16. 9/27/2014: Conley Cove, Rock Jock, L.O.S.T., Little Seneca, Zen Canyon, Zen Point. Rock Jock back to Old Conley parking.
With Steve Villa, Josh Jansen, TJ Smith, Chris Johnson, Luke Wilson, and Chad Collins.
Yeah I know, it’s not even Christmas yet. What am I supposed to do, wait until January 1st to start setting goals for next year? Negative.
So what’s on the agenda? And what do I know of these places?
1. Bonas Defeat Gorge
Bushwhacking a boulder choked canyon that lies adjacent to Panthertown Valley to the north. There is an automatic spillway that opens when water levels are high, and floods the gorge. High sketch factor. I heard there was some work being done in the area, so I don’t even know if it is accessible or not. No attempts in wet weather.
2. Waterfall exploration on Highway 11
If you driven towards Table Rock or Ceasar’s Head on Highway 11 in upstate SC, you’ve no doubt noticed Lower Wildcat Falls along the north side of the road. There are 2 sections of Wildcat further up. Close by are a couple sections of New Millenium Falls and Sweet Thing and Last Thing on Slickum Creek. These are not connected as far as I know, so there’ll be bushwhacking and route finding.
3. Art Loeb Trail
30 something miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Cold Mountain, cutting straight through Shining Rock. I’ve never backpacked for more than 1 night, and this will take some shuttling and definite planning.
4. Henson / Westface / Fantasy
Only 1 sure goal for the Linville Gorge, although I doubt that will be my only trip. I had this trip planned for the end of July 2012 buy it fell through. It will be route finding, scrambling down Henson Creek to the Linville River, up a gully to the top of Westface Rock, if there’s time search for the caves along Fantasy Creek and then backtrack up Fantasy along Futuristic Wall. Snakes likely.
5. Falls Creek Falls
East of Jones Gap in upstate SC, the pictures are impressive! An uphill slog to a complex falls.
Beyond those, I have some things in mind. I’d like to visit Daffodil Flats when it’s in bloom, do a traverse of Big Pisgah Mountain, explore below the cliffbase of Blackrock Mountain and general backpacking for a night or two in Panthertown Valley, go to The Stool at Table Rock, hike down to the Gorilla at the Narrows of the Green River Gorge, bushwhack to the base of Raven Cliff Falls, visit Jocasee Gorges, Congaree National Park, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I’m opening this up for people who would like to join, so by all means, let me know if you’d like to go out adventuring in 2013.
So many things to do and places to explore. I love the Carolina’s. Hopefully I can check one or two of these off my list.
The date is set.
The adventure we have been looking forward to for almost a year is nearly upon us, and we need to do it before Daylight Savings Time is over so we have as much daylight as possible.
I’ve been studying maps, reading trip reports, compiling data, asking questions, going through picture sets on Flickr, building hype, and looking forward to October since last fall.
The Lower North Carolina Wall in Linville Gorge.
Described at the most difficult “hike” in the Gorge, it is actually a complete scramble. Descending down through gullies in the cliffs, hugging walls, fighting briars, climbing trees and ledges, steep elevation, and what are supposed to be the most amazing views in the entire Gorge.
The picture for this post has the LNCW behind me as I’m standing at the edge of Razor’s Edge Rock (a must visit destination in Linville Gorge if you have not been there). The trip will include hiking the Mountains to Sea Trail past the Chimneys to a trail that takes us down to the Mossy Monster descent gully (this is a specific area I need to study. I don’t have a GPS so finding it may prove a challenge). Scrambling down the gully to the base of the cliffs then following the wall will eventually lead us to a ledge that must be ascended. The two options for this are either up a dead tree (dangerous) or a 20 foot ropeless rock climb up to the ledge (also dangerous). Then it will be trying to decide when to head into the bushes towards the Sphinx, the prominent rock feature below the cliffs, which is about 10 stories tall. Once the Sphinx has been conquered, it’ll be back to bushwhacking through briars and bushes until we get to a boulder field at the base of the Amphitheater, the canyon area on the far right side. That will be a stiff uphill climb until we get back out, to where we’ll join back onto the Mountains to Sea Trail. From the point we leave MST to where we are back on it is less than a mile (i think), but the brutal terrain will have us on that route the majority of the day. That’s the best recollection of the route from the data I’ve gathered, and anyone who has been through there already, please correct anything if I’m wrong.
There is much I don’t know, and as October is coming upon us quickly, there is much work and research to be done and questions to be asked. A huge thank you to my friend Bob Underwood for all his help, as well as the guys reports who have done this previously.. Zak Kuhn for all your pictures, Dusty Allison of Blue Ridge Outdoors, Mark Moser, Marshall Weatherman, and the Gorge Rats at LinvilleGorge.net
As someone who was made to marvel, this is going to be worth the effort. If you want to play, you have to pay… that certainly applies to this trip, even moreso than any other rough hikes in Linville.. but I’m willing to go great lengths for these moments.
