Thursday, October 13, 2016

2016-10-10 Dark Prong Creek Walk

Dark Prong Creek Walk
with Steve Livingston and David Holle
plus a Black Balsam Sunrise
Haywood County, NC
Monday, October 10th, 2016

Me, David, and Steve along the Dark Prong

I took Monday off from work to join Steve and David on their annual Dark Prong CreekWalk Adventure.  I decided to head up a few hours before our meet-up time to do a short sunrise hike up to Black Balsam Knob.

It was a beautiful morning for a sunrise and a short warm up hike!

Black Balsam Knob Sunrise

Black Balsam Knob Sunrise  

 Black Balsam Knob Sunrise 

Black Balsam Knob Sunrise 

Black Balsam Knob Sunrise

Black Balsam Knob Sunrise

Steve and David arrived a few minutes after I finished my warm up hike.  Since we were planning a shuttle, we left my car along FR816 where we would end the day and piled into Steve's car for the short drive to the Looking Glass Rock Overlook (MP417 on the Blue Ridge Parkway) where we would begin our adventure.
Morning Twilight View from the Looking Glass Rock Overlook
(about 2 hours earlier in the morning)

The first mile of the hike was on actual trails.  We took the Mountains-to-Sea (MST), to the Bridges Camp Trail down to where the Dark Prong and Yellowstone Prong join together to form the East Fork of the Pigeon River.

The Spot where the Dark Prong and Yellowstone Prong join together

From there we would head upstream along the Dark Prong for about 3 miles.

Three Miles does not sound like much, but creek walking is slow going!  That 3 mile section of creek would end up taking us about 6 hours.

There is no trail up the Dark Prong!  It is a typical creek walk where you just head upstream following the path of least resistance.  Sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left, but most of the time smack in the middle of the creek.

Water levels were relatively low and we never got much beyond knee deep.  During times of high flow, this would be a much more difficult (and wet) hike!

The bright sun, low humidity, and seasonably cool temperatures made for a beautiful day for this type of adventure, but a very challenging day for creek photography. 

Here is some of what we saw along the way:

Eventually we got to the point where the creek was choked with brush.  So we left the Dark Prong and bushwhacked up to the Graveyard Ridge Trail which took us to the MST trail.  After a long day in the creek it felt good to be back on an actual trail to finish up the hike.

This section of the MST also offers up some nice views to end an awesome day:

 Looking up at the tiny people on top of Tennent Mountain

view from the MST
View from the MST

GPS Track from our Hike

This was a great day with excellent company!  Thanks to Steve for leading this awesome adventure!

My complete set of photos is posted here:

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