Part of a cascade at Wheeler Falls
Cleaning Up the List--Attempting to Reach the Base of Perry's Branch Falls
Saturday December 11, 2015
Hike distance 4 miles approx.
Pictures are here starting with frame 224
Kenny had to work Saturday so I went ahead and made plans with our friend Jay Walker.
I wanted to get out and hike. I knew if Kenny ended up being off he could just join in with us.
I also had been telling Jay I'd make sure he got round to see the arch at the Wheeler farm and the
Sinking Falls behind it. I'd been wanting to get to the base of Perry's Branch Falls. I decided since he was agreeable we'd clean up some of that stuff off the list. He is a great friend who is easy going.
I met him over at the split in the highway since he drives from McMinnville. I found it is a little longer distance wise, but an easier drive to that area if I just stay on I-40 and go down from Cookeville. Plus there are gas stations, places to eat, and the services you might need on a long day trip. I met Jay and we headed down to a subdivision in the area that has a 25 foot waterfall.
My GPS navigation system "Babala" (she's hot!) was NOT hot today. She tried to take us down someone's dirt driveway through their gate and consequently we didn't make it to that waterfall.
I did not want to waste time fooling around so we ditched that idea and moved on.
The next closest thing was Little Falls which is out in the area of Turkey Scratch.
We went in via Turkey Scratch Road which is the way we went before. It is the "publicly accessible" trail head to this falls. We arrived there to find a miserable mess of logging, vehicles that looked like hunters parking, and tons of posted no trespassing signs! I could tell Jay wasn't comfortable with that so rather than mess with that we moved on yet again. Down Turkey Scratch Road toward our next destination. It is a rough road that is winding, steep and not too fun for some folks.
It brought us out on Cummingsville Highway right near our next stop. I turned onto Owl Hole Road and splashed us through the creek and put her in four wheel drive soon after.
I had directions from Bryan Taylor on how to reach Perry's Branch Falls from the base.
We found the gate and parked and grabbed our gear to go. I had been to Perry's Branch from the top of the falls and could have taken us right to that, but I wanted to see it from another angle.
Jay had never been at all so he just wanted to see it period. We went back there and I got following the GPS unit and it suddenly decided I needed to head back east. So we struck back out through the forest in the direction it was pointing. We were now following a creek bed which was part of Bryan's instructions. I felt confident now we'd find it. We slipped and slid and slowly worked our way up the holler. Back and forth across the stream depending on which side would allow us to walk with more ease. I noticed the GPS was telling me we were getting closer and closer. Then it started telling me we were farther away?! I thought screw it and put it up and just went ahead.
It wasn't too long until we got a glimpse of a 60 foot high waterfall coming over a bluff. I believed
at first we had found it. Then something about it began to bother me. I got the GPS out and checked it. It was telling me we were not there yet. It had acted so weird I was not going to fret with it.
It came to be named Two Hog Falls
Jay began taking photos. It was really a beautiful falls with plenty of water. I remarked to him at first that I was surprised there was not a bit more water than even this after all the rain we've had? I continued to study the falls and the terrain. I finally had to admit we were not at Perry's Branch Falls, but one nearby it. It was a previously undocumented falls on an un-named creek. It is the same size and basic shape even. I share with Jay what I believed was happening and asked him what he wanted to do. He is not real accustomed to off trail hiking and I just felt like we'd best finish this one and get on with the next thing rather than spend all day in there messing with trying to sort it out. We moved closer to the waterfall and he pointed out that there was a rainbow in the waterfall! It was just too pretty. We stood there in the spray from the falls enjoying the beauty of the rainbow and the waterfall. Jay says "Dana! Look!" and points behind the falls. Damn. Two... two .. two big ole hogs! Actually it was two sows and two litters of piggies. Russian wild boars is what they looked like to start, but later scrutiny showed they are a mix of escaped tame hogs crossed with Russian hogs. Jay had never seen them before in the wild. I have encountered them numerous times.
Rainbow in the falls. Trotters and rainbows kinda day!
Once we got back to the jeep we were hungry, but decided to wait until we got up the road.
Our next stop was Wheeler Farm loop. We sat on a boulder there in the parking area and had lunch.
We saw a jeep there with an archery emblem. I thought while I did not believe there would really be any hunting down there it might be safer to put on some blaze orange vests. We donned those real quickly before we headed down. We had both been here before several times. We hiked the loop clockwise. First stop was the arch.
Jay pondering the terrain
I had an upsetting experience here for part of this trip. Jay was very supportive and gracious to me about it. I experienced a really bad episode of whatever symptoms linger from Miller Fisher syndrome. My proprioception was totally out of whack. The deep bowls and cliffs back in there were messing with me. I got through it, but I was glad to get my feet back on level ground.
The earth was soft and mushy from the rain. We had to climb around the edges of things and go up and down steep slopes. It was a muddy mess. We got down in the bowl that holds Sinking Falls at its edge. It was beautiful, but the basin below it instead of being green and rocky and mossy was a disgusting mess. It was coated with a slick layer of mud, silt and leaves. Not easy today. I got myself in a predicament and decided that while I did not want to get that muddy I wanted even less to get injured. I sat down on my booty and just let go and slid safely to the bottom. It was fun, but it was gross. Survivable though.
Jay could see I was not feeling too great. My anxiety level was immense. I told him I wanted to sit down and cry, but I knew that wasn't going to solve it. My head was absolutely buzzing with sensory overload from trying to make sense of my body position and the sound of the falls. We finally climbed back out of there and boy was I glad. I leaned my forehead against a tree once we were on level ground. I closed my eyes and just wanted to be still. Once we were out of there and I had a normal horizon line to view and more or less level ground beneath my feet I was ok again.
We walked over to see Cane Creek. I had never seen water in it until today. It was really something! Walking around in there today showed me the foolishness of the idea of thinking I'd get to the base of Piney Falls this way. It could be done, but boys howdy it would be a long , tough hike.
Cane Creek flowing today.
We closed the loop and ended up at Wheeler Falls on our way. It was very pretty.
I got some pretty images behind the falls today.
We trudged back up out of there. Conversation with a friend makes a steep hike seem not so bad. We talked and laughed. Jay is a good companion because he's like me. Sometimes he has plenty to say. Other times he just likes to be quiet. I'm ok with not filling up every second with talk if I don't have anything good to say.
We had pretty good day and had us some odd, unexpected adventures. A new waterfall which I submitted to the Tennessee landforms database under both our names as finders.
I wonder now if Bryan Taylor was ever at the real Perry's Branch Falls or if he was at this one?
Perry's Branch has a cave and he is a caver so I expect it was the real one.
I'm gonna quiz him though. You know I will. I followed the creek bed just like you say. What have went wrong?
Below is a short video of the various aspects of Wheeler Falls.