I didn’t plan on missing all of my high school class reunion events but we’d already missed the water release once and I really, really wanted to see it and I thought I’d have time for both. The dam water release at High Falls at Lake Glenville on the West Fork Tuckasegee River near Cashiers is opened as a recreational water release just a handful of times each year. This year it fell on our anniversary which we missed because it was too soon after my shoulder surgery and it was released again on my birthday… Serendipitous? I thought so!
I decided to take my sturdy tripod because the legs are easier to adjust and it’s sturdier than the new one, and my fz300 because it is weatherproof. I still put the rain sleeve on it but just in case I slipped or we didn’t pick a high enough spot and we had to cross water back to get to the bank again. I hope Kevin Adams had his camera in a weatherproof case or a camera you can totally immerse in water after watching his 55 sec video :O
We got up at 5 am, got ready and drove just over an hour and a half to the parking lot for the upper trail. The temps were in the low 50’s and it felt great to have a glimpse of autumn. I’d read if you wanted a good spot to get there early and since we already missed it once, that is exactly what we did. The parking lot had 2 cars in it, a tent and 2 of those pod hammocks things. Thankfully there was a bathroom across from the parking lot. I only had 2 of my 3 “cups” of coffee and I was grateful it was there. As we started the descent I was already dreading coming back up and by the time we were 3/4 of the way down the .75 mile trail my legs had the shakes. The elevation drops 650 feet in that 3/4 mile, but the trail makers have to be commended for all the work that went into that trail! The boulders, logs and bridges were so well done. In fact I think only 1 or 2 rocks were even wiggly. I’m sure someone has counted all the made steps but suffice to say there’s a LOT of em and it was Tuesday before I couldn’t tell that we’d done the hike.
When we got to the bottom there was one gal there before us. We picked a high spot and hubby stood at different spots to see how bad my lens got blocked if people showed up and ignored the fact that we were there and set up that far in advance.
The ground seemed to be a little more roots and dirt than rock as I set up my tripod. The tripod legs kept going through the root mesh we were standing on. Hubby got back down to look and we are not sure we were really still on the rock but there was half a good tree at the edge so we decided to stay put.
Next came a couple from Montana who were super nice. They even asked if they were in my shot and we visited a bit. They had a video of a large black bear they said walked right up to their car. I meant to thank them but after the action started I didn’t see them again until they were at the base of the rock.
Waiting, waiting and waiting for 10am. Nowhere to sit and my feet were turned at odd angles to stand without bumping my tripod legs. Then the people came, from the left and from the right, with kayaks, with dogs, people of all ages. Hubby counted somewhere around 60! So much for the empty parking lot and hopes of not having my camera blocked. One other tripod carrying guy had been there before and said it took several minutes for it to come over the falls. Adams site said 30 minutes. If they did release it at 10am, it took about 15 minutes but we have no way of knowing when they released it. I kinda thought they’d sound an alarm but they didn’t. If you were there early like we were before they flipped the sign over to say “water release today”, you could’ve been caught off guard unless one of the people in the crowd told you why you might not want to stand at the base. We saw some people cross over West Fork Tuckasegee right at 10am.
I couldn’t wear my glasses to see the falls and my camera controls but my hubby was staring at the top and said here it comes when he saw the first amount of extra water come over. Now, this is a beautiful waterfall without the release with the sheer amount of rock. Then again I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad waterfall. The 150 foot rock face and the fact that you can rock hop around at the bottom (not during a release) would be neat to visit any time. But the sound, the water spray, the sheer force of the wind and water at a recreational dam release is incredible. I really have no words and the video just doesn’t capture it. Logs came over, leaves blew out of trees, we were wet within minutes of it topping the falls. Four minutes of video and I had to clean my lens even though we were probably 150 feet back. For the most part I just set my camera to video so I could be present and enjoy it but I didn’t account for needing to wipe the lens quite so often.
We watched the water cover more and more of the rock face until all the sections merged into one huge amount of water and start coming out in areas to the sides. We watched the base of the falls as the water rose and covered the rocks.
We watched kayakers put in and take off. They guy with the blue tripod said his family crossed over before the release to walk out the other side and he’d go back and pick them up. In hindsight I would’ve paid him for that ride back from the lower trailhead to the upper parking lot where our car was.
