Sat, May 28 2005 - Backpacking Panthertown Valley (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Bruce
Participants:Angela, Don Hayes, Walker Mcknight, Keith Canseco, Scott Christian, Tom Stricker, Meiyuan Lin , verginer, Tramaine David, Tuyet Lu Hayes, Bruce

Write Up:
Event details: Many and varied weather forecasts failed to promise what would befall us on Saturday. When the seven us arrived at Panthertown Valleys trailhead close to Cashiers, NC it was cold, gloomy windy and unpleasant in general as we passed by some lovely pink lady slipper orchids at the top of the trail. The Salt Rock overlook was beautiful to behold the valley from and many pictures were taken. On our way walking down it began raining, prompting several of us to put on backpack covers and raincoats. Happily by the time we reached the bottom of the valley the temps got warmer and the sun came out and blessed us most of this day. A shorter walk than I had remembered brought us to our campsite in the pine flats at the bottom of the valley and just out the right fork a bit.

After setting up tents we were on our way to the days adventure, first to Wardens Falls, after passing under the heights of Blackrock Mountain to our left. We all enjoyed viewing the falls from the stone shelf across from the waterfall on the Tuckaseegee River.

After a relaxing lunch I offered an option of seeing the views from atop Blackrock Mountain instead of planned hike on the itinerary sheet; this would eventually cost us quite a long walk, more so than planned.

The mountain (and valley in general) was decorated by ‘rosebay’ rhododendron, freshly bloomed and gorgeous to gaze upon, and we enjoyed the overlook on top of Blackrock Mountain, and took more pictures. This took us into the ‘lost’ portion of our hike, which we looked for and never saw a major trail to the left of the main trail we walked on, as marked on the map of the Panthertown Valley. The long walk on this nondescript trail down the mountain took us past a timber rattler, who startled us all with his rattle. He was a quite healthy specimen, and we later named him ‘Rodney’ the rattlesnake. We eventually ended up disappointingly outside the wilderness boundary, and at a gravel road, also not clearly marked on the map. After a bit of discussion, it was decided in absence of a more helpful map and no references at to where we really were; backtracking was the safest way to get back to Blackrock’s summit and a shortcut down the mountain close to our campsite. It was a long and tedious walk up the mountain, and all figured we probably put in at least ten miles, for which I apologized for my part in aiding and abetting on unknown trails in the valley. This long hike did get us back to the summit though and after another minor map discrepancy we found our way down the mountain on the small, but easy to follow shortcut trail. We were all happy to get back to camp to gather firewood for the nights dinner, take naps and rest a bit before dinner. The night’s festivities, after dining on various dinners, included bad jokes, bad singing (I helped) and dive bombing very territorial whippoorwills who we guess were nesting close by. They would return to haunt us later. After the fire died down and several retired for the evening, four of us went to stargaze and all four of us saw the same shooting star, and made a wish (it was Tuyet’s first shooting star sighting).

After making up our own fake constellations-crab cake nebula, candy cane, diamond, camping tent, etc.; we walked back band all retired from the chilly night and the eventual haunting by the demon-possessed whippoorwills. After all were happily sleeping they came, and the whippoorwill sat in the middle of camp (or so it seemed) and loudly, unceasingly proclaimed his territory and sang; not stopping til I got up and threatened their existence on the planet. They then flew off to taunt us from a distance and we all slept again. After waking to a chilly morning and going back to bed to wait for warmer temps, we all got up and some enterprising persons (not myself) made a welcome cold morning fire; which we all huddled around, had breakfast and more conversation and laughs before prepacking a bit. The we readied ourselves for the days hike to Little Green Mountain and its panoramic overlooks. After the moderate hike up we all relaxed to the serene, quiet and windless day and enjoyed the valley overlook supreme and took more pretty pictures. Then we moved down the mountain and past the endless supply of orange surveyors markers (all over the valley) with unintelligible mathematical formulas none of us figured out, and arrived at Schoolhouse Falls at the bottom. We rested again and enjoyed the sights, rock skipping, walking behind the waterfall before returning to camp via the middle fork of the valley trails.

We packed our backpacks and out the good uphill grade past Salt Rock overlook, and back to a very popular and crowded parking area of Sunday morning. We ‘dined’ briefly at Subway in nearby Cashiers before returning to the big city. Thanks to all in the group for being part of another stellar experience in this beautiful valley.
Written By: Bruce Aldridge
Photos From: Bruce Aldridge