Tuesday, September 27, 2016

2016-09-18 Raven Cliff Falls on Upper Creek

Raven Cliff Falls on Upper Creek
Burke County, NC
with Andy, Kitty, Matt, Rick, and David
Sunday, September 18th, 2016

The Uppermost Drop of Raven Cliff Falls on Upper Creek

The Third Edition of Kevin Adam's North Carolina Waterfalls Book contains about 400 "new" waterfalls that were not included in the second edition.  One of those new waterfalls is Raven Cliff Falls on Upper Creek (page 48 of Kevin's new book).

I believe this is the only waterfall in the book that Kevin gives a Triple 10 rating to:
Beauty Rating = 10
Photo Rating = 10
Hike Difficulty = 10

Therefore we just had to go check it out!

Kevin gives directions coming up from the South-East, but we decided to approach it a little differently from the North-West.

We met up at the Pull-off where the Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) crosses NC181 about 20 miles north of Morganton, NC and began the hike from there.
GPS Track from our Hike

The first 1.2 miles drops about 800 feet in elevation and arrives at Upper Creek.  A side trail follows the creek downstream.  We took the side trail for a short distance stopping at a nice little cascade and swimming hole to evaluate our options.

Nice Cascade and Swimming Hole on Upper Creek

Kitty was insistent that we should continue downstream, but Andy didn't think that would work.  I would have thought that Andy has been married long enough to know that the woman is always right, but we ended up following Andy's lead, and turned back to continue on the MST.

We followed the MST for another mile or so before realizing that we had missed the side trail that Andy was looking for.  We backtracked a bit and picked up a goat path down the mountain which connected us to where we would have been an hour earlier if we had listened to Kitty!

Fortunately, I do not have a problem with hiking a few miles out of the way, and we did run across some interesting things we would have missed otherwise!

Not sure what this is

 Watch for the Herd of Evil Crawdads!

We continued downstream on what was now an obvious, but un-blazed trail which took us up above Raven Cliffs before descending steeply back down to the creek downstream from our ultimate destination.

Using common sense (and the GPS coordinates in Kevin's book), we had no problems finding the right spot to leave the trail and begin our creek walk!

Since it has not rained for over a month (not an exaggeration!), water levels were about as low as you will ever see them, making for a fairly easy creek walk.
Andy heading upstream along Upper Creek 
Raven Cliffs can be see in the upper part of the photo

It wasn't far before we arrived at the base of the Lowest Drop of Raven Cliff Falls.  This one comes equipped with an awesome swimming hole!

The Lowest Drop of Raven Cliff Falls

 David and Kitty at the Lowest Drop of Raven Cliff Falls

Getting past here was probably the most difficult portion of the hike.  Fortunately someone has strung some steel cables along side the rocks making the traverse a little easier.

Andy using the Cable Method 

Matt chooses a more difficult route up the Lowest Drop of Raven Cliff Falls!

Raven Cliff Falls is not one single waterfall.  It is actually a series of Falls and Cascades.  The next series of photos is what we saw along our climb/creek-walk up Raven Cliff Falls.

 Kitty at the next drop of Raven Cliff Falls

Raven Cliff Falls

 Raven Cliff Falls

 Raven Cliff Falls

 Rick at one of the drops of Raven Cliff Falls

The Uppermost Drop of Raven Cliff Falls

Matt at the top of the Uppermost Drop of Raven Cliff Falls

The uppermost drop also has a great swimming hole at the base.  So we took a nice long break here to cool off!

Matt Cooling off at Raven Cliff Falls

Upstream from here the creek leveled out a bit and we continued our creek walk to where Burnthouse Branch enters Upper Creek.  We followed Burthouse Branch upstream a short distance to the base of Burnthouse Branch Falls (page 51 of Kevin's new book).

 Burnthouse Branch Falls

Some people really like this one, but I was very underwhelmed with Burnthouse Branch Falls.  I would have to agree with Kevin Adam's Beauty Rating of 2 on this one.  However, water levels on this trip were about as low as they get, so I am open to a revisit under normal or high flow!

I was even less impressed with Upper Burnthouse Branch Falls!  This one was definitely not worth the Poison Ivy exposure I had to climb through to get to!  I am still paying the price for that!

Upper Burnthouse Branch Falls

We descended back down and picked up"Kitty's Trail" stopping at one more nice cascade on Upper Creek.

Cascades on Upper Creek

Soon after we arrived back at the MST.  The climb back up to our vehicles was a good little workout to end our day.  It sure would have been nice to find a swimming hole when we got back, but all we got was a very light rain shower!

I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure!  It is always a pleasure hiking with Andy and Kitty and it was great to meet Matt, Rick, and David for the first time in person!

As for Kevin's Triple 10 rating for Raven Cliff Falls?   My rating would be closer to a Triple 8.  However, as stated earlier, water flow was about as low as it gets!  High Flow would make Raven Cliff Falls even more impressive and it would definitely push the difficulty up to a 10!

My complete set of Photos from our Raven Cliff Falls Adventure is posted here:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016-09-03 - Jack and Amys Oregon Vacation - Day 7

Jack and Amy's 2016 Oregon Vacation
Day 7
Our Final Day in Oregon
Oregon Coast from Lincoln City to Newport, Yaquina Head Lighthouse, 
Butte Creek Falls, Abiqua Falls, and the Portland Airport
Saturday, September 3rd, 2016
 Lincoln City Beach Sunrise

For the final day of our Oregon Vacation we had to drive from Lincoln City to the Portland Airport.  However, since we were flying home on a Red Eye we had the entire day to make the drive back to Portland and to check out a few more sites along the way.