Here is my link to the video (kayakers are at end)
Then we started the climb back up. Since it was my birthday my hubby carried my tripod all the way back up for me- well that and he was probably tired of waiting on me. I just do crappy going uphill. My legs could feel it but my lungs, and heart were screaming at me. Should’ve carried water! It took well over twice as long to go back up as it did to get down. A kid was running ahead and then waiting on her parents. When she was out of earshot I muttered something jokingly about being a showoff. Hubby said he could do that too… and he did. According to the time on the photos he cleared that string of steps in 8 seconds – while carrying my tripod and wearing hiking boots. Now this is after the 650′ descent, standing for the release, and almost back up again to the car – plus he’s basically 4 years older than me with a bad back and neck. Next time we’ll try the lower trail while the people who own the land still let folks cross their private land. (Kudos to you!).
When we made it back to the car I was glad I brought shorts to change into. I brought them in case I got my jeans wet if we had to wade back to the bank, but I got them muddy when I had to sit down on the rock to get back down. I was thankful for the fall-like weather because I was hot with it in the 70’s by noon. It was later than I thought it would be and I knew we wouldn’t make it back in time for the reunion picnic so we ate the snacks we brought and took off to see Bridal Veil, Dry Falls, Cullasaja falls and Whitewater falls. We’d been to all of those before except for Cullasaja and High Falls.
I’ve never seen much water coming over Bridal Veil but I always like it because it is one of the ones hubby and I went to before we were married. Wonder if he knew what he started. I’ve got pictures from the late 80’s or early 90’s, 2008, 2013 and now 2018.
Dry Falls- I noticed the need for my grad ND filter – in the bag, not on the camera.
On a different day when my legs hadn’t already been through that morning workout, I’ll look into getting down to the base of Cullasaja falls instead of just viewing from the road. Says it’s very steep and for experienced hikers. I should probably wait until my shoulder is better too as it looks like a scramble. Maybe by then I’ll figure out and remember how to pronounce it (KULL-uh-SAY-ja or cool-uh-SAY-juh)
We pulled in to see this neat bridge at an Art Center, then stopped and had a late lunch at the same BBQ place we ate at when we went to see the bear shadow. I still don’t know the name of it, but it’s good. Oh, where the bear shadow pull-off is they now have a sign that says “Wildlife viewing area.” I think someone has a sense of humor.
The husband swears we’ve been to the platform down the steps at Whitewater falls before (last pic is from there). I only recall (and have pics from) the top of the pavement in November 2009, but I could be wrong. On the pic of us I have it’s funny to me because the little Canon P&S would let you change the timer anything you wanted, like wait 30 seconds take 5 and I have a pic of my much smaller camera bag clipped on my side from then. Now my much larger, heavier bag and more expensive camera won’t let you do that and you can’t just set that camera down on a rock to get a selfie with your spouse.
So by then I was too tired to even think about going home, showering and going back out for my Thai birthday dinner or to the reunion’s last event at Bold Rock. Plus my sweet friend Paula had just treated me to a Thai lunch the day before (Thank you Paula). Sadly my favorite Thai place Lime Leaf closed but she took me to a “new to me” Thai place that was very tasty.
We stopped at the grocery store and got some ice cream on the way home. I showered right away after checking on Tyler, knowing if I sat down first I would not want to get back up.
We watched I Can Only Imagine and it was the best movie we’ve seen in a long time. I highly recommend it! The first time I heard that song was after my dad had passed. It came on again when hubby and I were going to I think the Outer Banks. It was pouring down rain and you couldn’t hardly see the car on the interstate in front of you. I started to turn it up for him to hear it but started tearing up, so I turned it off and told him it was a great song but he’d have to wait to hear it so I could see to drive. It kind of goes with the 21 days of prayer we are doing at church. I’ve been praying for the same family members for as long as I can remember and I’ll keep praying for them because as long as they are still breathing I have hope they’ll accept Jesus into their hearts and spend eternity in Heaven.
The next few days I had a hard time going up and down stairs. My mom asked why I want to do that to myself for my birthday and I kinda wondered as we were climbing back up from High Falls why in the world I didn’t pick wedding photography or something that pays better and requires less hiking than chasing waterfalls 🙂
I’m still moving stuff to the new computer. Some programs are so much easier than others and when I get all my stuff to the new computer I plan to get back on the job of file clean-up. I’ve discovered some programs will just not install on the mechanical hard drive, like On1 and insist on being put on the smaller SSD with the OS. Right now I don’t mind too bad as it feels like summer again but as soon as the crisp autumn mornings start and the leaves begin to change you can bet the mountains will be calling my name.