Monday, March 20, 2017

Waterfall Bag List

One of my favorite hiking and camping areas of North Carolina is the area around the Wilson Creek National Wild & Scenic River. Much of it is not wilderness in the classic sense because the Wilson Creek corridor has a lot of private inholdings with houses and cabins and trailers sitting beside the river. And there is the main access road: Brown Mountain Beach Road, which is a wide, very well maintained gravel avenue to allow the large crowds that descend on Wilson Creek on summer and holiday weekends.

However, there is actual wilderness beyond the main creek. Wander just a little way off and you find yourself in deep forests, very rugged terrain, and often real solitude.

I ventured into the North Harper Creek Wilderness Study Area on Saturday, March 18 to bag two waterfalls I have wanted to see for a while. Neither of them are particularly spectacular falls, but they are pleasing and interesting, being long, sloping cascades rather than single-drop falls.

There are currently two wilderness study areas in the vicinity. Both are roadless, the main requirement for wilderness designation. However, wilderness areas are not popular these days with legislators and the corporate bosses who pull their strings. So it's probably a safe bet to assume that neither of these will ever make it into the national Wilderness Area program.

However, I did find some actual peace and quiet on this hike. I only encountered two hikers who were heading out as I was going in, and two mountain bikers as I was leaving who were illegally biking the trail, as it was posted only for foot travel. (Such folk should be shot on sight.)

I was able to finally mark this pair of waterfalls off my list. The last time I went to hike there for that purpose, I was halted from reaching the trailhead by a large tree that had blocked the Forest Service Road when it fell in the night. That day I ended up hiking to see some waterfalls that I'd already seen, so it wasn't a total loss. But on this day I made it in to see Chestnut Cove Falls and North Harper Creek Falls. It was a very quiet and relaxing hike, and I did enjoy some actual solitude for a few hours.

Man, it was quiet in there!

Chestnut Cove Falls.

Potholes on Chestnut Cove Falls.

Obligatory selfie at North Harper Creek Falls. I was there for over an hour and saw no one.

North Harper Creek Wilderness Study Area.

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