Thursday, November 08, 2007

Panthertown Valley, Again

On one of my subsequent visits to Panthertown, I spent three days and two nights totally alone in the valley camping, hiking, and exploring the maze of trails. It was late September, just after the remnants of a hurricane had dropped untold volumes of water over the North Carolina high country and the Valley was posted as "closed" due to high water and wind damage. However, a ranger had told me that the closure was lifted and it was okay to venture in. But no one took down the closure signs and so I had the place to myself for the duration. Just me and the coyotes who would come down to my campsite every evening between 7:00 pm and 7:15 pm and serenade me with their eerie music.

One thing about Panthertown Valley is that there is no official trail system there. The only trails were hacked in by various folk over the years and some were maintained by a local until he got too old to continue. So you have to be sure to get the GUIDE'S GUIDE TO PANTHERTOWN VALLEY before you go tramping about in there. Without that map, it's almost certain that you'll get lost in the huge numbers of criss-crossing trails made by wandering hikers, hunters, fishermen, deer, bears, etc.

This was one of the side trails that I happened upon while heading toward Shelton Pisgah Mountain. I wandered down it a distance before heading back up. It dead-ended at a dropoff above a stream. Bear trail? Not sure. I had to hunker down to maneuver through it.

I always like to bag new peaks when I'm hiking, and there were lots of new mountains I hadn't hiked in the ring of ridges that form the sides of Panthertown. This was my self-portrait taken on the event horizon on the cliffs of Blackrock Mountain.

Some of the debris I had to maneuver around. Trees knocked over by wind and water were all over the Valley on that trip.

The weather, a closure sign, and circumstances allowed me to have Panthertown Valley all to myself for three days. It'll never happen again, I'm sure.

One of the many fords I had to make as I tramped around the Valley.

I found this pool down in the area known as "Devil's Elbow". As the temperatures had risen considerably (it was October 1st), and I was tired and sweaty from all my hiking, I chose this place to take a quick dip.

Yet another of the dark tunnels leading Bog knows where. I crawled down this one until I heard rapids crashing below me.

A view of the Valley from near Salt Rock Gap. From here, you can see the scar of the right-of-way that Duke Power raped through the forests. Thanks a lot, Coroporate Assholes!


Mia Wolff said...

hey Hemlockman--I've been enjoying your trips and photos... can't any longer do those kind of hikes myself (knee) but am cruising along with you in my head.
You and I are both linked on Eddie's blog....

HemlockMan said...

Cool! Thanks for reading!

I love Eddie's blog! He has to be the brainiest artist working in the comics form.