1st waterfalling day in a year for my 51st + 1st Autumn waterfall for good measure (4 days, 7 waterfalls = one long post)

I am still playing catch up from basically a year hiatus from posting on here. Once I get caught up a bit, it’ll go back to the less frequent posting, hopefully without another year-long absence. If you’re not interested in waterfalls or WNC you can skip this long one. 🙂

Prooving again that the best-laid plans are better when they’re flexible.

We have not been waterfalling since we tried to see English Falls on my last birthday… a year ago (and a year late in posting about it). This one is still delayed but not as bad. My good cameras were not really off the shelf and we didn’t go on a waterfall outing not one single time in a year as we worked on building the new house, so we planned to go for this birthday. All work and no play well, you know the saying.

Covid played an unwelcome role in my big 5-0 and I wasn’t planning to let it alter another ever again. Then hubby agreed to play in a golf benefit tournament on my birthday, so we planned to go a day late. Turns out I got more celebrating this way 🙂 Hubby had a job lined up for Tuesday which was the better weather day, then the golf on my birthday, then our waterfalling. Tuesday he left for work but with delays, he came home asking “did I want to head out later than normal or wait till Thursday liked planned?” The weather called for a bit cooler but a higher chance of rain, so I said sure, let’s go. I didn’t have my camera bag packed and I would’ve done Tyler’s meds and my full coffee pot consumption a little different but seize the day and all…

Pre-birthday: We headed to a bit higher elevation in Franklin, about 90 min away. We missed the turn-off, and took a very curvey 38 to backtrack. It was about lunchtime so I googled gluten-free near me and we chose the Gazebo Creekside Cafe. Friendly staff and not too bad of a wait for how busy they were. Seems the locals know you’re supposed to seat yourself. We picked this because Google showed it to us when we typed in Gluten Free. Sadly, they had nothing gluten-free. Thought the listing might be unknown to them, but they replied to my review that they offered “salads”. Not really what my man wants to eat before hiking. The celiac ordered a burger without a bun. It came in a plastic container with plastic utensils to cut it to eat. Tasted good though.

First up was Rufus Morgan Falls (Rough Fork Falls) because we thought we were the closest to it. Turns out there’s a Rufus Morgan Way, Rufus Morgan Rd AND Rufus Morgan St but we got there despite not being as close as we thought. There had been lots of maintenance done on the large downed trees to cut and clear the path on this trail. There was sun at the top of the falls and other people were there. We crossed water where steps used to be and there was water over the trail. The other couple was nice enough to let me take a few pics before walking up to the base in front of me, but I forgot to take a video.

Big Laurel Falls

Big Laurel Falls was nice, all except for the bridge that I crossed alone, and it still made me motion sick. We passed a few people going in but had it to ourselves for a bit where I went out and sat on a rock to get my pics and video. A couple with a newborn showed up so we left so they could have it to themselves too. There was a very cool tree on the trail. The tree looks to me like a fairytale and should be in a Once upon a time setting so that’s what I decided to do to it with Topaz Impressions. Just down from the trail two creeks flowing from different directions merged into one. The picture of it really doesn’t do it justice.

Mooney Falls / Hemp Patch Branch Falls was the last for the day. It was after 4pm and we still had the drive home. This was the shortest walk and I didn’t get my tripod back out. (really I know, my bad). Pic’s not horrible considering it was a handheld long exposure. I think the recent rains from Fred may have moved some of the trees around on this one. We did pass a huge area where a landslide just demolished the side of a mountain but I didn’t have my camera out and forgot when we were passing it on the way back home. The devastation from Fred is very evident here in WNC. I’ve seen many posts from other waterfallers and so many will never be the same.

That’s the longest I’ve left Tyler home since we’ve been in the new house but he got a new bed out of it 🙂 and I checked in on him with the netcams.

For my birthday day my mom (yes, I’m aware her skinny self looks like she could be my sister- I’ve been told) treated me to Thai Spice even though she hates it, then she came back to my house to eat leftover BBQ. The picture would’ve been a lot better if we hadn’t been squinting into the sun. She also gifted me a massage. I haven’t had one in 8-10 years. Looking very forward to that! Then hubby treated me to Champas, which he doesn’t like it either. We were going to go to Marble Slab afterward but while waiting for the downpour to end I checked my phone and it said ‘closed permanently”. Guess it was another victim to the shutdown economy. Sad.

I bought myself a small cake when I went to the grocery store, I even stuck a candle in it, sung myself happy birthday and made a wish. I had told hubby he didn’t need to make me a cake that he couldn’t eat unless he did a gluten-free one he could enjoy too.

I received the most beautiful birthday card handmade by my talented friend Paula. So purrfect and I think Tyler approved. Then we went home and watched (based on a true story) Breakthrough. Great movie even if I swelled my eyes up crying. Now I’m looking forward to seeing Show me the Father.