What started as simply an excited post for an adventure has become a reference point for gathering a few reports and hopefully all the photo sets that have been published online.
For further study, please visit the following links and photo galleries:
“The Lost Boys”
Three guys from Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine do LNCW
“New Years Day hike, with detailed shots of LNCW from across the Gorge at Sunshine Point”
by Michael “Hawk-Eye” Hollar
“LNCW on 11-11-11” by Zak Kuhn
“LNCW on 10-30-10” by Zak Kuhn
(updated on 8-28-2012 to include…)
“LNCW on 12-02-11” by Dusty Allison
“LNCW on 12-04-11” by Marshall Weatherman
(updated on 9-9-2012 to include…)
“Lower NC Wall” by Rickey Shortt
(Updated on 9/26/2012 correcting Zak’s last name from Ford to Kuhn; thanks for the heads up on my error, Zak!)
“LNCW on 9-30-2012” by Zak Kuhn
The best photo documentation of the route to date, with critical turns highlighted.
(Updated on 10-2-2012 to include Zak’s latest photos)
I’ve waited quite a while to go here, and now I’m only a few days away from leaving. I have heard about this “Yosemite of the East” for a good while. I’ve heard about a confusing mess of trails, a land ripe with waterfalls, and 300 foot granite domes. The time is finally coming.
Looking at the weather, it has cleared up to 0% chance of precip on Friday and 10% on Saturday, partly sunny with a high of 66F. This will be perfect weather!
Looking at our route, I intend to keep it pretty much the same as prior planning, but instead of summitting Big Green Mountain, perhaps we will just make a loop up to Little Green Mountain instead of making a figure-8 route back towards Granny Burrell Falls (although we will still pass these falls as we hike the valley). The decision won’t have to be made until we climb the southern end of Big Green Mountain, which looks to be just short of a 500ft climb from the base of the valley if we go to the highest elevation of the summit.
Looking at the companions, as of today, two guys are planning on going with me. One new to our adventures, and one who has shared my “spacious” Marmot Limelight 2P tent with me in TurkeyPen area near Brevard.
Looking at gear, I have an ENO DoubleNest, but no bug net or tarp in the unlikely case of weather.. although there is a shelter there I could hang in. If not, the Marmot Limelight 2P may come, or possibly a Coleman 4P (not sure the model). I will likely pack my Gregory Z35r pack with whichever shelter, The North Face Green Kazoo sleeping bag, Therm-A-Rest Trail Light pad. I’ll likely wear either Timberland hiking boots or Five Ten Guide Tennies, REI Sahara cargo pants, The North Face vapor wick T shirt, bandana, and SmartWool socks. Bear Grylls Ultimate knife will be making its debut.
Looking at food, probably frozen hotdogs packed in that will hopefully be thaw by dinner, not sure on breakfast, beef jerky and Clif bars for trail snacks. Bears are a possibility, so I need to freshen up on how to tie a bear bag.
Looking at going, I’m pumped. Hopefully I can get out of work a few hours early to spend time with Jenny and the kids before I leave for the evening. I hope to rendezvous in Greet and leave from there.
Looking at coming back, I’m shooting for 3pm on Saturday, but that is subject to change depending on how we explore. That’s always a penciled in return time.
If you want to go, you need to contact me ASAP so we can work it in the plans.
Looking to the future, I am anticipating an exploratory trip to Bonas Defeat, possibly hammocking in Big Pisgah near Dismal Falls the night prior. This is all preliminary speculation on routes with very little research beyond knowing the areas exist and are somewhat close to one another. I anticipate this would not be for the feint of heart, though. Bonas Defeat is supposed to be some of the best canyoneering in the southeast. We’ll see what a scrambler can do without the gear.
The Panthertown Valley hike for next month is coming together.
Studying Burt Kornegay’s Map (a great map, with official and unofficial trails), Google Earth (wow!), Backpacker Magazine, Blue Ridge Outdoors, and some other online resources, I’ve put together a rough draft of the route for this upcoming trip. I’ve taken Backpacker’s lollipop route, and adjusted it for an east side entry, and also incorporating Big Green Mountain. This will essentially be a figure-8. So here we go..
May 11th, I hope to be leaving Greenville by 4:00PM which will put us at the parking approximately 5:30PM. Parking at the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead, we will head northwest on the Panthertown Valley Trail, which crosses Greenland Creek via a bridge (or so I read) which will take us through the valley along Panthertown Creek, to the base of Big Green Mountain. This is largely a flat area, which should have plentiful places to pitch a campsite. If we don’t come to any places, once we pass Granny Burrell Falls, there is a shelter we can stay in or near. After morning, we will hike south along Panthertown Creek on the Great Wall Trail with The Great Wall of Panthertown looming over us (this is quite impressive from even Google Earth). Turning north, we’ll intersect with the Big Green Trail and take that to the summit, then down the far more gentle east side of Big Green Mountain. This will put us back near Granny Burrell Falls. From here, we will follow Mac’s Gap Trail to the Little Green Trail, to ascend Little Green Mountain. We will come down the east side and divert to School House Falls, then back up to our initial trailhead.
The mileage is kind of hard to track, but I am estimating between 8-9 miles of hiking, with astounding views.
I have already sent out a few invitations to guys who may be interested, but if you ARE interested in going on this trip let me know.
The Forest Service map does not show the unofficial trails, but it can somewhat be followed for this. Here is the link —-> NCWaterfalls.com – Panthertown Forest map.
If you wish to get a copy of the waterproof map for Panthertown Valley and adjacent areas (Bonas Defeat and Big Pisgah), you can buy it from Slickrock Expeditions.
It’s almost the end of April and I haven’t done one over-nighter yet. Since many of the guys I go outdoors with laugh at me for always planning in Linville Gorge, I’m taking their advice when they tell me, “You know, there ARE other places than Linville…”
But I love Linville.
I came across a brief mention of Panthertown Valley in Nantahala Forest a year or so ago in Backpacker Magazine. It has been dubbed “The Yosemite of the East.” I also said, “yeah right” when I saw that until I read that it earned that name from being formed in the same way as the great western stomping grounds of Ansel Adams and John Muir. Largely, it has been off my radar due to an infatuation with Linville Gorge (rightly so), and the reputation Panthertown has of confusing and unnamed trails. I heard there was a map, but it was only available locally, and it was hand drawn.
Well, I was in Mast General Store downtown Greenville last month and spotted out of the corner of my eye a waterproof map of Panthertown Valley by Burt Kornegay, the same author of the map locally available. The topo map is 1:24,000 and has great detail, even differentiating between official trails and unofficial trails, along with point to point mileage. It will be a great asset.
Backpacker Magazine has a 5.6 mile loop, which I won’t be taking in its entirety, but a large portion of it. I hope to ascend Big and Little Green Mountains. The Great Wall of Panthertown is seen in the foreground, the great granite wall on Big Green Mountain.
Looking at Google Earth, the terrain is definitely more mild than Linville Gorge. I guess I can try something else. Who knows, I may be amazed.
Hopefully, in a couple weeks, this trip will come together.
I was talking to a friend of mine who is going backpacking this weekend. Knowing I probably wouldn’t be going with him due to schedule conflicts (which is indeed what happened), curiosity was still wanting to know his trips plans. In my email to him, I asked, “You’re not going to Linville, are you?”
“Bro, we’re going to Linville for two nights and just hanging around Babel Tower!!” Jealous. I love Linville Gorge.It might be my favorite place ever, and it is with great fondness I recollect Babel Tower because that was my first trip down into that big ditch. Area to grow in: rejoicing in good for my brother (semi-easy) WHILE not having a pity party for me (very hard).
The conversation continues and he tells me that next yea he’d like to plan a 5 or 6 nighter backpacking trip. Whoa, that’d be sweet. Then he drops the bomb…”Somewhere like Yellowstone. If we don’t start planning it now, it will stay a pipe dream. Let’s just go for it!” Staying in character for big adventures, I suggested Zion National Park to go to Angel’s Landing and The Narrows. So that’s what we’re planning.
From Greenville, SC, Utah is a long ways away. Especially Zion, on the west side of the state. I toyed with the idea of what it would take to drive there versus flying. 2,100 miles (roughly) and approximately 34 hours of driving. Ouch.. This will have to be by air.
Yellowstone and Yosemite and Glacier all look like awesome and marvelous places, and a trip to any of them would be amazing. For some reason, Zion holds a peculiar interest to me. Perhaps it’s the ascent to Angel’s Landing and then the descent into The Narrows, from the heights to the depths, that holds me to some romantic outdoors vision of a desert oasis adventure. Perhaps I’ve just seen the scenery and it looks like an awesome place. Perhaps it’s because of all the places I’d like to go, Utah doesn’t have grizzly bears (as far as I know!).
Why not Canyonlands, Bryce, Arches, Capitol Reef, Goblin Park, or any of the other awesome scenic places to visit? Perhaps, for just some reason, I am simply captured for Zion.