Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017-02-11 Team Waterfall Adventure

Another Awesome Team Waterfall Adventure
Portage Left Falls,  Norm's El Grande Falls
Devil's Courthouse, and Whiteside Mountain
Jackson, Macon, and Transylvania County, NC
Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Saturday's Team Waterfall Adventure started with a warm-up hike up the Whitewater River to Portage Left Falls.  Joining me would be would be Andy, Boone, Darrin, Bob, and Jennifer.

 Group Photo at Portage Left Falls on the Whitewater River
L to R:  Bob, Darrin, Me, Jennifer, Andy, and Boone

My two previous visits to Portage Left Falls found it cluttered with deadfall.  I was eager to make a return visit after hearing reports that the deadfall has since been washed clear of the waterfall during a recent flash flood.

Starting from where the Whitewater River flows under NC281, we began our hike upstream.  I didn't record a GPS track, but I would estimate it to be a little over a mile to the falls.  There is no official trail, but if you head up river left (the right side of the river when going upstream), you should be able to pick up some unofficial trails that take you most of the way.

The rumors were correct!  Portage Left Falls was mostly clear of deadfall!

Portage Left Falls on the Whitewater River

Portage Left Falls on the Whitewater River

Portage Left Falls on the Whitewater River

Portage Left Falls on the Whitewater River

We spent about a half hour at the falls before returning back the same way we came.

Jennifer was only able to make the morning hike.  However Scott (the Professor), Dillon, and Blizzy were able to join us for the afternoon phase of our Team Waterfall Adventure!

The second part of our Team Waterfall Adventure would begin at the Whiteside Mountain Parking Area between Cashiers and Highlands, NC.  This is a very popular tourist spot and with unseasonably warm temperatures the parking area was overflowing!

After paying our $2.00 each and getting a little creative with where we parked our vehicles we quickly left the crowds and headed off trail in search of Norm's El Grande Falls.

With some rough directions and a few waypoints from Waterfall Rich, we had no problems working our way down to Norm's El Grande!

 Norm's El Grande Falls

This one is much more impressive in person!  It really needs a good bit more water to really be photo worthy!  However, even without much flow, it is still a cool spot that not too many people will ever get to!

Boone at Norm's El Grande Falls

We continued our exploration off the main tourist trails and found one more waterfall on a tributary stream that we were not expecting to find.  This one is not the greatest photo subject either, but still a nice little bonus.

A surprise waterfall we stumbled upon

Next up we would begin our climb up to the Devil's Courthouse.  Note:  this is the Whiteside Mountain Devil's Courthouse.  The more well known Devil's Courthouse off the Blue Ridge Parkway is a completely different spot!

Devil's Courthouse Panorama

View from the Devil's Courthouse

 View from the Devi's Courthouse

My Team Waterfall Buddies on the Devil's Courthouse Helipad
L to R:  Andy, Dillon, Darrin, Scott, Bob

After a nice break on Devil's Courthouse, we continued our climb up to the official Whiteside Mountain Trail.  Bob and Darrin decided to head back, but Andy, Scott, Dillon and I had a few more spots we wanted to check out.  First up would be an outcrop that Dillon "discovered" a few years ago!

This spot offered up the best view of Whiteside Mountain that I have ever seen!

 The Professor shows off the view from Dillon's Outcrop

 Andy and Boone

 Dillon gets some Tongue Action from Blizzy

View from Dillon's Outcrop

 The professor hanging out on Dillon's Outcrop

We continued on and hit the tourist trail for a while before checking out a few more spots off trail.  Scott and I headed out on a rock outcrop above what is known as The Nose, while Andy, Dillon, and the Dogs went down to a lower outcrop.   The result was my favorite shots of the day by Dillon and Andy!

Bushwhack Jack (me) and the Professor (Scott) above The Nose of Whiteside Mountain
Photo by Dillon Senn

Bushwhack Jack and the Professor attempt to strike the Gnome Pose above the Nose
Photo by Andy Kunkle

My photo looking down at Andy and Dillon is nowhere near as impressive!

The Professor above the nose of Whiteside Mountain

View from Whiteside Mountain shortly before sunset

We returned down to the parking area via the main trail. 
Here is the GPS track from our Norm's El Grande, Devil's Courthouse, Whiteside Mountain hike:

After our hike we stopped for a nice dinner and a beer at The Ugly Dog Pub (a Bushwhack Jack approved spot for after hike grub)!

It was well after dark by the time Andy, Scott and I set up camp in the Blue Valley area of North Carolina alongside the East Fork of Overflow Creek!  What followed was a very enjoyable evening around the campfire with quickly forgotten stories and everlasting memories!

Andy, Me, and Scott hanging out around the campfire

Our Campsite the next Morning

The complete set of photos from our Team Waterfall Adventure is posted here:

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