Another trip to panthertown, another example of WordPress getting all my pictures out of order. I think I fixed them.
This was the third try of the annual April backpacking trip. The first one was moved due to rain (resulting in me going anyway – and surprise – getting rained on), the second one was cancelled due to EXTREME rain and thunderstorms. So when this weekend rolled around and it was time to go, a forecast of only a 60% chance of rain on Sunday AFTERNOON, when we should be in the car going home, wasn’t that big of a deal. Just in case, I took my large tent fly instead of the small one. I’m glad I did.
Seven of us met at the normal place for this kind of thing, and proceeded up to the trailhead, after a brief stop at Caesar’s Head.
I was a bit concerned about the availability of camping spots, since the availability of PARKING spots was very slim. There were several cars and even what looked like a church van. We got settled and finally started walking.
The pack seemed heavier than last time – even though I was carrying less crap. Mark informs us that the wild briar tops growing at the edge of the path are edible (which they are). He also lets us know that the snakes like to hang out on the edge of the path. They require cooking, however.
Schoolhouse falls is our first stop. Note the nice sunny weather. Hahahahaha. Standing ankle deep in the cool water was very nice. The falls were running quite well.
We headed out from Schoolhouse falls, over to Little Green for lunch. I tried barefooting again, which I seem to be getting better at. This time wasn’t nearly as painful as last, or so it seemed. It was definitely hotter. I was sort of missing the 45 degrees and rain from last time’s climb up the mountain. Okay, maybe while climbing up, but once at the top, it was nice to sit and not be wet.
I think I stole that picture from someone. My memory card screwed up and dropped a couple of frames, but the view was pretty much the same for all of us.
From lunch, we headed down the hill towards Granny Burrell. There came a point at which Virginia, Amber and I got separated from the rest of the group due to some gear issues. Mark, Alicia, Carol and Cindy went on towards the falls, leaving us to our own devices.
After winding through the Rhododendron forest, we head Granny Burrell falls, and it was time for a nice rest and some water, and some exploring.
When we arrived at the shelter area, I was surprised there was no one around. Having a huge empty expanse, we naturally clumped together all in one general area.
Have you ever cut down a dead tree that’s about forty feet tall, with a chainsaw with a strap on each end? No? It’s something to try sometime, especially when you’re worried that the tree might fall on you or the tents because you did it wrong. But the thundering crash was pretty awesome, and all the little limbs broke off into nice firewood bits.
After setting up camp and eating, four of us walked to the top of Big Green. Our leader entrusted me with three other souls, and luckily I made it to the top with Amber, Alicia, and Carol. Our intent was to sit on top of the cliff and wait on sunset. After being there about thirty minutes, with dark grey clouds coming in, the probability of pretty sunsets being slim, and the growl of something far off in the valley sounding like a bear, a consensus was reached to go back before dark.
By the time we got back, a fire was going, so it was time for another quick Cafe’ Latte drink, and a little post-Big Green dehydrated fruit handful, while we watched the sun go down.
They call 9:00 “Hiker Midnight”. Usually this is a result of people walking all day and being tired, and having nothing to do once the sun goes down, and often hikers get up pretty early the second morning. So, if you hike for a week, suddenly you are up and moving at 6, and asleep by 9 again. This, however, is not my way. I typically get up at 6 and stay up until midnight, so “Hiker midnight” is still way too early for me to get in the hammock and stare at the rain fly above me. Gradually people drifted in and out, and finally out completely, until there were just two of us at the fire. The fireflies were floating about, and the stars seemed to be disappearing. There was a sudden subtle change in the ambient light for just a second.
“Was that lightning?” I asked. Yes, it was, somewhere we couldn’t see, as about five seconds later there was a faint rumble. The fire had died down to coals, so I pushed them into a heap in the middle and retired to my hammock.
Fifteen minutes later (about the time it takes me to change clothes in the hammock, set up my pillow and all my stuff around me) I heard a drip on my rainfly. Then another.
“Oh that’s just some pine straw dropping on the tarp,” I told myself. Nope. Suddenly there was s eries of drips, and I could hear ticks and tocks on the metal shelter roof. It was raining. Someone forgot to appeal to Thor that we were hiking, and could he not wait an extra day? It rained ALL night. I was thankful for several things.
1. I had eaten supper before the “Big Green” hike, and hadn’t drank much upon returning. I had also peed right before bed. I was good through the night.
2. Despite the weight, I brought the BIG rainfly instead of the little one, which extended much farther out and down on my hammock sides.
3. I had taken down my lounge chair, and pushed my pack up under my tarp.
I was NOT thankful about a few things.
1. I forgot my headphones, so I couldn’t listen to a movie or “moonlight sonata” or even Dash Berlin (live in Miami for ASOT 600).
2. My ear plugs went missing, so at two in the morning when the “Snoring Symphony in C Major” began (in stereo – one on either side) I resorted to sticking paper towels in my ears.
3. I was worried that my tarp would leak.
I could NOT sleep. I tossed and turned and sweated to death. I was definitely NOT cold, not in the least. At 5:30 I heard a tent unzip and thought, “Hallelujah!” and began the hammock “birthing process”. After finding pants and putting on my fleece shirt and raincoat, I squirted out the bottom. No one was up. Screw it… I went for a bathroom break, grabbed my food, and hit the shelter. I figured someone would have “cheated” and snuck in with their sleeping bag, but nope. The place was dry and empty. I managed to cook my breakfast and eat it without spilling a drop of fuel or setting anything on fire. It turns out that my stove is a lot like my bear bag. It works PERFECTLY, when no one is watching. Gradually the others drifted in, with stories of went tents, wet bags, and other rain concerns. It took us a couple of hours to pack everyone up and get going. No one was really anxious to get going in the rain, but there was no stopping the inevitable.
Because of the weather we elect to skip the loop around Wilderness falls, and head straight out. The group dons packs and begins the tough slog up Big Green, finally coming together at the top.
The slog DOWN Big Green seemed easier than last time, I don’t know why. Even the slick rocky bits didn’t seem as slick and nasty. Then we got to the creek crossing. Normally it is knee deep on me. This time, it was a little higher.
After the creek crossing, Cindy announces that she will wait as we do the out-and-back to Greenland Creek. Seeing a nice chance for an easy hike, the rest of us abandon our posessions and head through the twisting, mind boggling path that leads over roots, through mudholes, and across boulders. There are a few considerations for Greenland Creek.
1. Give up all pretense of keeping your shoes dry, or:
2. Go barefoot.
Barefoot hiking is one way to reconnect with the Earth. It’s also a way to reconnect with roots, thorns, sharp rocks, horse poo and other pointy painful things. There are a lot of barefoot-friendly trails. Greenland Creek is not. Not wanting to have sopping, ruined shoes, I elected to go barefoot, which was an exercise in masochism. Walking from root to root, I felt like I should be being pushed along by a feirce-looking woman in leather. We finally came to the falls.
Greenland Creek falls WAS actually the brownish color picked up by the camera. I guess so much dirt was being churned up and pushed downstream, it colored the water.
From Greenland Creek we walk steadily back to grab packs, and then on down Mac’s Gap to the cars, through on and off rain the whole way. Then it was down to our typical end-of-hike eating place, the Twin Dragon in Brevard. I guess we looked and smelled like ruffians, because they almost cheated me out of five dollars in change (on purpose?) and they tried to claim one of our group left without paying. Very uncool. Next time, seeing as Hendersonville is just as quick a trip back, I’m thinking of stopping at the Flat Rock Village Bakery. It’s much more my style.
Okay that’s the LAST time I let youtube “fix” a shaky video. They suck. But here it is if you want to see it…
Thank you for visiting.