sliding down Big Falls

Spencer Sliding down Big Falls

The return hike back to our vehicles was much quicker and fairly uneventful.  The total hike was just under 10 miles including all the sides.

GPS Track
Side trail to the left near the top = High Falls
Blob on the Bottom = Big Falls
Next Blob up from the Bottom = Rich Falls

This was an awesome day of waterfall wandering!  And I don't think I will ever get tired of the Thompson River, so I will definitely be back!

The complete set of photos is posted here:

One final image I want to share is a 360-degree stitched composite that Spencer created! 

Big Falls by Spencer Clary


Jordan Mitchell said...

Wow, nice! Thanks for sharing. These shots are fantastic! That lens is sharp as a tack, and you're really killing it with composition these days.

I think it's now way past time I started planning a trip to Big Falls...

Jordan Mitchell said...

Oh yeah, one more thing: nice leak about the name of Waterfall #2 :)

Jack Thyen said...

Thanks Jordan! We need to get together for another hike some time soon!

Brenda W. said...

Well, there's an engineer for you ... X= and Y= for giving information on where to look in a photo!! Love it!

Fantastic shots as usual Jack. Those are 3 waterfalls I still need to get to!!