Friday, March 19, 2010

Standing Indian Campground

While I'm working on my new novel I'll just be mainly posting photos from older hikes and camping/backpacking trips. I want to meet my deadline with as few problems as possible. I'm roughly 1/3 of the way through what I project to be the novel's length, so I'm doing okay at this point. But I can't devote as much time as I'd like to writing other stuff and to traveling to go on new camping and hiking journeys.

Such is the price paid for reaching a life-long goal.

This was taken in 2005 on our trip to camp at Standing Indian. I've forgotten the names of the two big waterfalls in this area. One was called Mooney Falls, but I've forgotten if it's the one in this photo or the following one. Both were really very pretty and in nice, secluded settings.

The hike to and from this waterfall was one of the creepiest experiences of my hiking life. I think on a normal day it's a popular spot for people to visit. But I began the hike kind of late in the day because of my hike to the summit of a peak called Pickens Nose and to another waterfall. So it was already later in the afternoon than I normally start for a hike. There were no other people around. I was completely alone. Everything was fine until I was finished taking photos and was ready to head back. The place is in a gorge of sorts, so the sun was already gone from the sky, having hidden behind one of the looming ridge lines. So the forest was getting very shadowy. Almost as soon as I walked away from the falls I began to have the strangest feeling of being watched. It was classic: goosebumps up and down my spine; the hairs on the back of my neck standing up; my skin tingling. It felt like someone was behind me almost constantly. I kept turning around to see if there was anyone or anything in the forest at my back, but I never saw anything. You couldn't hear much because of the constant rush and crush of water against rock. At one point, as it began to get darker, I ended up running the last part of the trail back to my truck. Very frightening.

This was one of the reasons I got a late start hiking to that waterfall. I wanted to see the view from a mountain called Pickens Nose. Named after a mass murdering racist soldier from the American Revolution. Popularized in modern times by being portrayed in a highly fictionalized film by Mel Gibson.

Same trip, next day. The thing about this photo is that I was standing right at the edge of a truly enormous cliff. There was lots of vegetation right at the lip and just below the edge, but it's one of the highest sheer drops I've seen in North Carolina. If you fell through the brush behind me, you'd be dead for sure. This is right on the Appalachian Trail as it passes near Ridgepole Mountain. This was a fantastic campsite, with the only drawback being that there's no water source nearby. But just a great spot to pitch a tent.

No comments: