Thursday, October 15, 2009

Grayson Highlands Day Trip, Part III

After we left the historical part of the park we drove up to Massie Gap where I could hike the Cabin Creek Trail. Despite my many trips to Grayons Highlands State Park, I'd always managed to avoid the Cabin Creek area. I'd heard that the creek had a wealth of waterfalls, but most of the time when I'd go there, my main concern was in bagging peaks and viewing the treeless heights. This time I'd promised myself to hike to see those waterfalls.

As it turned out, I'd been robbing myself of quite a sight. There are two really nice medium-sized waterfalls along the trail. However, at about the halfway mark on the roughly two-mile trail there is a tremendous series of cascades that tumble at least 100 feet down the mountain. They're not really a single waterfall, but together they make up quite a sight. I'm hoping that I can go back soon and take them in as a more leisurely hike. As it was, I was pressed for time after spending most of an hour photographing the previous waterfalls I'd seen along the trail.

This colorful view of Haw Orchard Mountain greeted us as we drove toward the Massie Gap trailheads.

As I hiked out of Massie Gap, I passed by this pretty spruce tree.

This is a horse baffle to keep the asshole horseback riders off of the hiking trails. Horseback riders are easily the biggest jerks one will encounter when in our parks and wild lands. They are almost uniformly a selfish and inconsiderate bunch of assholes. I rank them near the bottom with ATV fans.

I saw this blossom just as I started down the trail. There weren't many flowers left on the forest floor this late in the year, but this was one I'd never seen before. I don't know what it is, since I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to flowers.

The trail passes through classic rhododendron tunnels. I love these places!

The first nice waterfall I came to was visually the nicest. I like the multiple streams of water falling into the shallow pool.

I took this self-portrait at the first waterfall. Despite my grim demeanor (I didn't have time to smile before the camera took the shot), I was feeling quite happy.

The rugged trail as you pass the nice waterfall.

The next waterfall I came to wasn't as impressive, but it had a deeper pool.

The view from the top of the falls.

I saw this sign just as I came to the next series of waterfalls.

I had no idea I was going to see this kind of plunge. This wasn't really a waterfall, but was a tremendous series of cascades that splashed down the mountain in a great display. I want to go back and explore it in detail and get some better photographs.

After that it was just a mild uphill climb to get back to the trail head.

I soon came to this wonderfully colorful view of Haw Orchard Mountain, which looms above Massie Gap.

You can see why I don't like horses in our parks. This trail is ruined beyond repair. The horses tear up the terrain and cause much erosion. In this very fragile ecosystem, it would take many hundreds of years to correct this kind of damage.

And this was the view at the truck where Carole and her mom were waiting for me to return from my hike. Massie Gap is one amazingly pretty spot, no matter what the season.

For the sake of contrast, here's a photo I took from basically the same spot a few years ago. This was right after a snowfall of about one foot in early December when we went up to a choose and cut Christmas tree farm.

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