Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Middle Prong Trail and Panther Creek Trail

 Middle Prong Trail and Panther Creek Trail 

Feb. 28, 2016

Dana Koogler solo

5.6 miles RT 

Middle Prong Trail Area Map

   I got up Sunday and decided I wanted to go on a redemption hike.  I wanted to be out on a pretty day.  I wanted to take pictures. I wanted to clear my head.   I wanted to feel like I could do something.    At first I could not think of where I wanted to go, but then my list keeping came in handy.  I had wanted to get back up Panther Creek to see some of the small falls along that.  
I wanted to see if the water in Lynn Camp Prong had gone down some.  I wanted to take a second look for Stone Camp Branch where it enters the Lynn Camp Prong.   I didn't want to drive a long way and I didn't want to have to get up so early. I have fallen into a pattern of getting up early nearly every day regardless. It's as if I'm still bound to a job. Today I would break that pattern.
I wanted to give myself time to sleep. I wanted to have time to eat breakfast and let the day warm up a little before heading out.  

         I hit the trail around 10:30 am and by then it was sunny and I was in shirt sleeves.
I started up the trail and turned aside today to take photos of whatever struck my fancy.  I photographed some of the beautiful cascades on the Lynn Camp Prong and shot video clips of them.
The stream was beautiful. High water today with lots of foam and tranquil pools of aquamarine water from snow run off.    I saw a fair number of people today, but I had no trouble finding a parking spot and it was not so many people as to be distracting.    I checked out the ford for Marks Creek today and today would not have been concerned about crossing.   Good thing too because I was going to have to cross later today.   Twice.   I scouted the far bank of the river on the way up looking to figure out where Stone Camp Branch was. Today I for sure found it.  I was able to glimpse through the trees that what I saw was indeed a separate stream entering the Lynn Camp Prong and not just the same stream split around an island.   I saw signs of what appears to be folks going down the bank near it and the ground tramped down on the other side.

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One of many pretty cascades on Lynn Camp Prong near the beginning of the hike

2016-02-28 14 58 53This photo shows the aqua tint of the water.

Lynn Camp Prong big hole of water

Yet another beautiful cascade and blue hole of water. I love this time of year.

         I pushed on up the trail and finally arrived at the junction with Panther Creek Trail.
I took a look at the ford and it was not bad.. I was hungry, but I wanted to get the first ford of the prong over with before eating.  I donned my water shoes and scanned the stream. I could see bottom all the way across. I picked my route and got over there without the first difficulty.
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Looking back across the Lynn Camp Prong at where I just came from.  I put my boots back on and hoped the next few creek crossings up Panther Creek Trail would be rock hops.  I wanted a sunny spot to sit down and eat lunch. I figured the slopes on up the trail would be good.  I was not disappointed.   The stream was pretty, but not too high volume.  I rock hopped twice and shortly found a sunny rock to sit on with a view of the creek below me.  Lunch never tasted so good.  I've been dieting so it all tastes good to me.

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Second creek crossing of the day.  Panther Creek trail goes thru this stream and in fifty feet you get to do it again!  

   Once I had eaten some lunch and rested and soaked up some sun I pressed on up the creek. I decided that I'd hike up the trail and then work my way back down taking photos and video as I went.
Panther Creek had plenty water today.  The trail only had one blow down that I saw, but I only went about 3/4 mile up it. It was what I call a lap.. where it is the top of the tree down across the trail.
I knew going in that the falls along Panther Creek were down over the bank with no trail to any of them.   I had photographed some of them before while hiking with Dan Heimsoth in the past.  I was just wanting to revisit some of them.  Today though I was alone.  I had to come to grips with the fact that I was liable to be the only person on this trail today.  I decided to photograph the cascade that I could reach without too much risk. I would be smart about it and avoid climbing down over the bank in some of the other spots where it was more treacherous and slippery. The bad part about some of these falls? While they look pretty from the trail.. if you manage to climb down the bank they are choked in rhodo and downfall.  You have to stand right in the creek to photograph them because there is no place else to stand.   Good way to slip. Good way to go to a lot of effort and get some bad photos and possibly get injured.   Not worth it.     Back down the trail I went to spend some time
photographing the ones I could see and set up to get decent shots.
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A glimpse of what Panther Creek Trail looks like near its start. Snow still on the ground
in the spots that don't get lots of sun.

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Glimpse of the summit of Blanket Mountain above me viewed from the trail.

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A pretty set of cascades just off Panther Creek Trail.  Had I not be solo I'd like to have climbed down to tried to photograph these. You can see what I'm saying about being heavily encroached by rhodo and not much place to stand except the stream.  Down thru the doghobble and rhodo trying to reach these were boulders that dropped off sharply.

  I was able to get to the cascades pictured below without any difficulty. It is rocky but the Winter has the vegetation cut back and the ground is open.

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First part of the cascade which was very green, mossy and attractive.
Slide on Panther Branch today bv
Second part of the falls which was a pretty, mossy slide.

Here is a short video clip of this lovely cascade that is a lot less visited than some.

   I enjoyed my photography and took my time. I had some things I wanted to see back along Lynn Camp that I did not photograph on the way in so I did not tarry too long.   I headed back and was met at the ford by people. The first person was a young man playing in the water at the far side of the stream.  Catching sight of me he decided he was done.   He rejoined his group at the trail sign.
I sat down to put on my water shoes and prep to cross the stream.   A lady walked up and saw what I was getting ready to do and her eyes grew wide.   She got her husband and they sat down on a rock to watch and eat a snack.  You'd have thought Karl Wallenda was going to do a tight rope act.
I forded the stream with no problems and once across they laughed and applauded. I got tickled at them and at myself and laughed with them.  I took my bow.  Good spirit of fun today in the woods and good folks around. Very chill.   The man teased me about how cold the water must be.  I told him it was not that bad since it was 68 degrees today.   It was a long way from the heart.

         I parted from them and headed back down the trail.  I only had that 2.3 miles to cover so I lollygagged and took lots of photos and video.  It was fun and relaxing.  I greeted other hikers and visited with a few.   Today was what I needed to ease my mind and soul.

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Pretty side stream coming down off the bank and flowing under the trail and into Lynn Camp Prong.

Below is a short video of some of the cascades along Lynn Camp Prong today.

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