Thursday, November 3, 2016

2016-10-29 Three Forks Adventure

Team Waterfall Backpacking Adventure
Three Forks Area of the Chattahoochee National Forest
Somewhere in the far North East Corner of Georgia
where the Banjos Play!
Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Team Waterfall Group Photo at Thunderdome Falls

As mentioned in my previous post, I forgot my camera when Andy and I went to visit Chasm Falls the previous evening and had to settle for cell phone photos.  Therefore I started the day with a short drive and hike to revisit Chasm Falls with my good camera.  I am glad I did, because I got some much better photos this time under the nice morning light!

 Chasm Falls on the West Fork of Overflow Creek

After Chasm Falls, I returned to the campsite join back up with Andy and to finish packing up.    Andy and I hit the road for the short drive to the Three Forks Trailhead.  Kitty and David were already there when Andy and I arrived about 15 minutes early.

The Team Waterfall Early Arrivals Selfie
L to R:  Me, David, Kitty, Andy

We waited about a half hour before Kitty, David, and I decided to begin the 1.5 mile backpack down to the Three Forks Area to set up camp.  Andy decided to hang back and wait around for the late arrivals.

I had been to Three Forks once before on a dayhike about 7 years ago.  However, this was the first time I have hiked in from this direction.  The first mile was relatively easy, however the last half mile is a bit of a scramble and quite the challenge when carrying a heavy pack, tent, camera, tripod, and cooler full of FABs.
GPS Track of our hike down to the Three Forks Area

However, we made it to Three Forks without any issues and set up camp at an awesome spot where Holcomb Creek, Overflow Creek, and Big Creek converge together to form the West Fork of the Chattooga River!

After setting up camp and exploring around a bit, the others started to arrive.

 Scott and Darrin arrive at Camp

Jennifer Arrives!

After everyone got set up and had a little lunch we started out on our main goal for the day.  An exploration of Big Creek.  These are all fairly high volume creeks, so the extreme drought the area is under makes for the perfect time for some creek walking!

Andy heading up Big Creek

Just upstream from our campsite is the first waterfall on Big Creek.

Waterfall on Big Creek just upstream from our Campsite
Note: photo taken later in the day when the lighting was better

There were a few tricky spots, but with the low water levels it was mostly a fairly easy creek walk.  For some of the larger cascades and waterfalls we did have to bushwhack around a bit.

Here are some of the photos along the way.

Nice Cascade along Big Creek

Scott admiring some awesome fall color over Big Creek

Jennifer in a cool cave alongside Big Creek

Darrin arriving at a nice cascade along Big Creek


Darrin, Kitty, Jennifer, Andy 

Waterfall on Big Creek

 Darrin photographing a Waterfall on Big Creek

Jennifer and Andy

Darrin, Kitty, and Jennifer approaching Thunderdome Falls
This is the only shot I got where you can come close to seeing all three tiers

Thunderdome Falls

Thunderdome Falls

Darrin "The Salmon" Swimming at Thunderdome Falls

Thunderdome Falls
(can you spot Andy?)

Group Photo at Thunderdome Falls
L to R:  David, Andy, Darrin, Kitty, Scott, Jennifer, Me

For the return to the campsite we picked up a faint path well up the bank on River Right.  This was not quite a trail, but not quite a bushwhack either.  It was much quicker than creek walking and we returned to Three Forks with plenty of daylight left.

So we decided to explore a short ways up overflow creek.  We were on a good trail for a short way, but when that fizzled out and the going got tough we ultimately decided not to push on and returned to camp.  Here is the GPS track from our Big Creek Adventure!

GPS Track from our Adventure up Big Creek

After we returned to camp, there was still some daylight left to explore the area close to the campsite under prime photography light!

 Small Cascade across from a sandy campsite on the West Fork of the Chattooga

 The West Fork of the Chattooga River

 Scott and Darrin at a Waterfall on Holcomb Creek Right next to our Campsite

  The West Fork of the Chattooga River

 The West Fork of the Chattooga River

The rest of the evening was spent hanging out with my awesome Team Waterfall friends.  Unfortunately due to the extreme drought there is currently a ban on campfires in the area.  Therefore I will not be able to post any campfire photos.

At one point we were taking bets as to what time Spencer and Stephanie would arrive.  Jennifer guessed 10:30pm.   At exactly 10:30pm we spotted lights coming down the hillside towards Three Forks.  Shortly after Spencer, Stephanie, and Preston arrive at camp!  And the party went on for several more hours!

The Complete set of photos from Saturday is posted here:

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