Wednesday, May 31, 2017

2017-05-27 Linville Gorge Wilderness Rock Jock Hike

Linville Gorge Wilderness Area
Rock Jock Hike with Matt and Kitty
Burke County, NC
  Sunshine Trail, Rock Jock Trail, Zen Point, Zen Falls, Razors Edge, Razors Edge Falls, The Gnomes Crack, Razors Edge Point, Sunshine Point, T-Shirt Point, Mossy Canyon Falls
Saturday, May 27th, 2017

 Linville Gorge Panorama from Sunshine Point

Matt, Kitty, and I got together for a hike along the Rock Jock Trail in the Linville Gorge Wilderness area of North Carolina.

The Linville Gorge is one of the most rugged hiking destinations in the Carolinas!  We were at it for over 7 hours and only hiked about 5 miles!  Of course we did spend a lot of time photographing and soaking up the amazing views!
GPS Track of our Hike

Here are a few photos from our adventure!

view of the Razors Edge from Zen Point

 On the Razors Edge

Kitty and Matt

Razors Edge Point

view from Razors Edge Point

 Lots of Mountain Laurel Blooming

 Kitty on Sunshine Point

Cell Phone Selfie

 Soaring above the gorge

 Matt and Kitty

 Lizard along the trail

Kitty taking a nap near the end of our hike

 Blooms along the trail

The Southern Terminus of the Rock Jock Trail

The complete set of photos is posted here:

Friday, May 26, 2017

2017-05-20 Bear Creek Lake Kayak Camping Weekend - Day 2

Bear Creek Lake Kayak Camping Weekend

A Team Waterfall Adventure

Jackson County, NC

Day 2

Saturday, May 20th, 2017
Bear Creek Lake, Party Island, Flat Creek Falls, Robinson Creek, Verdae Falls, 
Tuckasegee River Gorge, Bonas Defeat

Bob, Darrin, Me, Christy, and Andy

I was awake before any signs or sounds of stirring from Andy or Christy, so I decide to start the day with a little paddle around the island.

 Party Island on Bear Creek Lake

 Morning Fog over Bear Creek Lake from Party Island

I also wanted to hit Flat Creek Falls before the sun rose above the ridge.  The "trailhead" for Flat Creek falls is less than a 5 minute paddle from Party Island, and the hike is about a mile (each way).  There is no official trail, but for the most part if you know where you are going you can pick up some obvious paths most of the way.

Flat Creek Falls is one of the most impressive waterfalls anywhere!  Unfortunately I was a few minutes too late and the sun was already lighting up the top section of the waterfall causing less than optimal photo conditions.

Flat Creek Falls

When I returned to the campsite Andy and Christy were finally awake.  Andy was going to paddle back to the boat ramp/parking area to fetch some more beer!   Bob and Darrin were not expected for another couple of hours.  So I decided to go on another paddle/hike to Verdae Falls on Robinson Creek.

The mouth of Robinson Creek is about a 15 minute paddle from Party Island.  From there it is a short creek walk upstream to this small but scenic waterfall.

Verdae Falls on Robinson Creek

 Cascasdes along Robinson Creek

Soon after I returned to party Island, Darrin and Bob had arrived.  Andy returned a short time after.

 Darrin (aka The Salmon) testing out the island's rope swing

After Darrin finished testing out the island's rope swing, the five of us decided to spend the afternoon exploring the Tuckasegee River Gorge (aka Bonas Defeat).  This place has been on my to do list for years, but have never made it there until now!

From Party Island it is about an hour paddle to get to the mouth of the Tuckasegee River
Andy paddling by the first "Welcome Team Waterfall" Sign


Where did the name Bonas Defeat Come from?

Legend has it that an old hunting dog, named Bonas, had been trained by its master to run game off the rock face causing the game to fall of the cliff deep into the gorge creating easy meat for the master.

However, one day a smart buck caused the dog Bonas's death (aka defeat) when he stepped away as the dog chased him causing Bonas to take the plunge that he had caused so many of his hunting prey to take prior to his own demise.

One very important note:  Make sure you check the Duke Energy Dam Release Schedules and do not head into this area if there is a release scheduled of if there is any chance of a flash flood!  As the signs say, the Tuckasegee River Gorge is used as flood control by Duke Energy.

 Bob by another "Welcome Team Waterfall" Sign

We did do our research and found no dam releases scheduled for the day and any potential flash flood causing rains were not expected until much later in the evening.  Plus we were only planning on exploring a very short section of the gorge.

Mountain Laurel

 Andy geared up and ready to go!

We didn't go very far, but what we saw was awesome and we had a great time playing around and exploring this amazing gorge!

