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.

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Tyler, somewhere deep within the Bonas Defeat Gorge

Just beyond the ‘Welcome Sign’ you are met with a very large and beautiful reflection pool where you either scramble around the large boulders along the left side following a primitive ninja trail or swim across it, the typical patented Scott Burns method. We all opted for the former. With some Fall colors visible, the pristine beauty of the gorge was instantaneous.

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As the journey begins a few of us did stop to smile for the camera(s) (Photo by ‘A Badger Selfie’)

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RAT and Little Rat about to cross the bridge over the Tanasee River (Photo by Thomas Mabry)

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Crossing the river on a private bridge we could see the nice colors between us and the power station in the distance

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Me under the welcome to Bonas Defeat Gorge sign (Photo by ?)

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Posing beneath the welcome sign with Tyler in the distance wondering what is taking so long ! (Photo by Cathy Anderson)

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Tyler at the start of the Bonas Defeat Gorge (Photo by Cathy Anderson)

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The large and deep reflection pool that is the entrance to the gorge. If you look closely you can see a Gnome posing on a rock.

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Some ‘male models’ waiting on Cathy to put them to work.

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Looking back out of the gorge across the huge reflection pool that is the entrance to this lower end of the gorge

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Tyler makes some last minute adjustments under the ‘welcome’ sign

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Tyler waiting patiently wondering what the hell is taking everyone so long,,,,

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Tyler`s view of us under the welcome sign (Photo by Tyler Tarpley)

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Tyler still wondering what the hell is taking everyone so long ?? Behind him you can see the start of the gorge. Without having to wait for ‘photographers’ Tyler could have done this trip in only a few hours !

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Finally making some progress we arrive at the slot canyon of Bonas Defeat

The going was slow as we were obviously taking too much time to photograph and enjoy the scenery from the get go which was apparent by watching my son Tyler disappear far ahead into the gorge and then reappear just within sight as he was standing and waiting on us with that ‘What`s taking so long ?’ look ! Eventually we all made it to the first main event which we call The Slot canyon of Bonas Defeat. Here the gorge deepens and narrows to form the slot which a few blog authors I have read stated that they could not proceed any farther and aborted to the woods to get around it. I personally find this puzzling as when I see a slot canyon my strongest desire is to be deep within the gut of it. Granted, a few years ago it was possible to swim into the small cave on the lower end of the slot and climb up or rope up into the slot canyon but, that route is now blocked by massive flood debris so the only other option is to climb it which we did along the top river left ledge. Like many places within the gorge, this would not be possible if the rocks were the least bit wet and a fall from the top of the slot canyon would not end well so, great caution needs to be observed here. Besides the risk of drowning from a random dam release (which is controlled from a location hundreds of miles away from the gorge) another hazard is the many potholes that are found throughout the gorge. Some of which are very deep and filled with water and all with sloping sides. If you were to accidentally slip into some of these and if you were alone, you most likely would not be able to get yourself out and it would be a long wait before someone came along to help you.  We spent a lot of time at the lower end of the slot which is really unavoidable due to its awesomeness.

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Me at the lower entrance to the Slot Canyon (Photo by Cathy Anderson)

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Small falls and Tyler at the lower end of the slot canyon

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Lower end of the slot canyon

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There are many oddly spaced potholes here and everywhere throughout the gorge. I can only imagine how many years it takes for water to bore these out.

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John ‘hanging around’ the lower end of the slot canyon

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Tyler and The Badger in the belly of the lower end of the slot canyon. You can see the large ‘clog’ that marks about the halfway point of the slot.

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Rat gnome posing at the entrance to the lower end of the slot canyon (photo by ??)

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This is what I call ‘the clog’ where about halfway through the slot canyon the passage becomes impassable. (Pay particular attention to the old log in the top left of this image as you will see it from the backside in pics to follow)  You used to be able to swim into a small cave at the base of this (see the dark crack at the bottom) and climb up through the narrow crack to continue but, that is completely filled with debris now. The only way around is to climb it.

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I call this the ‘dolphin rock’

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John and Badger at the lower end of the slot canyon

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Modeling at the lower end of the slot canyon (Photo by Cathy Anderson)

Tyler and I were the first to climb up and over to the top right side of the slot (as seen from looking up river)  and it was then that Tyler discovered a new entrance to the gut of the slot that was officially named ‘Little Rat Crack’. This was an awesome shortcut that avoided having to climb over several house size rocks to get around to the top entrance of the slot to be able to come back down into it. The crack led into a cave-like passage that led right into the slot canyon. This would be one of the highlights of this adventure. We waited there for the others so we could share this discovery with them.

