Monday, March 21, 2016

Alarka Headwaters-- Trying to Wrap Things Up.......And Failing

Alarka Headwaters--Trying to Wrap Things Up Unsuccessfully

Dana Koogler 

Saturday March 12, 2016

   I had decided to turn off social media for awhile.  I wanted to clear my head of wrong notions.
I wanted to clear my desk of unfinished projects.   One of the things I needed to do was get back over to Alarka Laurel before the weather got too warm.  I wanted to bushwhack into the headwaters to check for any additional cascades that might be there. I wanted to get video footage of whatever I found regardless. I was going to put the finishing touches on a movie
of the stream from the headwaters to the base of the falls.  I was going to put the finishing touches on a guidebook I had written about the area.   I wanted to go before it got too hot and snakey and while the stream volumes were high.

           I planned to go do that and I got all prepared to check out four locations in the headwaters.   I would do that.  I would swing round to the area near the base of the falls.
There is supposed to be a nice waterfall on a nearby stream. I had worn out going to Alarka Falls, but I figured I'd reward myself by hunting up something different. I did find photos of the falls and proved to myself that it does exist and it is a significant sized falls and very pretty.
Plan A--Headwaters  Plan B--un-visited waterfall Plan C-- Wrights Creek Falls 

       I went up to the top first to get the headwaters thing over with first.  At least that is what I tried to do.  I got a nasty suprise in finding the road gated off about a mile from Wesser Gap.
I considered just pulling over and hiking from where I was. I then realized that while the first things I needed to do were near Wesser gap..... the rest was NOT. It was totally impractical.
The sign on the gate said the road would reopen after March  15th.  They were trying to minimize cold weather damage to the road by closing it.  It seems like it is working because I found it in better condition than usual for the time of year.  

         I went back down the road and pulled over and got some photos and video footage of an 
interesting cascade on Conleys Creek.   I had seen it before, but never with this much water!

A few different vantage points of the cascade on Conley's Creek. It shoots under an interesting and very large rock!  

Below is a video clip of it.  

           I left the area once was done with photos. I headed back to US 74 expressway and went
round to Alarka and the base.  I figured I'd have no problem locating the houses where I planned to ask permission to walk back to find the waterfall.   It appeared to be right beside a house.
I thought I'd park at the road and hike along the stream so I'd be at the base of the falls and get some good photos. I lifted an address for the house.  I plugged it into my Tomtom.
It tried to tell me to turn onto an old logging road that is gated off very near the parking area for Alarka Falls!  I knew that wasn't right. I figured I would be able to locate the lane based upon its position relative to another named road.   I tried that and came up empty.  For some reason traffic was unusually heavy on this back road today!?   I decided to just try it again the day I return to do the headwaters.  I went back down the road and pulled over to photograph another roadside attraction. Alarka Creek has a pretty cascade down from the falls.   I had never stopped to take a good look at it or get photos of it before.

 Alarka Cascade
 The high bluffs above the cascade keep it in the gloom.
 The cascade from the top of it.

Here is a short video of Alarka Cascade

          I was hungry and did not want what I had brought with me.  I went back toward Bryson City and stopped to get something hot for lunch. I realized on the way to eat that I had a headache starting.
I figured I'd eat lunch and that would take care of it.  It didn't seem to help so I took some advil.
I gave that time and it didn't relieve my discomfort.  It was such a pretty day. I figured I should do something, but I felt discouraged and rotten.  One of those snake bit times in life when nothing is going right.  I tried to get myself interested in stopping to hike at Smokemont and an assortment of places on the way home.  I had driven a long way to have my plans messed up.

            I went home and rested and had a hot cup of coffee and some tylenol and a warm compress on my head and neck.  I began to feel better.  I would just have to accept that my day bombed out.   I looked at the website for the Nantahala National Forest and found their phone number.
I would check by calling before any future trips.  Too far a drive to be fouled up by a gated road!

             I did find an additional waterfall in the area so when I go back maybe I can check that one out too!

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