Monday, March 22, 2010
I had been to Panthertown Valley several times to day hike. But I had never gone in with the intention of staying overnight. Then, shortly after a hurricane had passed through the area, dumping many inches of rain there, I found myself heading into the semi-wilderness with my tent and backpack and enough provisions to keep me going for the two nights and three days I'd be in there.
I also found myself alone in the valley and its ridges, since the place had been posted as off limits due to the heavy rains. But the rangers at the state park where I stopped to get directions and information told me that Panthertown was open and that I should ignore the posted signs. Of course no one who had failed to speak with the rangers would have known this, and I found that I had the entire vast place to myself for the duration of my stay. It was Heaven!
This is the area where I camped. I didn't sleep in the A-frame shelter, but used a good campsite adjacent to it. I stashed my food from nearby trees whenever I was sleeping or away from camp.
This is a well known swimming hole on one of the creeks. The creek bottom is covered with a fine, soft sand from the eroded granite domes that dot the valley.
I took this shot from near Salt Gap. You can plainly see the scar of the Duke Power right of way where they set their transmission lines. If not for Duke Power, Panthertown Valley would have been a great wilderness area. But before it could be saved, they bought it, punched through their hideous transmission line, then "donated" the halved area to the National Forest Service. Duke Power liked to brag of the great service that they'd done for the people of North Carolina, but in reality they screwed us out of many thousands of acres of untouched wilderness with their damned transmission line.
Another panoramic shot on one of my jaunts across the ridges that loom above the valley.
One thing that I love about the forests and the mountains is that being in it puts you in your place. You realize that Nature is bigger than anyone.
One of the many great views I came upon as I hiked for three days all alone in the forest.
A public service message for the Tea Baggers can be found here.