Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Western NC Hiking With A Friend...Working on Finishing our CMC Waterfall 100's!

Gentian 

Working on Finishing Our CMC Waterfall 100's

Oct. 20 & 21st , 2018

Dana Koogler
Wally Storey



  During the time Kenny's job was going on in Augusta, Georgia I decided to do some 
fun stuff for myself with a friend.  I knew Wally had one more falls to complete his 
Carolina Mountain Club Waterfall 100 Challenge.  It was a potentially long hike too.
Bearcamp aka Hilliard Falls.   12 miles round trip or a boat access trip with a 3 mile round trip hike.   I did not particularly want to do either of those, but had figured out that by using my four-wheel drive jeep to drive Musterground Road we could do it easily.  It reduced the hike to
4.4 miles round trip.   I did not take a lot of photos on the repeat trip with Wally as I had just been there two weeks prior.   

   We set a time to meet at the Bad Creek Trail head parking lot.   I arrived about ten minutes late thanks to traffic delays.   I had driven over and on the way had come down with body aches.  By the time I got out of the vehicle to greet Wally I felt terrible.  I had started chilling until my teeth chattered.   He asked me if I was ok and I explained what was going on. I popped a couple advil tablets and determined that illness or not we were going to at least finish his last
hike on the list today.   

    We hadn't gotten far down the trail until I began to feel a lot better.  The cool, fresh air seemed to help me.   The exercise and conversation was also a nice distraction.  I could feel myself improving.  In about 20 minutes I felt completely better.   We enjoyed the forest and the quiet and the pretty scenery. It was great seeing Wally and spending time with an excellent friend.      It was really a satisfying feeling when we made it to the falls! He was done with his list!   Yay!   The falls had a little more water today than previously!

 Hilliard Falls

Looking downstream at the brink of the lower cascade

     The hike back was easy enough and went by quickly.   I still felt fine. We encountered one lone backpacker today.    He was not sure where he was going to stop.  He wasn't having a very good time.  He was moving too fast and making himself miserable.   We made it back to the jeep in good time.  We had decided to stop by the un-named falls Kenny and I found so Wally could see it.   We did this which did not take a long time.   


Above-- a neat rock grotto near the un-named falls.

 Un-named Falls
Lowest portion of un-named falls.

     We got back to the parking area and Wally's car.   I felt so much better and of course got all wound up and wanting to go do other stuff. More hiking.  Yet we sat and talked and I reasoned that if I over did it and ended up so sick the next day we couldn't hike I'd be angry with myself.   I felt the wisest decision was to go check into our cabins. Get cleaned up and go have dinner and rest.   Just visit with one another and relax.   I felt so good right now, but I had not forgotten how truly terrible I felt on arriving.   I never did get sick again thank the Lord.   I don't know what was going on with me.

   We checked into our cabins at Adventure Village. I thought we'd have cabins next door to each other, but instead mine was at the front of the campground and Wally's was all the way to the back.
I had some Mexican fellow as a neighbor. He was quiet enough, but not real friendly. 

    Wally drove this time when we went to eat supper. He even treated me to dinner!  He suggested we try the Pisgah Fish Camp.  He said it was good and he and Cathy had eaten there many times before.  I had never tried it.  I was sure glad we did.  I had oysters and they were outstanding.  It is a nice place to get a good hot meal for a fair price.  I can't wait to take Kenny back there.   We had a lovely dinner with good conversation and lots of laughs.  Lucky to have such a fine friend. 

     We went on back to our respective cabins and it wasn't long til I was asleep.  I laid everything out for the next days hike before going to sleep.  I considered sleeping in the loft, but did not want a concussion so I stayed downstairs.  

Shuck Ridge Falls 


   Saturday dawned cold and frosty!   It was supposed to warm up to about sixty degrees my afternoon.  We got breakfast and packed up our stuff. I packed us each a lunch.   We jumped in my jeep and set off to the trail head for Shuck Ridge Falls.  It is a long hike and Wally had done it before, but it had been many years earlier.  I had seen photos of it and it sure looked pretty in other folks photos.  I was looking forward to seeing it for myself.   I had heard it was a tough hike. It really wasn't bad at all from the direction we came in.  My original thought was to shorten it up by coming down off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Brenda Wiley has hiked to it multiple ways.  She warned me that while that would be about half the distance it would be very difficult and nothing good to see on the hike in or out.    I was very glad to have listened.   

