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Potential 2014 Adventures

Well it’s almost 2014 and there were several 2013 bucket list trips that didn’t happen. Let’s look at some of the thoughts I have for 2014. These are open invite, but some of them will require more gear than just comfortable shoes. I may get them all and I may get none of them, but it’s at least in the ballpark of where I’d like to be journeying next year. I hope some of you will decide to join me.
1. Bonas Defeat
Anticipated difficulty: high, potentially dangerous
Overnight: maybe
This was high on my list this year and it never happened due to the large amount of rain the area got in its prime season, then when the opportunity opened up later in the fall, I had already committed to the Gorge Rat Gathering in Linville. So what puts Bonas Defeat on the list? Not a trail, that’s for sure. I’ve read in articles that it’s been described as hiking down the barrel of a shotgun. It’s a rock hopping scramble that almost guarantees getting wet. It needs to be done when there hasn’t been any rain due to an automatic floodgate at one end that can open and flash flood the whole gorge, making it more dangerous. Recent reports have suggested the danger, though existent, may be over-hyped. The YouTube videos look awesome though. I’d want to visit Paradise Falls nearby on the same trip.
2. Return to Big Pisgah and Dismal Creek
Anticipated difficulty: very high
Overnight: probably
Giant waterfalls, lush jungle landscapes, house-sized boulders, cliff faces, rock walls, and “steep”-doesn’t-do-them-justice ridges. Dismal Creek has been referred to as one of the most foreboding places in the Southern Appalachian Mountains (Jim Bob Tinsley The Land Of Waterfalls). Ever since going to Dismal Falls on Big Pisgah this year, the desire to go back has been growing, even though as I was finishing that first hike it seemed to be one of the most leg-destroying hikes I’ve ever been on. This was originally the “traverse Big Pisgah” plan, but that may not happen due to wanting to be considerate and mindful of not trespassing on private property. While it will probably include a trip to Rhapsodie and Dismal Falls, the real point is to see what’s beyond those explored spots. New territory. What’s in those hills? This is the area that fueled my thoughts of wanting to have a handheld GPS unit. If one got lost in there, they’d be in a world of hurt. Very little traffic coming through here, comparatively. Experienced adventurers only. 
3. The entire Linville Gorge Trail
Anticipated difficulty: moderate
Overnight: probably
It’s 16+ miles from one end of the Gorge to the other, whether we go N>S or S>N is yet to be determined. Though Linville is rugged, I’ve hiked parts of the LGT (albeit probably the easier parts), and I don’t see it as difficult as say, a hike up PinchIn or doing the LNCW/Sphinx scramble. The southern end is a nice walk through the woods, and the northern end has ankle twisting talus covering the path. Probably overnight it and camp somewhere between PinchIn and Conley Cove, which is a section I have not been on but give incredible views of the NC Wall, Ampitheater, and Sphinx from the river.I’ll be using Phil Phelan’s LGHC guide to help plan this one more thoroughly when the time comes, as this is essentially half the circuit of his loop around the whole Linville Gorge. Also, maybe but maybe not noteworthy is that this would be the longest hike I’ve ever done. 
4. Falls Creek Falls
Anticipated difficulty: moderate
Overnight: nope
Not too far from Jones Gap in SC, this is one waterfall that’s too close to home for me that it’s a shame I haven’t been there this far. The guidebooks say it’s strenuous of 600ft in elevation over 1.5 miles, but after hiking in Linville Gorge, that sounds pretty mild. I’ve heard it described has having several different rock characteristics all wrapped up in one waterfall that makes it a very unique experience. Greenville, this one is right in our backyard so I hope some of you go.
5. Two Saddles Loop
Anticipated difficulty: nightmarish
Overnight: probably not
Linville Gorge off-trail trying to “hike” a “hypothetical” loop that reportedly involves crawling on hands and knees through briars and rhododendron and 2 cold river crossings. The map for this can be found on Bob Underwood’s yahoo group for Linville Gorge. It will go down Brushy Ridge Trail, cross the Island Ridge saddle, bushwhack Hyde’s Ledge above the river as it makes it’s way through Babel Canyon, up Henson Creek, and then back out the north quad. Only the senseless need apply for that one. This will be a bleeder, and we’ll likely be mighty confused as to what path to take in certain parts.
6. Babel Tower peninsula exploration
Anticipated difficulty: high
Overnight: probably not
A return to Babel Tower for a thorough exploration which would include Hell’s Ridge Camp, finally doing Avatar’s Rib, overlooks of Babel Canyon, and a lot of cool scrambling with some bushwhacking involved. Only rated high because from what I’ve read and seen first hand, some of the scrambling looks technical. Standing at the top of Avatar and looking down is certainly intimidating, and climbing down is always more difficult than up. The bushwhacking I’ve already done in the area wasn’t that bad.
7. Rim of the Gap
Anticipated difficulty: moderate
Overnight: no
My friend Erich and I have been talking about this hike for a couple years now. It’s in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness in Upstate SC. While the terrain looks steep, we would shuttle and hike from Caeser’s Head down into Jones Gap with cars parked on each end, so I would anticipate the difficulty being less in this direction. Approximately 5 miles of ridge looking down into Jones Gap.
8. Devil’s Fork State Park
Anticipated difficulty: moderate
Overnight: No
My family went with me last year to see the endangered Oconee Bells blooming in April. I’d love to go again, perhaps to a different part of the park, and see some more of the shore. Lake Jocasee is really one of the most beautiful spots in SC, even from the drive up docks at Devil’s Fork.
9. Waterfalls on Highway 11
Anticipated difficulty: high
Overnight: no
This is another carryover from last year, and I almost made this trip mid-December, but the combination of mid-30°temps and rain made me lean toward canceling it. Per the guidebook I’m using, there are 10 waterfalls in this area starting at Wildcat Falls. There are two branches (Wildcat Creek and Slickum Creek) that I hope to follow upstream as far as possible, as far as Persimmon Ridge Rd if that’s possible. There have been some deaths of even experienced hikers at Upper Wildcat, so I would likely not venture to the top of that one, but hopefully Slickum is “actionable.”
10. Greenland Creek
Anticipated difficulty: moderate to high
Overnight: maybe
I’ve seen Schoolhouse Falls on Greenland Creek, but if I’m correct (without looking at the map), Greenland Creek Falls and Carlton Falls are both upstream from there. I’ve been looking at pics of both, especially Carlton Falls, and if love to visit both of those firsthand.