Saturday, February 25, 2012

Harper Creek Trail, Trail #260 in Pisgah National Forest

I didn't get quite as early a start on the hike as I wanted, but I was only about twenty minutes late getting to the Wilson Creek Area. Unfortunately, the Wilson Creek Visitor's Center was closed. I wanted to go in and see if they had any new maps of the vicinity. I guess they can't keep the place open certain times of the year.

Even though I've spent a fair amount of time on and around Wilson Creek, I have missed all but two of the waterfalls there. I had been to North Harper Creek Falls, which is where I dropped my favorite camera a few years ago (due to angry bumblebees) and watched it go over the falls. And I'd been to Hunt Fish Falls also in the vicinity. But most of the hikes were to peaks and cliffs so there are a number of really nice waterfalls there that I have yet to see.

Since I had Thursday off and needed a brief respite not only from carrying the mail, but also from working on the novels, I loaded up my daypack and truck and sped off for the Morganton area.

One nice thing about the day I chose was that no one else seemed to be interested in using the trails. I did see a fair number of folk fly fishing in Wilson Creek, but no other humans seemed to be about. Another thing that you could not help but notice was the weather. The day was all but hot. Temperatures hit the mid-70s. This year we didn't have a winter. We had a very late Autumn which remained warm for the whole of the season, and winter has been a joke. No snow. No ice. Only a few days of what I would call cold weather. The trees and flowers have already decided that it's Spring and are budding and blooming. I can only imagine what summer is going to be like.

I'll never understand why people insist on cutting across switchbacks on our trails. It is, of course, very destructive. But also it makes no sense! It's far more difficult to scramble up or down one of these messes than it is to follow the trail. Morons!

The trail offers classic southern Appalachian hiking. This place has to be pure beauty when the rhododendron and mountain laurel (and azalea) are blooming in the spring and summer.

This is the end of the spur that leads to Harper Creek Falls. This is the best of the safe grandstands for viewing the falls. You can get down lower to the base of the falls, but unless you're willing to get wet, I wouldn't advise it if the rock is damp. When I arrived a heavy fog had just lifted and it had rained heavily in the night. The rocks were very slick, so I couldn't get down safely below the falls. Therefore, I didn't go.

The soothing sound of falling water.

I took this self-portrait from the ledge above the falls.

I did use the rope anchored above the falls to go partway down the slope. I took this photo from a point by sitting on the rock while holding to the rope and snapping a quick shot.

A short video of hiking along the trail. The grade is very even on this trail so just about anyone can hike it easily.

No comments: