Archive for February, 2018

Rappelling Trip – 10-12-2017

After trying out our new rappelling gear at Hidden Valley last week, we could not wait to use it again. We just needed somewhere closer to home to go. After doing a little research on the matter, I found out that there are some little known climbing walls at a nearby park about 30 minutes from us. They do not make this known publicly and even the online climbers maps are extremely vague so, I am not going to mention any names or directions here as it is clear that they wish to keep it a secret which I am happy to honor. We got a fairly early start and with our vague map we parked and headed up the trail. Of course it was ‘Deja Voo’ for us as just like last week we again took the wrong trail and ended up climbing another steep hill for nearly a mile, looking for something that was not there ! It was not a waste of time though, as we not only needed the exercise but, we did find some pretty cool stuff along the way including some nice rock formations, huge drop offs, and one of those neat ‘bendy trees’.


Awesome climbing / rappelling cliffs.


Posted on 28 February '18 by , under RATtreks. 2 Comments.

Hidden Valley – 10-5-2017

After recently purchasing a climbing rope and some rappelling gear, my son Tyler and I were very anxious to find somewhere to begin practicing to use it. Although we did get over an hour of free professional instruction from the fine folks over at Rock Dimensions in Boone, NC when we bought the gear, all while using their awesome climbing tower, we knew we would need many more hours of practice to be able to do this safely and correctly. During the training session it was all while ‘on belay’ so we wanted to do a single rope rappel since most of our rope events will require that method at least until one person gets down to the bottom etc. I had heard of some cliffs that were only known within certain climbing communities that were in the Hidden Valley area and having seen some nice rocky outcroppings on top of those mountains from the highway below for many years, I have always wanted to explore that area. The location was brought to my attention again on Dec. 20, 2015 when a climber accidentally fell 50 feet to her death there while rappelling. I have numerous mutual friends that were close friends with her although I only recall meeting her once myself as she was a Linville Gorge Wilderness Ranger for Wild South, an Asheville based conservation group. Such a sad and tragic loss of a wonderful person. We decided it was time to visit this area.


View from the top of the Hidden Valley Cliffs


Posted on 22 February '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

North Harper, Chestnut Cove Branch, and an Unnamed Falls – 10-3-2017

After last weeks trip to South Harper Falls, I decided I might as well take my son Tyler to North Harper and Chestnut Branch Falls as they are in the same area and are on his list of waterfalls not yet seen. There is also another waterfall, an unnamed, dot-less beauty, not too far from there that I have never seen documented before that I was sure we would have to check out also. I have kept this one to myself for a few years now. After another early morning start we would soon be at the trail head and hiking towards the falls. The trail to the North Harper Falls starts near the very beginning of North Harper Creek and continues about 7 miles to where it ends at Wilson Creek. It passes by numerous known waterfalls such as North Harper, Chestnut Cove Branch, Bard, and Harper Falls as it is joined by Harper Creek (the one that comes down from South Harper Falls) not to mention numerous smaller, unnamed falls in between. It has always been a favorite route of mine to hike and camp on. There are many other side trails coming in from both sides which provides unlimited hiking loop possibilities as well. From the Jeep it did not take long to hike the not quite a mile distance to the top of North Harper Falls.


Lower part of North Harper Falls


Posted on 9 February '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

South Harper Falls – 9-27-2017

First off,  I must state the following DISCLAIMER ! :
There are NO good pictures from this trip !!!!!

This is due in part to mainly two reasons. 1. The sun was intensely bright the entire time. 2. I was using a new pocket cam for the first time and I did not get the settings figured out during any time on this trip ! I may also add that our purpose of choosing this location was primarily to check another one of Tyler`s list of places he has not yet been to and, for us to swim in the ‘Hillbilly Rock Quarry‘ at the base of the falls. Besides, I already have several decent pictures of these falls from previous visits so I was not overly concerned with taking pics on this outing.


Blurry view of the early morning sunrise as we enter into North Carolina. The mountains were calling so we had to go !


Posted on 7 February '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Work Trips on the AT – 6-3-2017 & 9-20-2017

Work Trip: 6-3-2017 :

This years annual growth cutting on my Appalachian Trail section was done earlier in the year than I usually do it. This was in part to a suggestion by the CMC Trail Supervisor (Tim Carrigan) who wanted to get together to finally meet us in person and help out on my section at the same time. In other sections the growth had been much higher but, it was not that bad on mine except for the few known trouble spots. Now that my section has been split in half (as per new ATC rules and regulations in regards to how long a section can be) I have lost half my section to a new maintainer 🙁   I do however, now have a key to the gate and access my part via Whistling Gap which is a plus and something I have been trying to get for over 25 years. Tyler and I got there early and was already halfway up the mountain by the time Tim and his two dogs caught up with us. Unfortunately his weed-eater would not start when he got there so he had to leave it behind and share our sling blades in order to help us out. I was glad to hand mine over and do some hand clipping instead ! It was a warm and sunny day and I did not take many pictures but, we did cut the entire section to the top of Little Bald and back. It was good to finally meet Tim in person and have some help working on the trail.


A beautiful section of ferns that I have purposely selectively cut around for over 25 years so that they would choke out any weeds from growing, high up on Little Bald.


Posted on 6 February '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Wilderness Falls – 5-25-2017

After nearly a month without any hiking, it was definitely time to get back into the woods ! With water flowing at decent levels, I chose another waterfall off my son Tyler`s list to take him to. This time we would be going to Wilderness Falls (previously called ‘The Triplets’) which is a trifecta of three falls on a nameless creek in a remote area of Clark Creek, discovered and named by my good friend and long time hiking buddy, Tommy ‘Bol’Dar’ Warden. All three falls are completely off trail and getting past the extremely vertical terrain of the middle falls is very difficult and is not advised. Most people who attempt these hike up from the bottom and go past the lower falls to the base of the middle falls and back out and then try their best to find the upper falls from the top down which I can tell you, they are very hard to find ! Only a very few hard core, experienced, off trail hikers have climbed or descended the middle falls. I have personal climbed and descended both sides and on this day I would be going my favorite route which is from the top down. With threats of afternoon rain showers we got an early start and hoped for cloudy but, dry skies.


Lower half of Upper Wilderness Falls


Posted on 2 February '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.