Thursday, April 5, 2018

2018-03-30 Fulfillment Falls and Sassafras Mountain

Fulfillment Falls and Sassafras Mountain
Nantahala National Forest Game Lands
Transylvania and Jackson County, NC
with Brenda and Mark
Friday, March 30th, 2018

Me, Mark, and Brenda on Sassafras Mountain

I had a day off from work for Good Friday so I decided to get together with Brenda and Mark to make an attempt at one of the more inaccessible North Carolina Waterfalls.

Although Fulfillment Falls is located on public land, it is almost impossible to reach without crossing private property.  Brenda spent a good bit of time planning out a route which would hopefully avoid any blatant trespassing.

While we didn't run across any No Tresspassing Signs, our GPS track did end up crossing a little bit of private property and therefore I am not going to post the track.

At about -40 degrees it was just bit chilly starting out.

Handy thermometer along the "trail"

Actually, it was a beautiful day for hiking with temperatures in the 60s most of the day.

The first part of our hike was actually on a trail that headed up Sassafras Mountain.  While our ultimate goal was Fulfillment Falls, the views from Sassafras Mountain were the highlight of the day!

Here are some shots from various viewpoints along Sassafras Mountain.

Me at the first Sassafras Mountain view

 view from Sassafras Mountain

Mark, Brenda, and Me on Sassafras Mountain

 Brenda hiking up Sassafras Mountain

Sassafras Mountain Group Selfie by Mark

Mark hiking Sassafras Mountain

 view from Sassafras Mountain

view from Sassafras Mountain

 view from Sassafras Mountain

view from Sassafras Mountain

 view of Whiteside Mountain from Sassafras Mountain

From the Sassafras Mountain Summit to the base of Fulfillment Falls there would no longer be a trail to follow.  It would be all bushwhacking from here!

Brenda and Mark bushwhacking down Sassafras Mountain

We had hoped to pick up some old logging roads that show up on some of the older topo maps.  We did find some evidence of these roads.  However over the past 50 years or so, the forest has taken over these roads making them useless.  Most of the time it was easier just to bushwhack via the path of least resistance than to try to follow these old road grades.

The climb up Sassafras Mountain was about 1,200 feet in elevation and we would have to descend down about 800 feet to the base of fulfillment falls.  On top of that the bushwhacking was really wearing Brenda out!  She decided she didn't have enough gas left in her tank to make it all the way to Fulfillment Falls and still have the energy for the hike out.

So Brenda decided to take a nap while Mark and I continued on!  The bushwhacking did not get any easier, but we eventually did make it to Fulfillment Falls!

 Fulfillment Falls

 Fulfillment Falls

 Mark at Fulfillment Falls

 Side view of Fulfillment Falls

We didn't linger long since it took longer than we were planning to get here and we wanted to get back to Brenda as soon as possible.  We did find a much quicker route out and were able to find Brenda right where we left her.

As much as we all would have liked Brenda to make it all the way, we all agreed it was the right decision for her to hang back and rest.  We still had a long hike ahead of us.

Near the summit of Sassafras, we decided to try an alternate route back following a different "trail".  This route proved to be shorter, but probably not any quicker.  It was well blazed but not really a trail.  I would call it a blazed bushwhack!  However, it did get us to where we wanted to go and gave us one more viewpoint that we didn't have on the hike up!

 View from Sassafras Mountain on the hike down

Brenda and Mark

This was one of those hikes were we barely managed to average above 1 mph.

After 9 hours, 10 miles, 2300 feet of elevation gain, 2300 feet descent we were no longer concerned about trying to circumvent around the church camp near where we parked our vehicles!

Church Camp near where we parked our vehicles

This wasn't just Good Friday!
It was a Great Friday! 

The complete set of photos is posted here:

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