Sat, Jul 13 2013 - Panthertown Valley (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Mike Pawloski
Participants:Nate Johnson, Ann, Ralph Howard, Sarah Y, Armin, john everly, Gillian, Debbie H, Mike Pawloski, Kathy R., Andrew

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Write Up:

On Saturday, July 13, eleven members of the Atlanta Outdoor Club (AOC) set out on a backpacking trip to Pantehrtown Valley, near Cashiers, NC. Located within the Nantahala National Forest, Panthertown Valley, known as "the Yosemite of the East", lies on the eastern continental divide in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. ¶ The group met up at 6:45am, made introductions, and took off. The drive up was a pleasant one, despite threatening skies and a few periods of drizzle. Hard to believe that a year ago we were in severe drought status throughout much of the Southeast, given this year and all the rain we've received. ¶ After arriving and getting our packs on, we hit the trail. It's a short walk in (about 40 minutes or so) to the campsite. Luckily, when we arrived, no one else was there. There was plenty of room, so everyone spread out and got set up. ¶ After gathering some firewood and having a bite for lunch, the group headed over to a nearby sandbar, which the three dogs on the trip really enjoyed. Tucker, the Border Collie, Henry, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Cedar, my Lab, all had fun in the sand and water there. We didn't dally too long; skies looked threatening and we wanted to check out some other areas and maybe get a swim in. ¶ Our next stop was Schoolhouse Falls, and man was it roaring! With all the aforementioned rain, the water was high and the current was swift. That, however, didn't stop Tucker or Cedar (or a couple of us on two legs) from getting in and getting wet. The water was at first painfully cold (think Seinfeld episode and George's reaction to the frigid water temp!) but became quite enjoyable once you got used to it. We hung out there for a while and had a good time. Some of the more adventurous hiked back behind the Falls which was pretty cool. ¶ The itinerary called for a hike over to an area known as "Pot Hole" which I had never been to. As Trip Leader I wasn't overly concerned since on an AOC event there is usually someone around who's been to the area, and that was the case here. ¶ After a muddy truck through some rhododendron, we came to what we thought was "Pot Hole" but with the high water it was hard to tell. We marched on a little further but the trail seemed to end. Bottom line - we think we hit "Pot Hole" but could not be certain. No worries though, that just means we'll have something else to try again next time! ¶ Since we kind of "bottomed out" on "Pot Hole" we decided to switch things up a bit and head over to two other water falls - Jawbone and Riding Ford Falls. These were great, albeit roaring like Schoolhouse was. A few people got in at Jawbone and frolicked around then over at nearby Riding Ford a few carefully walked across the top and hung out on a rock outcropping. ¶ After hiking back to camp, it was close to dinner time, so we gathered around, shared appetizers, and enjoyed each others company. ¶ I think some of the real highlights happened a little earlier before we set out on our day hike then after dinner when a few people went about trying to hang their "bear bags". (This is a process whereby you sling a line over a tree branch and hoist up your food keeping it out of reach from bears and other critters.) There are about as many techniques and strategies people deploy to accomplish this as there are trees in the forest! For those of us who choose to make it a spectator sport this night, we were thoroughly entertained to say the least... ¶ The evenings campfire was terrific, as were the jokes, stories and fellowship we shared. Thankfully the rain held off and the cool temps made for a really pleasant evening. ¶ At some point after we turned in, the rain finally came. This continued on and off throughout the night. Around 7am the rains took a break and people were starting to get up. A look to the skies indicated that more rain wasn't far off. As a result, we decided to forgo a morning hike up to Little Green Mountain as we deemed it would be to slippery at the top. After some coffee and breakfast, we packed up and, just as we were assembling for a group photo before hiking out, the rains came again. Fortunately it was a short walk back to the cars and the rain was intermittent. We made it up the muddy trail and back to our cars wet, but satisfied and happy to have enjoyed spending some time in beautiful Panthertown Valley. ¶ I want to send a shout out "Thank You" to my fellow AOC'ers who were on the trip. I had a great time and look forward to our next event together!