I talked Laura into a day trip to Upper South Carolina. No camping, she didn't have to hike down all the trails, and there would be Arby's. So off we went.
We started with Yellow Branch Trail. The trailhead has a nice little picnic area with a big gazebo type thing that has a little fireplace and everything. So Laura grabbed a book and settled in there while I headed down the trail to the waterfall. Traffic was light. I only passed one other couple. They had a dog that looked just like a wolf, pitch black hair with black eyes. He was standing at the top of a crest in the hill, just staring down. I didn't know he was there and when my head popped up and saw this animal looking down at me, for a minute I thought my trip was about to take a turn for the worse. Then I noticed his collar and tags. Phew. The dogs sniffed each other, I said hi and bye to the couple and we continued on. The waterfall was awesome. It's a very unique waterfall with the way it cascades down in many directions, somewhat evenly over this cliff face. I came here a while back with Dennis and Evan and it looked like someone had turned the water off. (see below picture).
After that, we loaded up the dogs and headed over to the Stumphouse Tunnel area and Isaqueena Falls. Again, one of the nice areas that South Carolina has done a good job with. Nice picnic tables and well-maintained walking trails. There is virtually no hiking involved to get to the waterfall. After about a 50-foot walk you come to a nice overlook. If you want to go all the way down to the base it's a little further and a lot steeper, so we stopped at the overlook.
Then we headed over to the Stumphouse Tunnel, which is located in the same recreaton area as the falls. I had been to the end of the tunnel a couple of times, but never with Laura. The picture below was actually taken back when Greg and I first visited the tunnel last year.
So with our headlamps blazing we headed in. The tunnel is something like 300 yards long. The park service has built two brick walls into the tunnel with doors to control access. About a third of the way down we came to the first door, and it was locked. Seemed kinda odd for 2 pm on a Thursday in May, but whatever. So we turned around and headed to our next stop.
This one is a bit tricky to find. But once you find it, it's an easy hike. Gravel roads turn into 4X4 roads. Then, finally, you reach the trailhead for Cedar Creek Falls and Blue Hole Falls.
Cedar Creek Falls (above) isn't that impressive. It's a nice cascade over an angled rock face. But just a few short feet downstream is the powerful sluice that is Blue Hole Falls. It's practically impossible to picture the whole thing. The waters of Cedar Creek slip tightly into the rocks and curves around the base of a cliff, and empty into a large pool at the bottom where, when the sun is high and conditions are right, the water turns a dark blue shade.
We spent a lot of time hiking around this area. We were hoping to find a good camping spot for future trips, but there wasn't terrain anywhere that was ideal for a tent. We lounged around for a while and headed out. On one of the tricky parts of the trail leading to the base of the falls, I put my hand down and felt something squishy. I almost crushed this little creature.
Not really that little at all. We headed back up the trail and got back in the Jeep. Next stop was Brasstown.
We've been here many times. If I'm in the area I just have to swing back by. The middle waterfall of the three at Brasstown Creek is just picture perfect for picture taking. Not to mention I had recently heard of a third waterfall a mere tenth of a mile from where we had been hiking at Brasstown. So we sat out to find this waterfall, and sure enough it was right there. It couldn't have been more than a few hundred yards upstream.
After that we headed down and spent the rest of our time shooting Middle Brasstown Falls. Conditions were right and I came away with what I thought was a pretty great shot.
After that we loaded up and headed home. All in all, I would say not a bad way to spend a Thursday.