Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015-09-19 Thompson River Adventure

Thompson River Adventure
From Lake Jocassee to the Foothills Trail
Oconee County, SC and Transylvania County, NC
Saturday, September 19th, 2015

This past Saturday, I had another awesome River Adventure with my Team Waterfall Friends.  This stretch of river is loaded with Waterfalls, Cascades, Slides, and one awesome swimming hole after another!

With the exception of the bright sunshine making for less than optimal photo conditions, it would turn out to be the ideal day for this type of adventure:
1. Water Levels on the Thompson River are low making for a much easier and safer trip
2.  0% chance of rain would keep the exposed rocks dry
3.  Musterground Road is open for Hunting Season allowing much easier access to the Thompson River Area.

As usual, I was running ahead of schedule so I made a stop to check out the view of Lake Jocassee.

view of Lake Jocassee

The group met at the Bad Creek parking area / trailhead for the Foothills Trail.  We combined into (2) 4x4 vehicles and drove down Musterground Road for about 4.5 miles to where the road starts to parallel the Thompson River.

Note: Musterground Road is only open during Hunting Season and requires a 4x4 vehicle with good ground clearance.

The first challenge would be getting down to the river as there was a very steep scramble down from the road.  I am fairly certain that the route we chose was not the best way!

 Darrin making his way down to the Thompson River

But we made it and arrived at the spot where the Thompson River empties into Lake Jocassee.

Where the Thompson River empties into Lake Jocassee

 Scott on a rock at the mouth of the Thompson River

Once at the river, our plan was to head upstream via whatever path looks easiest.  The low water levels made this much easier than it would normally be.  However off trail river walking is always a challenge no matter what the situation, especially when dealing with significant elevation changes.

We were rewarded with one cascade after another.  And just about every drop had an awesome swimming hole at it's base.  These (3) were all within the first quarter mile up from the Lake.

Nice Cascades along the Thompson River

 Nice Cascades along the Thompson River

 Nice Cascades along the Thompson River

The next significant drop was a unique sliding flume we seemed to go on forever.  The entire river was squeezed into about a narrow chute. 
 Thompson River Water Slide

Darrin took the lead and slid on down!

 Darrin going for a slide!

After Darrin proved out the safety of this awesome water slide, most of the rest of us followed suit:

 Scott trying out the slide

Bob sliding down the Thompson River

Continuing upstream, we passed by many more cascades and swimming holes!

Bob hiking up the Thompson River

Kitty showing how to cross the river

 Nice cascade along the Thompson River

Andy - Team Waterfall Hike Leader!

The group takes a break along the Thompson River


Scott on the Rocks

Andy, Kitty, and Bob watch Darrin do a Flip

Cascade along the Thompson River

We explored a short ways up one of the tributary steam and found another nice waterfall which would be even more impressive during higher flow.

Small Waterfall on Tributary Stream

Just upstream from where the tributary stream enters the Thompson is a really cool area with rocky cliffs on both sides of the river.

Kitty hiking up the Thompson River

Scott holding up the rocks

The next major landmark was where Musterground Road crosses over the Thompson River.

 Musterground Road crosses over the Thompson River

 Bob under Musterground Road

We continued on upstream and found several more cascades, slides, awesome swimming holes.

Andy makes a splash

 River Planking by Kitty

 Darrin Walking On Water

Darrin goes for another slide

Eventually we reach our goal of hitting the Foothills Trail. 

Darrin and Bob on the Foothills Trail

The rest of the group decided that they wanted to push things even further and go all the way to Big Falls.  I was really hoping to finish up at a reasonable hour, and since I have been to Big Falls twice in the past year including one time going the exact route we would be heading, I decided to pass on this hike add on.  

No doubt about it, Big Falls is incredible, but I didn't feel that I needed another visit so soon after my last one. 

So I said my goodbyes to the rest of the group and backtracked downstream.  Once at Musterground Road, I left the River and just walked the road the rest of the way back to my truck.

This was another great adventure with my awesome "Team Waterfall" friends!

The complete set of photos is posted here:

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