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Now on the other side of ‘the clog’ on the top ledge along the right side (facing upstream) , I am close to the top edge of the slot canyon

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At the upper end of the top of the slot, looking up river, I see the crack ahead of me.

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Looking back from the top of the slot canyon, I can see Cathy (Neon green) still with the others on the other side of the ‘clog’ .

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Tyler returning from his exploration of the crack which runs underneath where I am standing.

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After checking out the Little Rat Crack, the Badger took a more formal approach by climbing over this huge rock slab (and several more) to reach the upper end of the slot canyon`s entrance

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Going through the Little Rat Crack

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Me posing inside Little RAT Crack. You can see Tyler (blue) behind and below me as he is down in the slot canyon. This is the best picture of the inside of the crack. (Photo by Cathy Anderson)

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after exploring the crack, i too went around to the upper end of the slot so that I could view it from that vantage point. Here you can see as far as the ‘clog’ which is the ‘fish rock’ that stands vertical with the old log at its top right. You can see this log from the other side as well.

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Looking back I see Tyler taking a pic of the slot canyon from his position at the upper entrance to it.

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John in the belly of the slot canyon below me as he has just emerged from the Little Rat Crack which is just behind him

Everyone loved the Little RAT Crack and soon we were all in the belly of the slot canyon to which we explored every facet of it. This would include a newly named (by the Badger) waterfall known as the Bonas Defeat Slot Canyon Falls the base of which is actually where the slot is now clogged up and passage through that route is no longer possible. The falls are amazing and we all took turns checking them out along with exploring each side of the high walls that line the slot. There was actually a photo session held deep in the Little Rat Crack with male model John Forbes and myself ! I am sure we spent too much time here but, this slot was worth it, or so I was telling myself until we were walking out in the dark later that night !

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Tyler making his way down into the slot canyon with John looking into the crack shouting to Cathy who is inside the crack at this time. She is coercing John into climbing back up into it for a photo shoot !

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John climbs back up into the Little Rat Crack where a photo shoot begins

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The Badger and Tyler making their way deeper into the slot. getting around this deep pool was the first challenge.

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Meanwhile the photo shoot inside the crack continues !

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Here you can see Tyler chimney climbing his way to the top of the fish rock that is the clog of the slot canyon !

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Tyler figures out that the sides are getting wider than he can reach before he reaches the top !

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Here the Badger is standing directly under the fish rock where the main clog is at the base of the newly named Bonas Defeat Slot Canyon Falls. The river slowly strains through the debris there. Used to one could jump or rope down into the cave like room there and swim out to the lower end of the slot canyon but, that is now completely blocked.

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The Badger is deep in the slot at the base of the falls under the huge fish rock at the ‘clog’ .

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Looking back at Tyler and John as John has now finished the photo shoot and is ready to explore the rest of the slot.

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Looking back through the slot canyon as John prepares to cross the deep pool to get to where the Badger and I are.

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The RAT crawls around in the slot canyon (photo by: one of the others, sorry I do not know who actually took the pic)

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I think the expression on John`s face tells you how cold the water is !

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Like a fly on wall Tyler is able to get around the pool without getting wet !

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Up close and personal with the fish rock. Here you can see the old log at the top of the clog that I pointed out from the lower end of the slot.

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Colorful rocks and leaves at the base of the slot canyon falls

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John and the Badger at the base of the slot canyon falls at the base of the fish rock and clog.

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Lower part of the slot canyon falls

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John in the bowels of the slot canyon

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Upper part of the slot canyon falls

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More of the slot canyon falls

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Part of the slot canyon falls

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Looking up at Tyler from deep within a crack of the slot canyon

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The slot canyon has a lot to offer

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Action shot within the slot canyon

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“Excuse me while I kiss the sky”

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Slot Canyon Falls

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Slot Canyon Falls

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The Badger and I at the base of the Slot Canyon Falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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Remember that old log I was talking about at the lower entrance to the slot canyon at the top left of the clog ?? Here I am almost up to it now, from the opposite side !

