Fall Asters growing near Log Hollow Falls
Asheville & Brevard Autumn Trip
Dana & Kenny Koogler
Thu. Oct. 18- Sun. Oct. 21, 2012
**This blog entry has been repaired and I have substituted videos
for photos that have been lost. **
for photos that have been lost. **
Kenny & I planned to head over to the mountains of Western NC to visit our son and see his new living quarters in Asheville and do some hiking with our friend Cathy.
We decided to do something a little different on our lodging since our daughter Crystal and son-in-law, Adam were using our camper. I first looked up hotel rooms in Asheville only to find that it is peak season over there for leaf peepers and Biltmore visitation. Hotel rooms were at a premium! I tried Brevard and found the rates lower, but still high.
Most of the places we wanted to hike were in Pisgah Forest so I booked a cabin outside the Brevard City limits for a daily rate less than a hotel room! It also allowed me a chance to head over a day ahead of Kenny to have most of the day Thursday and all day Friday to visit and hike.
I was glad to get up with Jared and see where his new housing is and visit with him.
He is doing very well. We had dinner Thursday night and sat around talking at his place.
I had checked into the cabin and found it very nice. I dropped Cathy's hiking stick off by her place and left her a note letting her know I was in town and where she could reach me. I was pleasantly surprised to find she was off work that Friday and we made plans to meet up and hike. I stayed out late enough with Jared that I was concerned about finding an open grocery store. I ended up finding an open Bi-Lo Grocery which stayed open 24 hours a day. I purchased a few groceries. Topped off my tank with gas and went back to the cabin to get some sleep.
I realized the alarm clock in the cabin did not work properly. I could not even set the time, much less the alarm. I set the alarm on my cell phone. I did not trust it to wake me because I had never used it before and my cell phone battery is failing and doesn't hold a charge well. I had my kindle with me that my mom purchased for me for my birthday.
She and my sister went together and got me a Kindle Fire and a stylus and a cover.
I am still learning about it. The cabin had free wi-fi with a good signal. I found a free bedside alarm clock app which within five minutes was set up and appeared to be working. Very cool! Thanks Mom & Valerie! I was wakened at 2 am by the malfunctioning alarm clock the cabin provided. I pulled the plug on that and went back to sleep. The kindle's alarm woke me right on schedule the next day and my cell phone worked fine also.
Cathy met me at the cabin as planned and we headed out for our day's adventure.
We started off by visiting a couple falls near the cabin neither of us had ever heard of or visited! Diamond Creek Falls and Lemon Falls! As many trips as we've done to hike in this area over the past ten years we could not believe we'd never even heard of these before! Both were nice and relatively easy to find. Diamond Creek Falls was a nice 30 foot falls right by the road. We managed to climb down the steep, slippery bank to see it. It was worth it. Next we continued out to see Lemon Falls. It was also a roadside attraction, but not in view from the road. We saw two couples while there and I don't think either of these pairs of senior citizens actually SAW the falls because they could not view it from the road. Checking it out required a clambor down the bank through a boulder field slick with leaves and moss. We forded the stream on a flat boulder partially submerged and worked our way around to the falls on the far bank. It was much easier to reach that way. Well worth the effort. Lemon Falls was only about 15 ft high but far more picturesque than Diamond Creek Falls. It was framed by rocks and rhododendron and the sun filtering through the canopy formed a rainbow in the spray!
Diamond Creek Falls
We enjoyed this glorious sight for awhile then decided to continue. Cathy wanted us to head to Panthertown for an off trail adventure. I agreed and we knew we'd have to make tracks to get it all done before dark today.
Lemon Falls with a rainbow
We headed in the direction of the western entrance of Panthertown Valley which is a wilderness area. I had been hiking here several times, but always from the other entrance. I was really looking forward to seeing a new side of it. Cathy had been prepping for this off trail adventure with KT and knew just how to get us there. She
had her map with her and was all set. She had learned of an off trail waterfall there and wanted to see if the two of us could locate it? We began our hike and I was extremely impressed with everything about this side of Panthertown. The day was perfect in temperature and weather. The Autumn colors were at peak. The granite mountains around us were impressive. We saw lots of other folks parked, but still found a spot and got started.
We hiked only a short distance until we arrived at Wilderness Falls. It was a huge waterfall with lots of water flow today coming down over a granite wall. Fiery red Autumn leaves and a blue sky really set off the scene. We stopped here to eat our lunch and take it in. Cathy had not seen it either since the previous hike she and KT by-passed this falls in favor of motoring on to a spot she needed to arrive at in a limited amount of daylight. I admit I wondered if the same thing would befall us today seeing as how we were getting late start to this portion of the hike? I knew all would be well as long as we were back on a main trail by dark. If we could do that much we'd make it out safely.
We continued our hike and in only a short distance arrived at Frolictown Falls.
It was not a huge waterfall, but very pretty. Cathy had seen this one before.
Frolictown Falls is about 20 ft high.
We passed a neat backpacker shelter just past Frolictown Falls.
The trail we were on now was called the Great Wall trail. I had never even heard of this feature in Panthertown. Cathy & KT had hiked it in May and while she was aware of the name of the trail she did not think much about why it was called that. Today we were amazed at the sight of a truly great granite wall towering high above all else to our left. The leaves were off the trees now enough to allow it to be seen. A stark gray granite mountain wall highlighted by red leaves is very pretty! I took a photo of it, but no picture could ever do it justice. It goes on for a long distance.
