Saturday, August 8, 2015

Alarka Falls with Friends

Carolina lily with pipe vine swallowtail

Alarka Falls with Friends

Thursday August 6, 2015

Dana Koogler
Linda Francis
Pat Serio

   I had wanted for some time to show my friends around one of my most special places.
I invited Linda and Pat to go with me to Alarka, and they accepted.    We planned to meet up at my house and car pool from there.    Pat graciously prepared homemade chicken salad and potato salad.
Linda made trail bars from scratch.  We had fruit and pita chips and hummus and sweet tea.
The ride over while long, seemed short thanks to the laughter and pleasant, rich conversation.

         We started off at Alarka at the base of the falls. We had our picnic lunch and savored that.
Once we had our mess picked up we hit the trail.  It is nice to report the litter at the trail head was minimal, but I still picked up what I found.   It is also nice to report that there is now an actual trail 
to the main drop of the falls!  It is in pretty good condition. Still slippery and rocky in places, but better than previous means of getting there.  We had a brief rain shower and had to don our rain gear.
It let up and we did not leave them on long as it was hot wearing plastic. 

        The weather was overcast with periods of sun breaking through.  It was nice and cool compared to the flat lands.    I can also say for certain that the trail I was on last week that is unmarked DOES for sure come out down here at this parking area.  I also solved the mystery of the huge map error on the TI Nantahala National Forest Map.   It shows it is possible to go from the base of the falls to the top via a road.  It is shown that way because it USED to be possible to do so.  What I am now calling a trail along the Cold Spring Branch drainage to the west of the falls was a 4WD access road that
is now gated and used as a trail.   It would bring you out along Conleys Creek Road, but it will not
take you to the top of the falls. 

           We enjoyed the falls. Plenty of water coming over today.  They seemed to find it as pretty as I did.   It is truly impossible to see all the drops of the falls as it is two hundred feet worth of waterfall.
It is such rugged terrain that going up or down is tough and there is no trail except to the beginning of the top part and to the base with nothing between.


       Alarka Falls from the base.. the main drop

Below is a short video of the falls

         We hiked back out and had to take our time because of the wet rocks which were greasy slick.
We drove back round to the express way and went round to the top part.  We wanted to check out the Summer wildflowers at Big Laurel.   I also did pick up some more trash,but not all of it. Some had already been picked up by me the previous week and some was picked up by someone else.
We hiked various parts of the trails to get these ladies a sampling of what is here.  My camera messed up and so I did not take photos after we got up there.  I was the wildflower trail guide. It turned out to be a minor problem thankfully.  My battery charger malfunctioned and did not charge the batteries. It lied to me and green lighted saying it had finished. I was relieved to find that it was not the camera.
I have since gotten the problem solved and all is well.  I will keep an eye on the battery charger and if it happens again I will do away with it.  

         I had a good time and we all had fun.  We were the only hikers on the trails all day.
We saw one other vehicle up top.  Guys in a jeep.   It was a long day and we did not get home until very late.  I appreciate my friends spending time with me and sharing this special place.

Linda asked me if there was a guide for this place.  I told her there is not unless you count Kevin Adam's book which gives directions to the base of the falls .  I have decided to create a map and
a guide that will describe the trail system.   I have also decided to shoot a video that starts in the headwaters of the creek and goes down the entire falls.   Like I told someone yesterday...
I'm bracing myself cause this is gonna hurt.  ;-D

     No trail into at least one portion of the headwaters.  No trail down the falls.


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