Post-birthday: Was when hubby and I originally planned to go hiking, we decided, “what the heck” and went again despite the forecast. This time we headed to Panthertown Valley. We had one doe cross the road in front of us, and the skies didn’t look promising all day but we get in a really nice day of waterfalling.

‘Even after reading and re-reading Adams description in his waterfall book we weren’t quite sure about which way to start on the loop to see these 3 falls but we were happy we did it in the order we did, hiking right at 4 miles. Guess we should’ve picked up the book A Guide’s Guide to Panterhtown. It only made sense to me after I saw our trip map.

When we got to the spot, there were SIXTEEN other cars. This is during the week after school started back. We passed a few people right off but then we had 2 of the waterfalls to ourselves. In hindsight, I should’ve looked here first. https://www.hikewnc.info/trailheads/panthertown-valley/

We started with Wilderness Falls (Double Knob Gap Falls), passing a make-shift-looking den. All 3 of these waterfall trails you were walking on roots where you could see the ground under the person in front moving up and down. We passed lots of sandy areas and had the trails mostly to ourselves. Hubby said he expected to see a deer. We did pass a spot and heard a rattle. We just stopped moving and looked around before moving our feet. If it was a rattler letting us know we were too close, we didn’t see it. We continued down the trail but I wish I’d recorded the sound. Guess the thought of venomous fangs sinking into my bare legs because I couldn’t spot where the sound was coming from was enough stronger than the urge to record and share it. I had just commented what a nice trail it was when in few minutes it turned into a swampy mess. Reminded me of earlier in the week when hubby commented it was the least congested he’d seen Interstate 26 when boom, it looked like the normal parking lot it so often is.

Okay back to the falls. Wow, just like Adams said, I did not expect to see falls that tall there! I took off my shoes and socks and got out in the sandy bottom part at the base. I was sitting on a downed tree just admiring the falls when it started to thunder and lightning. I wished I’d taken a horizontal pano or walked farther downstream as it was tight trying to fit the entire falls in the shot from that close. When thunder was overhead I wanted my feet out of the water.

Then to Frolictown Falls, good thing hubby had taken a photo of the directions because when we hit the T intersection coming from Wilderness Falls, I would not have thought to continue straight ahead off the trails. I liked this one a lot, it reminded me of Schoolhouse Falls. I really did want a photo from the other side of the water but with it thundering and lightning we decided not to cross in the water, plus I still wanted to see Granny Burrell Falls. Odd tidbit here – I didn’t realize until I went to add it to my list of visited falls but this 131st waterfall (I think) is the first waterfall I’ve been to that started with an “F”. I could’ve sworn I’d taken a video here but between Lightroom and On1 photo issues, I couldn’t find it in my dump folder. In fact, for some reason, I had to edit and put back the time and date on all the video files because they changed to the date I got them off the SD card.

The last of the 3 was Granny Burrell Falls with all its sandy areas. This is where we discovered where all the humans that belonged to all the cars were. I’m glad we didn’t do this one first as the group of university kids were finishing up what looked like a class reading, not too long after we got there. I thought I shot a video here too from the falls down the creek to the sandy area but I can’t find it either.

On the way back from that one we passed a couple coming out from the side path to Wilderness Falls who said they’d seen a deer and fawn.

We passed two pine tree forests. The first one someone had set up a fire in so I couldn’t really do my pano there but I did get photos I like anyway. The second one I shot on the way back from Granny Burrel Falls was perfect for pano. I’ve been on the lookout for those for ages! In fact, I even went with a photo friend to Warren Wilson in search of one that I never found. I remember walking in a tree grove on the way to my Uncle Lee’s from when I was a kid and I wanted a photo of one. Now I have it. I’d love to go back in winter with a snow dusting there.

On the way back we stopped at the Overlook, either called Salt Rock Overlook or Blackrock Overlook, which overlooks Panthertown Valley. Not sure what mountain is what but I read on RomanticAsheville.com that we were looking at “dome-like faces of Big Green Mountain Summit and Little Green Mountain.”

How in the world we didn’t get soaked is beyond me. We heard it but other than having the breeze blow water on us from the trees we never really got more than sprinkled on. As we got back on the part of the loop and headed back to the truck it was obvious it had rained there. We’re both glasses wearers. It’s annoying to be out in the rain and still need to see where you’re going when the get rained on. I was actually wondering about getting a pair made in the reverse of what I have now. I need the distance for seeing past my arm length which includes the ground I’m walking on, but I have to tip my head down because those close up of the bifocals I need for my camera are on the bottom. If that was reversed I could walk and see the path ahead and only look through the tip-top and my camera. Just a thought.

I love going to higher elevations here in WNC in summer and SC in winter. When we left around 3pm it was 69 degrees. It was upper 80’s when we got back to downtown.