 Team Waterfall hanging out at Bonas Defeat

Team Waterfall

Darrin "The Salmon" takes flight

 Andy and Darrin checking out the slot canyon

Bob on the Rocks

Darrin and Bob

 Exiting Bonas Defeat

I was very pleased that I finally got to experience Bonas Defeat, but I would definitely like to make a return visit for a full day exploration of the entire gorge!

Christy and Bob paddling back to Party Island from Bonas Defeat

The paddle back was uneventful and we all built up a thirst for the FABs (Frosty Adult Beverages) that were waiting for us back at Party Island.  A very enjoyable evening was had by everyone!

Darrin, Christy, and Andy hanging out at our Party Island Campsite
Sunset over Bear Creek Lake from Party Island

Darrin photographing the Sunset

Bob, Darrin, Me, Christy, and Andy

Christy and Andy

Sometime after my camera was packed away for the weekend, Spencer and Carlos arrived at Party Island and the Team Waterfall celebration continued long into the night.  Thanks to Bob's BAT (Big Ass Tarp), even the rain did not dampen our spirits.

The next morning I awoke to a steady rain.  The one thing worse than packing up camping gear in the rain, is having to load it onto a Kayak, Paddle for an hour to the boat ramp, load all the wet gear into your vehicle, and then have to load and tie down your Kayak to the Roof Rack. 

I had though about doing a few other short adventures on Sunday Morning, but I decided to pass on those plans due to the rain.  In fact, my camera never exiting my dry bag since I packed it away Saturday night!

Despite the rain, it was a very enjoyable Team Waterfall Weekend!

The Complete set of photos from Day 2 are posted here:

And if you missed Day 1, those are posted here:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017-05-19 Bear Creek Lake - Day 1

Bear Creek Lake Kayak Camping Weekend
A Team Waterfall Adventure
Jackson County, NC
Day 1
Friday, May 19th, 2017

Andy and Me at Sols Creek Falls

Party Island on Bear Creek Lake is one of the coolest camping spots I have ever had the pleasure of pitching a tent on!  So when Andy threw out the date for a return visit, I inked it onto my calendar!

The only problem with Party Island is that you can not reserve it.  So if another group  beats you to it, you are out of luck and the backup options are far less appealing.

So I volunteered to take the day off from work on Friday to try to snag the island before the weekend crowds arrive on the lake.

The Bushwhack Jack Kayak loaded up and ready to go!

The paddle out to the Island takes about and hour (at a very leasurely pace)!   An experienced Kayker with a higher quality Kayak could probably do it in half that time.    I also prefer to take my time and hug the shoreline to get as much shade as possible which adds a little bit of distance.

I was very pleased to find the Island empty of inhabitants.  So I staked my claim and declared the Island as Team Waterfall's for the weekend!

 Party Island on Bear Creek Lake

I was also happy to see that the previous inhabitants left a good supply of firewood!  For car camping, I will load up the truck with as much firewood as needed, but I just do not have room on my Kayak to strap on any wood!

After unloading my gear and setting up my tent, I was going to go out for another paddle. 

However, the skies darkened up and thunder started booming in the distance.  It wasn't long before a deluge of rain hit the island!  So I escaped into my tent to lay down and wait out the storm!  Fortunately the heavy rain only lasted for about 20 minutes.

About 45 minutes after the rain stopped, I spotted Andy and Christy rounding the corner of the final stretch of the paddle towards Party Island.

Christy and Andy on the final stretch towards Party Island

I offered up a hand in unloading their gear and helped them get settled onto our island home for the weekend.  After getting set up, Christy was content to hop into her Hammock and relax for a while, but Andy and I had other plans!

 Christy relaxing in her Hammock on Party Island

Andy and I decided to go for a little paddle/hike to Sols Creek Falls!

From Party Island it is about a 15 minute Paddle followed by a 15 minute hike to the Spectacular Sols Creek Falls!  Add in some photography time, and it is about a 2 hour round trip mini-adventure!

 Andy paddling towards Sols Creek Falls

 First view of Sols Creek Falls from the Lake

Sols Creek Falls
 Andy photographing Sols Creek Falls

 Sols Creek Falls

We returned to the Island in time for a nice sunset followed by a very enjoyable evening around the campfire!

 Sunset from Party Island

 Sunset from Party Island

 Andy and Christy
A Glimpse into the Future!

 Evening Twilight from Party Island

 Andy photographing the Evening Twilight

Cool Clouds above Bear Creek Lake

Christy relaxing in her Hammock by the Campfire

 Me, Andy, and Christy hanging out around the campfire

The complete set of photos from Day 1 of our Bear Creek Lake Kayak Camping weekend is posted here:

To be Continued
Day 2 coming soon!