Archive for November, 2017

The Rhino Horn Cliffs – 11-5-2016

The Rhino Horn Cliffs (a name given to them by our group, the ‘Camel Servicer`s’ ) are a prestigious series of impressive vertical rock formations that sit on Black Mountain, some 650 feet above Laurel Falls (Hampton,TN). I have looked up at them for well over 30 years now, each time vowing that I would one day stand upon them. That day finally came. It was with much help from my friend and fellow ‘Camel Servicer’, Larry Jarret that would make it all possible. He too had always had this quest on his list and after much research had plotted a route to the cliffs from above them. This required a completely off trail trek that would include a steep climb and an even steeper descent all while navigating in and around private property. It turned out to be the perfect avenue as we would discover that getting down to the lower areas and bases of the cliffs did require using a rope thus the idea of climbing up to the top of the cliffs from the waterfall and gorge below (like we had always assumed would be the way we would go) would not be possible as, it would require some very technical freestyle climbing and ropes etc. On this expedition would be Larry Jarret, John Forbes, my son Tyler Tarpley, and me, the RATman.


The Rhino Horn Cliffs (Photo by Larry Jarrett)


Posted on 30 November '17 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Bonas Defeat Gorge in its Entirety – 10-30-2016

After being defeated by rain on my first trip back on 8-20-2016, a return trip was planned back to the gnarly gorge known as Bonus Defeat. For some history on this area and how it got its name, please refer to my report on that previous trip HERE. On this un-defeated trip, we would successfully imperforate the entire gorge from bottom to top, from the Powerhouse where the gorge ends at its confluence with Wolf Creek to the upper Tanasee Lake Reservoir at its inception. This would be an all day and into the night event despite it being under 3 miles one way which shows the extreme ruggedness of the terrain. Also, we would be taking our time to explore and document every facet of this amazing place which is a daunting task to do in such a short time. After a late morning start and a short hike down the gated road to the river, we soon found ourselves at the lower entrance to the gorge where this awesome journey would begin. Those present would be myself (RAT), my son Tyler ‘Little RAT’ Tarpley, Thomas ‘The Badger’ Mabry, John ‘Gnome’ Forbes , and photographer extraordinaire, Cathy Anderson.


Tyler, somewhere deep within the Bonas Defeat Gorge


Posted on 21 November '17 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

A Sunrise, The Darkside, and a Waterfall – 10-19-2016

With the Fall colors now showing I planned an adventure for my son Tyler and I. This trip would start out a few hours before first light as we would make the drive over to the Grandfather Mountain area and night hike to a point high on Rough Ridge to anxiously await the impending sunrise. From there we would make our way to the ‘Darkside Cliffs’ as I had never been there and it was on our way to our final destination of Harper Falls.


Sunrise as seen from Rough Ridge on Grandfather Mountain


Posted on 13 November '17 by , under RATtreks, Uncategorized. No Comments.

Twisting and Compression Falls – 10-6-2016

With the Fall colors just beginning along with the mild temps and lower water level, I decided it was time for another return trip to one of my favorite locations in the Elk River Gorge which is Twisting and Compression Falls. This would be my son Tyler`s first time to this awe inspiring area and it is always exciting to see the expressions on the faces of first timers especially when they are seeing a place as rugged and special as this one. We would be accompanied by John Forbes who is also no stranger to these parts having been with me on more than one occasion here. Normally we would follow river right along a very hard to find and primitive ninja goat trail that snakes it way along the tops of the many cliffs that line that side of the gorge which does afford a very good high view of Twisting Falls not to mention being able to get down onto the ‘shelf rock‘ just below the base of the falls and then continue on until a super steep descent down the correct off trail route would land us at the base of Compression Falls. Of course here is also ‘the chasm‘ that one can use a rope to climb down to reach the base of Twisting Falls as well, which we did on a previous trip but, since the weather was warmer this time and we were looking for a new adventure here, we decided that we would cross the river and go down river left all the way to Compression Falls and out that way. Our decision was rewarding and paid off with everything we had expected and then some.


Early morning sun making its way down into the Elk River Gorge


Posted on 9 November '17 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.