      The hike in was gradual, easy and the trail simple to understand directions. I had Rich's directions printed off from NC Waterfalls.com.  The photos included help you know you're on the right track.
I don't know when I've enjoyed a hike more.  It truly was beautiful and the Davidson River is one gorgeous cascade and clear tranquil pool after another.  Any repeat trips I'd go there in a hot second.
I want to return and enjoy each and every one of those cascades and pools. I also want to visit Right Fork Falls.   My hiking pole messed up on the way in.  I tried fixing it. Wally tried fixing it.  Finally I gave up and took Wally's suggestion. I left it at the intersection of the trail we'd take on the return hike.  I hung it on the trail carsonite stake since I figured if I could not see it I'd forget it.  He told me 
it was a bad idea, but I laughed about it. I said the thing was messed up and if someone stole it they were getting what they deserved!  


     We didn't go too much further til we encountered the falls below the Farlow Gap Trail that Rich mentioned.  We turned aside to see it. It was worth the short side trip. It is covered in some down fall, but still pretty and the water volume made it attractive.  It was an easy scramble down to see it.

        We ambled on and the trail grew steeper and climbed the ridge.  The sun was really out and the day warmed up great.  I shed a jacket.   The Autumn colors were so pretty. It was one of those perfect golden Autumn days I will remember always.   Blue skies, warm sunshine, golden leaves, fresh air. 
We dropped down the other side of the ridge through a campsite and before we knew it we were there!  We were crossing the stream above Shuck Ridge Falls.  The stream was hypnotically beautiful.  It seemed even clearer and bluer than the Davidson River if that is possible.  You could really see all the various colored stones and pebbles in the stream.  Too pretty for words.
Wally at the small falls. 
          We crossed and began working our way to the left.  I then saw what everyone had been trying to explain.   Shuck Ridge Falls is not a huge waterfall. It is about 25 feet high, but getting to the base is not easy.   One spot in the middle of the descent is very slick and covered in loamy soil with not much to hold onto.   I felt I would fare better with a rope to help control the climb down.  Wally obliged me by tying off a climbing rope.  It was much appreciated.   He was very patient with me.
Once we got past that middle part the rest was a piece of cake.    At last there we stood at the base of beautiful Shuck Ridge Falls!  It was even prettier than the photos could show. No substitute for being there and seeing for yourself.  
Falls below Farlow Gap Trail 



        Shuck Ridge Falls in all its glory. Photos don't do it justice.

  We sat and talked and ate lunch on the boulders at the base of the falls. We spent plenty of time there, but at last had to start the return hike.   We gathered the rope on the way up.  Up is always easier than down.   Once back across the stream and hiking back we encountered a lone runner. She was accompanied by her dog.   She was going up the trail to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We stopped and looked at the climb she was facing. We were very glad we did not have to deal with that.  We'd have been worn out with that long slog to the top.  

     We continued back toward the trail intersection. Our plan was to hike the loop to see different stuff. It had been many years since I saw Toms Spring Falls.  I was looking forward to it.  I'm not sorry we did this, but on any return trips I'll skip this part.  The trail is kinda pretty in places, but there is not much to see until you get to the bottom and the falls.  We encountered lots of hikers on this section of the trail.  Trail maintenance was being done with heavy equipment making the trail ugly.
It seemed like a looooong time til we got to the bottom and Toms' Spring Falls.  It was quite impressive today. Much moreso than the previous time I saw it. More water today.

Toms Spring Falls is massive!  

          We were worn out when we got back to the jeep.  I had forgotten Wally had to drive back home this evening.  I hated that, but he had some place to be the next day.   I thanked him for his company and I look forward to the next adventure.   He's a super nice friend.  We parted company.

      I headed back toward Brevard and on to Lake Toxaway.  I decided as tired and sweaty and dirty as I was I'd get a frozen pizza at the store and fix it in the oven at the cabin.  Thankfully I remembered that the oven is difficult to light and use. I also had no means to light it.   I opted instead to go for fast food at the drive through.  It tasted good since I was very tired and hungry.  I headed back to the cabin and got cleaned up and was asleep by 8 pm.  I was worn out.   

   The next day I packed up and headed home.  I had my waterfall list down to five left!
Wally had also helped me plan how I could finish them up.  I can knock out the four in South Carolina in one weekend. I can get that last one... High Shoals Falls at South Mountain State Park.
Wally wants to go if he can and revisit that. We will also hit up Pothole Falls nearby.  We can stop and eat dinner in Rutherfordton at Scoggins Steak House. Yum!!

        Also we can hike to Bearwallow Mountain and the fire tower site. I need that one to finish up my fire tower spots on the list.  I've only got ten left.  I think the funniest one will be Rendezvous mountain fire tower site.  Kenny can't pronounce it correctly, but his way is hilarious and stupid.


      

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