Our Route to the Airport for our Final Day in Oregon

I started out the morning with a sunrise stroll around the beach outside our Condo in Lincoln City.

 Sunrise over our Condo at Lincoln City Beach

 Message in the Sand

There are shorter and quicker routes to the Portland Airport, but we decided to start the drive by heading south to check out a section of the Oregon Coast between Lincoln City and Newport, OR. We stopped at a few roadside overlook spots along the way.

 Along the Oregon Coast

The Lookout at Cape Foulweather

  view from Cape Foulweather

Once in Newport we made a visit to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.  In addition to the Lighthouse, there are several short trails offering up some great views in all directions!

The Yaquina Head Lighthouse

 view from Yaquina Head

Amy walking towards the Yaquina Head Lighthouse

 The Yaquina Head Lighthouse

view of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse from Salal Hill

view from Salal Hill

After Yaquina Head we stopped for Breakfast at a quirky little place called the Newport Cafe.

The Newport Cafe

Amy at the Newport Cafe

Our final stop along the Oregon Coast was to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.  This one was not overly impressive, but I did really like the view of the Hwy101 bridge over Yaquina Bay.

The Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

The Hwy101 Bridge over Yaquina Bay

Amy - Last photo along the Oregon Coast

During the next couple of hours in the car, I changed my mind about 5 times about what to do next.  Ultimately I decided on a couple of short waterfall hikes starting with Butte Creek Falls.

Lower Butte Creek Falls is listed at 76 feet and Upper Butte Creek Falls is listed at 26 feet.  Both can be seen with a short and easy hike of about a mile round trip.  Getting to the base of the lower drop does require a bit of a scramble.

Lower Butte Creek Falls

 Lower Butte Creek Falls

Upper Butte Creek Falls

Roadside view near the Butte Creek Falls Trailhead

The final waterfall of our Oregon Trip would be Abiqua Falls.  This one was listed as a half mile (one mile round trip) hike, but about 2 miles from the trailhead the road got a bit sketchy!  Amy didn't feel comfortable taking Sandy Fey (our rental car) any further.  So the one mile hike turned into about a 5 mile hike. 

Amy wasn't up for a 5 mile hike, but this is one that I really wanted to see so I did this hike solo!

Abiqua Falls

Me getting Photo Bombed at Abiqua Falls

Abiqua Falls

Since Amy likes to make sure to allow for plenty of time at the Airport, we had several hours to kill once we returned our rental car, checked in, and got through security.  I do have to say that the Portland Airport is one of the nicest airports I have ever been through, so killing a few hours was not a problem!

I saw this on a T-Shirt and it proved to be true!
The Portland Airport!  A Great Place to Grab a Flight

Enjoying a Flight at the Portland Airport Rogue Brewery

Sunset from the Portland Airport

Enjoying my last beers in Oregon at the Portland Airport Laurelwood Brewery

Our flights home were smooth and uneventful, but neither of us was able to sleep much.  We were glad we had an extra day (Labor Day) off from work to recover!

The Complete Set of Photos from Day 7 of our Oregon Vacation is posted here:

Saturday, September 17, 2016

2016-09-02 - Jack and Amys Oregon Vacation - Day 6

Jack and Amy's 2016 Oregon Vacation
Day 6
The Oregon Coast
from Lincoln City to Ecola Point and back
Friday, September 2nd, 2016

Amy and Jack at Ecola Point

The plan for the day was to start from our accommodations in Lincoln City and head north along the Oregon Coast.   

I got up early to hopefully catch a sunrise while Amy decided to sleep in a bit.   It was too overcast for the sun to actually break through, but the fog and clouds were still really cool and the early morning light was definitely worth getting up early for!

Morning along Lincoln City Beach

Morning at Lincoln City Beach

Tracks in the Sand - Lincoln City Beach

Our Condo on Lincoln City Beach

 Cool Rocks outside our Condo

Amy was awake by the time I got back and we hit the road.  Here is some of what we saw along the way

 Along the Oregon Coast

 Amy taking a photo in the rain

 Along the Oregon Coast

Amy at the Cape Meares Lighthouse

 view from Cape Meares

 The Tillamook Cheese Factory

Amy at the Tillamook Cheese Factory

view from Ecola Point

view from Ecola Point

The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse

Haystack Rock

Cannon Beach

A bit too much to swallow at Cannon Beach

Amy at Haystack Rock

Me at Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock

Cool Cave along the Oregon Coast

 Along the Oregon Coast
Enjoying a Flight at the McMenamins Lighthouse Brewery
(note:  there is not actually a Lighthouse here!)

After we returned to Lincoln City and had a little dinner, Amy joined me for a sunset stroll along the beach outside our condo.

Lincoln City Beach Sunset

Lincoln City Beach Sunset

 Lincoln City Beach at Sunset

 Amy taking a photo of Me

Great Shot Amy!

 Evening Twilight at Lincoln City Beach

Cool Rocks outside our Condo

A perfect ending to an awesome day!

The Complete set of photos from Day 6 of our Oregon Vacation is posted here: