Fri, Jul 3 2015 - Panthertown Valley: Waterfalls and Vistas (View Original Event Details)|
Blueberries, Bears, and Bonfires! Right from the start of our adventure, we knew there were bears in dem dar woods. As we hiked into the valley from the parking lot at Salt Rock Gap, we took a detour to see Wilderness Falls and Frolictown Falls. Once we got back to the Panthertown Valley Trail, we could see and smells signs of bears about. At one point, we heard a loud rustling in the forest, too big to be a deer. Then we came across a couple of clawmarks on the trail - creepy!! Some of us smelled that awful stench of bear odor. And of course we found lots of bear droppings on the trail. Needless to say, we were diligent about hanging our food bags high and securely. No one actually sighted a bear until the very end of the adventure. While packing out with the dogs early on Sunday morning, Jim spotted a bear about 25 yards ahead of him. With a heavy pack on his back, Jim knew it would be difficult to escape if the bear decided to get friendly.
After setting up camp on Thursday, we set out in search of firewood. Panthertown Valley is very popular with backpackers, so there was very little firewood within .25 mile of the campsite. Luckily, we had several Sven Saws and a couple of mighty lumberjacks in our group who were able to provide us with enough firewood for a HUGE bonfire each night. Thanks, Mark, David, Jim, & Luke!
Although the blueberry bushes were rampant, most of the berries in the Valley were tiny and green. Just as expected, though, we found a ripe crop of blueberries at the top of Little Green Mountain and Tranquility Point. After eating our fill, a couple of us harvested enough berries to bring back to camp for an extra delicious Mountain House Blueberry Cheesecake.
On Friday, Eric, Erin, Kevin, and Parikshat set off for an "eight" mile hike to Laurel Knob. Saturday was our big hiking day with a hike along Little Green Creek up to Cold Mountain. After enjoying lunch on the overlook, we continued our journey to visit a few of the waterfalls along the Tuckaseegee River. We took a break at Elbow Falls and then Jim, Russell and Riley ventured down to the bottom of Red Butt Falls. Some of us marched through the river to visit Riding Ford Falls, Jawbone Falls, finishing up at Warden Falls.
The best part of the weekend was spending time with some wonderful AOC members. Folks were kind and generous with food, first aid, and advice about how to fit a pack. David provided us with with fresh mango and pineapple - quite a load to haul in from the car. Luke administered first aid when Laura gashed her knee during the river walk. We all learned some backpacking tips from each other and enjoyed some enlightening campfire conversations!
The weather was perfect for camping and hiking as the temperatures stayed in the 60's & 70's. We had a bit of rain overnight and only a little rain after breakfast one morning. Luckily, there was no rain while we set up our tents, prepared our meals, and packed up our gear on Sunday morning. We did get some welcome rain during our hike to Cold Mountain.
We had a wonderful 4th of July weekend at Panthertown Valley and look foward to the third annual trip in 2016!
Thanks, David, for the slideshow of our adventure: