Sat, Oct 16 2004 - Backpack and dayhike to several waterfalls (View Original Event Details)|
|Participants:||Angela, Tricia & Bruce Pope, Stephanie Branson, Don Hayes, Emily Boness, John Robertson, Kathy Clark, Udo Licht, Kiran Puttaswamy, Don Norton (Chicken Feathers), Joe Donovan, Josh Spier, Keith Canseco, Paul Burns, , Asma Rashid, Bruce|
After losing several to sickness and work commitments earlier in the week all thirteen remaining showed up at the park and ride, and we were on our way by 7:20 on this chilly morning. Threatening dark clouds greeted us outside of Cashiers, NC close to the Panthertown Valley, but nothing came of it. We all drove up to the trailhead at Salt Rock Gap, put on our backpacks, and were on our way on a very fall-like crisp, cool and refreshing morning down to Salt Rock overlook where we were all taken in by the fall colors in the valley, and beautiful view. We took pictures and moved on down into the valley, and stopped briefly at Granny Burrell Falls on the Panthertown River and took more pictures. Then we walked the rest of the way through the rhodendron thickets to the camping area shelter and flat area in the White Pine forest surrounding to set up our tents and have lunch.
It was obvious this was another good social group with many newcomers and characters among some veterans and hiking leaders and friends who’d been on previous trips with me. All were a blessing and fun to be with, laugh with; and the fun we were all to have later that evening.
After set up and lunch and getting to know one another a little better, we moved on about 12:30pm to our 7 mile remainder dayhike. This route was made easier by friends Jim Kuro and Joe Donovan who had helped me check the trail the two weeks previous to the trip for trail damage, and portions of the trail unknown to me. We started our hike on the backside and several hundred foot cliffs of Big Green Mountain, and eventually up the creek bed that guided us up the back of the mountain. At the top we slowed our pace to allow ourselves a break from the relatively hard uphill previous. We made our way through more Rhododendron thickets and boggy creekside habitat to the lovely Greenland Creek’s middle falls, some 70 feet high and beautiful this day helped by previous rains, as all the waterfalls in the valley were to be.
We snacked, climbed, adventured and rested at this falls, before getting back to the trail to Cold Mountain Gap, and the trail down into the valley, from the opposite side as we had started, in the morning. We walked to Schoolhouse Falls, also on Greenland Creek, and again rested; before our final push up the slopes of Little Green Mountain and the beautiful and windy fall views from the top. The wind, as it had started hours earlier was much more evident on the top of the mountain. We enjoyed the views, took more pictures and followed the white arrows on the rock surface to the trail down the mountain, and to our final walk to the campsite and the evenings festivities, including the wine and cheese party.
Josh, we discovered had brought ‘silver bullets’ down into the valley to share with the group besides the five liter red wine Joe brought to go with my cheese selection and crackers. After light fell, we settled into a fun party mode and learned many more things about one another, as we laughed, roasted marshmallows; and had wine, beer cheese and crackers around the fire Jake ‘the flame’ Mutz (a careful and festidious firebuilder by his own admission-something that proved very true). With help from a few others Jake ‘the flame’ built a beautiful fire, dutifully tended it through the festivities; and we moved into ‘drunk talk’ (quote by Bruce 2 -Pope), and several commented of others what a nice pair of marshmallows the others had to giggles and laughs. Many marshmallows were sacrificed to the fire gods, created by ‘the flame’; and unfortunately many brain cells were sacrificed to the alcohol gods, but most of us made it through in fine shape.
After putting out, and spreading our fire out, several went to their sleeping quarters to brace for the cold evening ahead; but most of us went on a star-gazing walk and laydown, saw beautiful and plentiful stars, much better out in this wilderness than around the big city. Orion, three shooting stars, a gorgeous milky way; among others were evident in the crystal clear cool evening. After some time, and some of us getting sleepy enough to fall off in the soft sand of the walking path we lay on; we decided to walk back to retire for the evening.
The next morning there were mixed reviews on how people had slept in the 35-degree evening temperatures; I found out my 35-degree sleeping bag was overrated; and many reported cold faces. Most slept well, and after morning wakings – most around the same time; we made breakfasts of various types, consumed the same. Some late sleepers decided they didn’t want to brave the upcoming water crossing at the the beginning of the days short hike before leaving the valley; decided to walk out a little later following the original route, we had come in on.
The rest of us made our way to two waterfalls on Frolictown Creek, took more pictures, had a short getting lost adventure, then went to the second waterfall on Frolictown Creek which was the tallest in the valley, and spectacular this day with higher water levels than usual. After some trail snacks and enjoying, climbing around this waterfall, we got back to the main trail and hiked slowly out the valley to the Salt Rock overlook. We enjoyed the view again, soaked up some rays, took more pictures of the fall color clad valley and rested again before Don prodded us to be on our way by saying ‘let’s go get something to eat’, referring to our upcoming lunch at the mexican restaurant in Walhalla, SC.
After we packed in our vehicles, we drove to our lunchspot in Walhalla, where all enjoyed a lot of water, chips and salsa; before getting our great mexican lunch-dinners. It was nice to enjoy everyone’s company around the table one more time before getting back to Atlanta and the real world.
Thanks to all for being part of a great group of hikers, new and old friends; and another fun time in the wilderness.
Written By: Bruce Aldridge
Photos From: Bruce Aldridge