Saturday, July 18, 2015

the summer of waterfalls: second installment

The McAbee adventurers loaded up again to find waterfalls a couple of weeks ago.  If you don't have kids you may not realize what an ordeal it can be to get a 6 year old and an 8 year old ready for interaction with the world.  Of course, G does it like it's nothing and while she's also getting herself ready.  I, however, struggle to get my stuff done in a morning so adding two other people to my list is tough.  I got up, ran, exercised, ate and then made sure no one had their pants on backwards.  Then I threw a few PB&J sandwiches together, filled water bottles and grabbed my waterfall guides and headed out.  

We live near one small waterfall but all the good ones are at least an hour drive away.  With the guidebook we can plan to hit several waterfalls in one trip.  This trip took us the SC/GA state line.  

 Photos never do waterfalls justice but this is the "Wild and Scenic Chatooga River".  It's a fun and amazing river.  Our trip took us to Bull Sluice, a place where the entire river converges into a narrow chute and drops 10 feet.  The small waterfall is not impressive as a waterfall, but the power of the river is very impressive.

 We arrived just in time to see 3 inflatable rafts enter the area to scout out the class V rapid.  We climbed on rocks while we waited and even got to see 2 kayakers put in right at us and shoot the rapid.  

 The first raft went through fine and the kids were ready to sign up.  The second raft lost a person in the rush of water.  The kids looked like they weren't so sure.  The third raft lost all but two people and the future rafting trip was put on hold.  You can see the second raft going over the falls in the photo.

 Just a few miles away we found a secret waterfall spot called Falls on Reedy Branch.  It's an unmarked spot at a roadside pull off and a very short walk.  It was very quiet and beautiful.  The small creek was home to crayfish and salamanders which kept the kids happy for a long time.  

 The third waterfall of the day was Fall Creek Falls.  This one was way out in the middle of nowhere.  I mean, I live in the middle of nowhere, so I know what it looks like.  But for this one we drove way out past nowhere, took three more turns down dirt roads and kept going.  We actually passed the little kid playing banjo on the front porch.  Our directions were great though, and we stopped at the right stump beside the right green tree and walked right over to the trail.  The trail was steep and we had to use the roots as steps to climb down.  Some trees had fallen recently and we actually had to walk across the creek on a fallen log.  Keep in mind there's a 6 year old and an 8 year old with me.  The beauty was worth it but the area was filled with horseflies who love to bite the top of my bald head so we moved along quickly.

 Here's a shot of the adventurers after we hiked back up the hill.

 I planned this trip around grouping waterfalls.  Knowing my adventure group, I looked first for waterfalls that were less than a mile hike roundtrip.  Then I grouped them by location and headed out.  As we arrived at Brasstown Falls, our last 3 falls for the day at one location, I took one last look at the hiking directions before getting out of the truck.  That's when the words "FYI: Not recommended for small children or dogs" caught my eye.  Bummer.  But what kind of adventurers would we be if we just left without trying?  So we got out and hit the trail "cautiously".  Upper Brasstown Falls (above) was a cool cascade waterfall just a short walk down the trail.  No problem.  False sense of security.

 But for this view of Middle Brasstown Falls with the Upper cascades behind it, we had to get a little scared.  The trail is not so much a trail as it is a narrow steep slope made of tree roots and mud.  There were points where I had to ferry one child across a stretch of the trail holding both hands and have them hold on to a tree while I went back for the other child.  Sensing the (light) danger, they both loved every minute of it.

After making it to the first two falls how could we turn around?  I mean, we could hear the next waterfall just down the hill.  So we trekked onward to see what we could hear.  More steep slopes, more (light) danger and more ferrying children across and more indescribable beauty.  This fall turns at an angle away from easy view and I didn't want to get my feet wet.  I walked out on rocks as far as possible to get this view while the kids chased fish in the shallows.  

This trip put our "The Summer Of Waterfalls" total at 15.

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