I can’t express how much it means to me that my mom and hubby try to eat at places they really don’t want to for me, and that my hubby will go hiking and waterfalling with me even though I’m sure he’d rather be on a golf course. I feel blessed beyond measure.

I am having major photo editing software issues (see post on it from earlier if you’re interested). It was a long struggle and hassle just to open these photos from my camera. Spoiler alert: I chose On1.

As to not bore those uninterested in waterfalls with another post, I’m tacking on one more we did on the First full day of Autumn to Twin Falls in Pisgah Forest. LOVE this time of year!

This was to Twin Falls in Pisgah. We’ve hiked to Avery Creek and Clawhammer in the past but since hubby doesn’t like the idea of trying English Falls or Bonas Defeat, or even Steels Creek 😦 I picked Twin Falls after he asked “have you really seen ALL the easier falls? “

Right at the first water crossing, we could see Fred had been through. First pic on left is from September 2020, the collage 6 pack is from September 2021- first top left pic is same footbridge minus a log and a handrail. I didn’t realize we’d hit the same area in September of each year. Guess we were trying to get there before Pisgah closes the roads. I can’t cross a log without losing my balance and even though surefooted hubby offered to take my backpack with my camera and cross with it, I chose to take my boots and socks off, roll up my pants over my knees and wade across. I hadn’t packed a towel because I didn’t think I’d need one. Hubby offered for me to wipe the dirt and sand off my feet on his jeans and to thank him I hoped up hitting him in the glasses with the top of my head while trying to hop over and get my other foot out. “Sorry husband”.

So many downed trees and bridge parts washed into debris piles with them. Twin Falls was taller than I’d expected after seeing Avery Creek. We were going to see Upper Avery but with all the downed bridges I kinda lost what “second footbridge” we weren’t supposed to cross before making the turn to see it. I also lost count of how many times we crossed over that river one way then the other in our 5-6 mile hike that day. The weather was terrific! I used my camera backpack (and accidentally picked up the heaviest of my tripods) and my back was hot. I mentioned I was glad I hadn’t dressed any warmer and hubby replied he was glad he hadn’t dressed any cooler. We’ve been together long enough I remember when this was reversed. I wore my new hiking pants. I finally get a good leather belt at Apple Festival and I had no belt loops plus I couldn’t use my camera backpack with something else on my waist. I may have looked stupid in shiny like polyester parachute type pants but they do dry quickly and it was nice to not have them stretch all out on a hike like my jeans do.

My hiking boots fell apart on this hike. I’ve had them since 2-12-12 but really haven’t worn them probably more than a year’s worth of times. Wondering how I knew that? 2012 was the year I did a 365 project. In 9 years they probably dry rotted. The next pair is going to have better traction and be waterproof! Or quick-dry still with ankle support. Recommedations appreciated. I saw no way to get both sides of Twin Falls in one photo even if I tried to do a pano they were too far apart with too much foliage in-between. Part of the trail had an odd concrete-looking part and we also saw a box I’ve never seen on a hike before. Said something about geocaching. I figured it just had a trail cam in it. It had sun hot spots by the time we got there but as much as I like to photograph I’ve got to remember it’s about the journey with my soulmate too 🙂

Video is here: https://youtu.be/OsO9YgoPxT8

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6 thoughts on “1st waterfalling day in a year for my 51st + 1st Autumn waterfall for good measure (4 days, 7 waterfalls = one long post)

  1. Anne Mehrling

    Your photos are fantastic. Having failed to finish the trail to Catawba Falls, I have a healthy respect for all the rough hiking you did. I enjoyed your narrative and the photos — the best way for me to experience waterfalls now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. KiM Post author

      I wasn’t thrilled with my Twin Falls pics with the hot sports and my hips/legs actually are still a little sore from climbing over and under the trees I guess. I went way too long without walking in the woods! Thankfully WNC still has so many not too hard to get to. I’m hoping that I still have a few hard ones in me. Wondering what my next focal point will be to point my camera when I too can no longer get to most waterfalls?


  2. annemariedemyen

    I love every one of your photos. What an amazing way to spend time with your husband! I wish we could go hiking on my husband’s days off but he walks so much – in work boots on cement floor, he cannot handle it on days off. Happy Birthday! Glad you had such a good time celebrating it.


    1. KiM Post author

      Thank you. 🙂 My hubby is in work boots the majority of the time and I’m grateful especially with his bad back that he’ll do this with me. I have to say though, I also enjoy just sitting on the porch and visiting with him too. There is no one else I’d rather spend time with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. annemariedemyen

        Me too. Dan and I are always happy to be together. I am perfectly content to be at home – especially out in our yard in the summer. I do enjoy finding blogs like yours though, full of beautiful photos of waterfalls and hiking trails!



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