Latest Writings

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.

Davis Cr. Falls (aka Mary`s or Artie Hollow Falls) – 4-28-2017

Only 3 days after our hike to Pete`s Branch Falls, I decided to mark another one off my son Tyler`s list of ‘falls not yet seen’. This time would be an excursion to Davis Creek Falls (listed as aka Mary`s Falls but, known to the old timers of the area as Artie Hollow Falls) via the lesser known and more obscure Davis Creek Trail instead of the more popular route via Phillips Hollow. Once found it is a decent trail to follow to get over the hill and down the almost one mile to Davis Creek where an even better trail follows the creek upstream. From there it is just over 3/4 of a mile up Davis Creek to Artie Hollow (not named on many maps) where you must go right on another stream (away from Davis Cr) on a nearly completely overgrown blue blazed trail. It is about .6 of a mile to the falls over several blow-downs and heavy growth so,  you end up just following the creek up the best way you can. Once you reach the falls the trail actually improves a lot as it continues over the mountain and down into Phillips Hollow in case you are interested in a loop possibility. The total distance from the Jeep to the falls was just shy of 2.5 miles. We got an early start and hiked as fast as we could in hopes of reaching the falls before the bright sun made its appearance.


Davis Creek (Mary`s) Falls (45 feet high)


Posted on 31 January '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Pete`s Branch Falls – 4-25-2017

Perusing over the list of waterfalls that my son Tyler has not yet been to, focusing more on the ones closest to us, I noticed that Pete`s Branch Falls was on that list. I was also aware that it had been well over 20 + years since I had visited there myself. That being said and with the recent purchase of a Jeep, it was decided that would be our next destination. Located within the Horse Creek area it did not take us long to get there and the numerous creek crossings and extremely rough terrain would be a good test for the Jeep. Taking our time not wanting to tear nothing up on an unfamiliar vehicle, we had no issues going in and were soon at the turn off to the trail head. A few mud holes later and we reached the end of the road and were on our way to the falls.


Pete`s Branch Falls


Posted on 30 January '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Flat Creek Falls Overlook – 4-8-2017

I was invited to attend a group hike led by The Badger (Thomas Mabry) in hopes of finding the covert location of the only overlook where Flat Creek Falls can be seen in its entirety. This location has only been documented by a couple of people, one of which being Kevin Adams who is a well known North Carolina Waterfalls author extraordinaire. Flat Creek Falls is located at the Northern edge of Panthertown Valley within the Nantahala National Forest and is listed at 200 feet high.


Flat Creek Falls (Panthertown, North Carolina)


Posted on 24 January '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Small Falls, An Unnamed Falls, and Delsatch Falls – 4-4-2017

After a month and a half of no hiking, I jumped at the first chance I got to get away to the mountains. It had to be somewhere close so I chose some falls in the Clark Creek area that my son Tyler had not yet seen. We left as early as we could but, by the time we crossed the creek several times and got to our first location which would be Small Falls, the sun was just coming over the ridge and we knew then that it would be too bright for getting any decent photos. Since I already had pics of all the falls we would be going to, it did not bother me so we just relished in the beauty that was around us. These falls are only about 15 feet in vertical height but, still worth the short side trip to reach them. We cleaned up some debris before taking what pics we could and then went back down to the main creek to continue on to the next falls.


Small Falls


Posted on 18 January '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Dick Creek Falls – 2-19-2017

It was brought to my attention that some members of the Team Waterfall group would be hiking all weekend in the East Tennessee area and on Sunday would be going to the falls along Dick Creek led by our own resident Gnome, John Forbes. He would be showing them the way to the Upper Falls as well as some of the other upper falls above it as well. That group would be coming in the long way over the mountain from Rock Creek whereas my son Tyler and I would be four wheel driving in from the Limestone Cove side to meet them there. Included in the Team Waterfall group would be John Forbes, Scott Burns, Spencer Clary, Stephanie Brooks, Kyle Logan, Angelina Sujata, Jennifer Loow, Andy Kunkle, Christy Kunkle, Jonathan Vallejo, Mary Vallejo (and their son whom I can not remember his name), Wendy Walker, and Beth Bradshaw. This would be my first time meeting (in person) some of these folks which was one of the reasons I decided to attend this event. Secondly to show some Tennessee hospitality to our North Carolina hiking friends. Tyler and I got there early and ahead of the groups arrival so we proceeded to check out the lower falls and wait for them there.


Lower Dick Creek Falls


Posted on 17 January '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.

Ancient Mule Bank Mine Waterfall – 2-15-2017

Two things you never hear in the same sentence are ‘mines’ and ‘waterfalls’ but, after hearing about my friend John Forbe`s recent discovery of an old mule bank mine that believe it or not, was completely hidden behind a waterfall, I knew I had to see this for myself asap ! Located in the Little Stony area of Southwest Virginia, I was excited as we made our way into the gorge on a chilly morning. Along on this excursion would be our leader John Forbes, Dan Till, Amanda Moore, my son Tyler Tarpley, and yours truly.


(left to right) John Forbes, RAT, Tyler Tarpley) Deep inside the mule bank mine. (Photo by Dan Till)


Posted on 10 January '18 by , under RATtreks. No Comments.