Monday, September 8, 2014

Alarka Falls Hike--Take it from the Top!

Great blue lobelia at Alarka

Alarka Falls Hike--Take it from the Top!

Dana Koogler 
Cathy Howell

Saturday Sept. 6, 2014

Approx hike distance 3 miles round trip

Pictures are here:Alarka Pix Start with frame 295

    Cathy came over to our house for the weekend.  We had originally discussed hiking
to see the waterfalls along Raven Fork and Enloe Creek.   It was going to be a nine mile round trip hike with some side trips off trail to see a total of four waterfalls.   During dinner Friday evening
we talked it over further. I mentioned another couple choices including Fall Branch Falls off the Cherohala Skyway which she had not seen.  I also mentioned Alarka Falls and Waterrock Knob
combo which was all new to her.   She picked that. I figured it was time for us to do a shorter hike
and a little easier compared to some we've gotten into lately.   

       We did not discuss a start time or set alarms on Friday night so we got a late start.
We did not get out of the house until 10 am or so.  We finally got on the trail about 11:30 a.m.
She was offered a choice of hiking to it from the bottom which is a long drive followed by almost no hiking versus top down .. long drive followed by a moderate hike with a hard off trail portion.
She picked top down.  So we took our lunch and gear with us and hit the trail.  I knew the hike in would be beautiful and easy. I also knew that since this was my first time hiking here after having 
contracted Miller Fisher Syndrome and recovering., that the off trail part might be tougher than usual for me.   Going down is always worse for me than climbing up.  The drive today was gorgeous
and went without any problems. Our weather was overcast and warm, but not hot.  Always cooler
up high in the mountains. It had rained the night before. 

       We saw plenty of late Summer wildflowers.  The weeds and brushy wildflowers were higher
than our heads in places.  The path was traveled, but less groomed than I'd seen previously.
We saw burned areas that looked like either there had been a wild fire or some controlled burning had been done in a couple places along the hike. 

Here is part of the trail with a lone Appalachian sunflower peeping out.   Saw lots of these today.

Another view of the "trail" such as it is. When I see things like this I think of the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

The way is shut.
It was made by those who are Dead.
And the Dead keep it.
The way is shut.~~ Dead Men of Dunharrow 

Until the time comes.
The last line is often left out.  But the "time came" for me and the way opened. 

Nearer to the top of the falls. Not the tip top, but close to it.

Middle portion of the falls.

Bottom portion .. this is the main part of Alarka Falls.

     We made it to the top of the falls and sat down to eat lunch.  It was not a real comfortable place to eat, but it was passable.   We were by the very tip top of the falls at a little homemade overlook.
We finished lunch and climbed down the mountain bit by bit.  We were very careful. It made me so nervous I wanted to turn around and quit. We discussed just going back up and getting the jeep and driving round to the other end to see the rest of it.  I kept looking around and managed to calm down and we continued.
I was glad we made it down all the way to see the main portion of the falls without having to go all the way around.   We climbed back up and that went easier than the trip down. I was very dirt and smelly from sweating, slipping and sliding.   The falls was beautiful, but by the time I got back to the top I was ready to
heave my beets I was so nervous.   We made errors in wayfinding on the trip down. We made errors in wayfinding on the way up.  We made it despite all of it.   It upset me so bad I wonder if I will ever try
going down this muthah again?   Part of what had me so torn up was the thunder and threatening rain.
That coupled with the roar of the falls. The difficulty of the task. The slipperiness of the terrain.
I was hot and uncomfortable in every way.   First really negative experience there.

   I was very glad to get back on the real trail.   We hiked out.  Cathy liked it and I was very glad.
I will go back and commune here again with nature. I need to return and have a more positive, less scary experience.  We did not see any snakes or bees today. We did not get rained on.  Seeing all the remmants of  beautiful Summer flowers I did not make it over to see earlier this year when they were in season made me disappointed in myself.    I still want to have the experience of hiking here in snow!  Maybe that will happen this Winter?

Spruce trees in their glory.  I'd like to see them in Winter snow.

Above is a short video of the main drop of Alarka Falls. On the playlist there are two more videos
from this trip. The top and the middle.  It was beautiful despite the difficulties.


  1. I looked that up on my map. I have a ton of NC waterfall waypoints. Just gotta get to them lol! This looked like a lot more than an hour and a half drive. You didn't break any speed limits did ya HA HA! If you decide to go back sometime y'all let me know. I might just want to tag along. You think it could be done in the winter? Bet it would be real pretty.

  2. Mike the drive was almost exactly 2 hrs from my house to the trailhead.
    That is at normal speeds and not getting hung up in traffic. I won't go back without you. OR rope... lots of rope and some nerve pills! LOL It would be pretty in Winter. Do not try to take that car of yours up to the top. the road turns to peanut butter in Winter.


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