Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Coolest Hike

The best hike from my weekend was the shortest, but technically the toughest. It was only about 200 yards from the road, but was down into an extremely steep gorge cut by Scotsman's Creek which crossed Bullpen Road below Cashiers NC. Soon after you begin the descent, you pass into the Ellicott's Rock Wilderness Area. The grade is ridiculous and the vegetation (even in the depths of winter) extremely thick. Most of the problems are from having to negotiate through the rhododendron.

If you still need a lesson in ecological horror, take a look at the hemlock trees here, which are almost all dead from hwa infestation. What makes it doubly sickening is that these hemlock groves are all very old and these trees were of exceptional size. Say goodbye forever.

Our goal, however, was not to mourn the dying evergreens, but to view a little known waterfall called The Lower Falls of Scotsman's Creek. I was expecting a decent waterfall that was, I hoped, worth the tough scramble down to the foot of the gorge. What we got was one of the nicest waterfalls I've hiked to in a very long time. The water volume was great, and the vertical of this falls was also very impressive. I can only imagine what this place looked like when the dominant hemlock trees were in the glory of health.


Well, here is the place to which we scrambled down and struggled up from when it was time to make the next hike:

The Lower Falls: Amazing!

Nothing like standing in a place such as this to make you feel quite small.

Out of the gorge. Yes, it was very steep!

Through the rhododendron and up to the top!

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