The Great Wall in Autumn.**photo lost**
The trail we were hiking on was mostly level now as it crossed the valley floor. It was sandy and easy and passed through a beautiful forest that smelled so good of pine trees and fallen leaves. Down in the very bottom of the valley all the leaves had fallen off the trees as they were primarily birch and beech. We arrived at the point Cathy and KT scouted where the trail came to a junction at a wide bend and turned uphill. We stopped for a bit to check the map and get oriented for our off trail portion of the trek. I told Cathy the according to the scale of miles on the map Panthertown Falls should be less than 1/2 mile from our current position. It was marked on the map, but there was no trail to it. This was Burt Kornegay's map so I knew in order for it to be marked on the map, but no trail was a good indication of how things were going to be. We'd have to make our own way, but this should not be nearly as bad as many other off trail trips we'd taken.
I told Cathy I figured it would take is 1/2 hour or less and that if we walked for one hour even in the brush without finding it we'd turn around and get back on the trail.
We set out and the first part of our off trail we had to make our own way completely. We went through briars and rhodo and brush. Then about half way there I spotted some survey tape flagging. We pressed on forward and a manway began to be visible and as we followed it the survey tape kept showing up. We could hear a falls below us and sure enough there was Panthertown Falls. We passed it and kept following the survey tape and it lead us to a huge dead hemlock tree then stopped. No more manway. No more tape. We turned around and went back to the falls and worked our way down to the stream to the falls to get a better look.
Panthertown Falls in Panthertown Valley.. an off trail adventure.
Panthertown Falls is only 10 or 15 feet high, but the setting for it is very rugged and dramatic. More cascades are below it. Above it is a huge rock grotto. In order to visit here you must climb through the rhododendron that hems it in and a boulder field. We spent some time checking it out and glorying in the fact we were successful in locating it! We really had no trouble. We made our way back to the maintained trail. This time we stayed higher in the drainage and it was even easier. We found we came out on the trail higher up the hill and that the flagging actually went the entire way! We made our way back toward the trail head and the vehicle. We decided that we'd head into Brevard to get some Barbeque as a reward for our day. The hike out was far easier than I'd expected.
Thank the good Lord for the South and switchbacks! Once back at the trail head I stopped to look at that big map with Cathy. We had hiked about nine miles today!
I had been such fun that it flew by and was a breeze most of the way.
The drive out of the mountains atop Panthertown was an experience in itself. There is no capturing the red gold glow with a photo or a video recording. You just have to be there.
The views and the light atop that mountain were outstanding. I look forward to many more hikes in Panthertown. I want me and Cathy to go backpacking there this coming Spring! We made it to Hawg Wild BBQ in Brevard and ate a delicious supper in a relaxed setting. We were both tired and so we parted company to go get some rest. We planned to get together the next day to hike again with Kenny joining us.
I had almost arrived at the cabin when I heard from Kenny. He was already there waiting on me. The cabin I rented was fine for me, but it was tiny! It was comfortable but small. It was also a long drive from everything. We had a fit laughing at the tiny sleeping loft "upstairs". We also had fun struggling to get the trundle bed trundled. The corners were supposed to hook together, but that never happened. The more we struggled with it the funnier it got. We finally got the darn thing fixed and went to sleep so we'd be ready for the next day.
We had a little romance the next morning to start the day off and to use Kenny's words....... That trundle bed in all its instability was a "wild ride". We found it funny.
We had a quick breakfast and met Cathy to hike. We figured we'd hike to some of the waterfalls in the Pisgah Forest area. I had picked out Twin Falls on Henry Branch and so off we went. I knew the trail was supposed to be confusing and so it was great that Cathy was with us and had hiked it before. It was a popular trail and we saw lots of other campers and hikers on the way there and while on the trail. Cathy wanted to test us and said she'd have me and Kenny pick out the way and would only interfere if we got it wrong.
We did fine finding the way. The majority of the crossings were bridged and all the wet foot crossings had good bridges. We worked our way through a forest filled with oranges, reds, golden, bronze, maroon, brown and yellow leaves. It was a lovely hike.
We arrived at the left fork waterfall and for a headwaters falls there was a good amount of flow! The left branch falls was about eighty feet high and so beautiful! The Autumn colors were perfect under that bright blue sky. The temperatures were perfect for hiking.
It was about 65 degrees today. We continued over to the right fork falls which was nearby. It was about sixty feet high and also very pretty. The colors surrounding this falls were mainly golden and yellow. It was not quite as picturesque as the left falls, but still pretty. Well worth the trek to see both of them.
We hiked back and stopped off at the waterfall on Avery Creek. It was ten or fifteen feet high. The colors around it and the clear sparkling plunge pool made it an ideal setting.
This would be a great swimming spot in Summer! The rocks were carved up into interesting shapes and swirled with colors. There are some cascades above the falls too.
Left Fork Henry Branch Falls
Waterfall on Avery Creek
We continued our hike today after lunch by hiking to one of the waterfalls on Log Hollow. It was beautiful.
First waterfall on Log Hollow
We headed back and said our goodbyes to Cathy. We were all tired. Kenny and I needed to go spend some time with Jared. We met him for some shopping and dinner in Asheville. It was a very nice evening.
Sunday morning we opted to drive home. We had a nice leisurely breakfast at Cracker Barrel and enjoyed the drive home through the gorge with all the pretty Fall colors.
Looking Glass Rock viewed from FR 475B.