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Looking up at John who is standing on the very narrow top edge of the fish rock

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Profession male models posing for the camera (Photo by Cathy Anderson)

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Cathy doing her thing in the slot canyon (Photo by John Forbes from atop the fish rock)

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Profession male model John Forbes gnome poses while Tyler, a model in training was instructed to ‘act casual’ for this shot ! (Photo by Cathy Anderson)

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Almost there !

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Finally at the old log at the top of the clog, I can look down on the lower end of the slot where we were earlier.

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View looking down river from the top of the fish rock

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Looking down at the deep pool of the lower part of the slot canyon as seen from atop the fish rock / clog. How cool it would have been to be able to swim through that and into the crack to enter the upper part of the slot canyon !

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Lower part of the slot canyon as seen from the top of the fish rock

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Looking through the top of the upper part of the slot canyon from high atop the fish rock

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From my perch on top of the fish rock i can see John maneuvering in the bottom of the slot canyon

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John down in the slot canyon

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Looking up the spine of the fish rock you can see how narrow it actually is

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An arch over a deep pothole on the side of the slot canyon

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Me sitting beside the arch deep within the slot canyon (Photo by John Forbes)

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From my position in the slot I could see Badger making his way out of the top end of the slot canyon.

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Climbing out of the slot canyon

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I had to say my goodbyes to the fish rock

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I found this very tight crack to climb out of the upper end of the slot canyon. I had to remove my pack and squeeze all the air out of me to get through it !

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As I emerge from the tight crack I found and came up for air, this was my view of the uppermost end of the slot canyon I still had to negotiate. I would climb the rock closest to me and follow the left side route.

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Another look back at the slot. It`s a hard place to leave.

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Yet another look back (see what I mean ? )

After a long time in the bowels of the slot, we finally climbed out and made our way further upstream into the gorge. From the top of the slot canyon I could see The Badger and Tyler far head at what I knew to be Granny`s Kitchen yet, I could not stop looking back through the amazing slot canyon. I took several more pictures of it until I broke away and focused on the next big thing where I would join the others ahead. John and Cathy would bring up the rear which allowed for many different images from various angles to be had which is a bonus in Bonas Defeat as it allows for more pics that display the scale of things found there (pun intended).

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The RAT climbing high above the Slot Canyon (Photo by Thomas Mabry)

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The route to my right. I chose left

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A higher view looking back across the slot canyon. I am waiting on John and Cathy to appear.

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Looking ahead I can see the Badger and Tyler already at Granny`s Kitchen.

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Zoomed shot of badger and Tyler ahead at Granny`s Kitchen (you will need to look closely for Tyler`s blue shirt !!)

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I zoomed these shots cause I knew they would be moved by the time I got up there !

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Looking towards Granny`s Kitchen

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As I am still at the top of the slot canyon, looking back once again I now see John as he appears from the slot ! Time now to move forward !

Having seen pics of the falls and numerous potholes that makeup granny`s Kitchen before, I knew what to expect but, they can not replace seeing it in person. Needless to say, we spent a lot of time in this area as well. It is possible to spend an entire day at any of these unique features of the gorge but, with much larger obstacles such as the Conundrum and the Fish Face Rock area ahead, along with the sun becoming noticeably lower in the sky, we knew we should pick up the pace. Yeah right !

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Looking up river at Granny`s Kitchen ahead

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Tyler lounging above Granny`s Kitchen Falls (I am not sure which of the other took this picture)

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Tyler`s view from his siesta spot high above Granny`s Kitchen Falls as he sees us all coming towards him with the upper entrance to the slot canyon just behind us (Photo by Tyler Tarpley)

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John adds some scale to Granny`s Kitchen as Tyler takes a siesta on top of the huge rock beside it.

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John and Badger at Granny`s Kitchen. Like a good dog Tyler has gone ahead as he easily tires of waiting for us slow pokes to move on.

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Badger gets intimate with Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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I took a minute to look up and enjoy the vivid Fall colors

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The Gnome is Gnomin` around while badger plays Whack A Mole in one of the potholes !

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Tyler at the top of Granny`s Kitchen falls with that ‘Hurry the hell up” look on his face ! I had waited a long time to get a shot of the falls without a person in it,,,, and it still never happened !!

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Tyler atop Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Some of the many potholes carved out at Granny`s Kitchen

I had carried my larger camera and tripod along on this adventure but, due to the extreme ruggedness of the terrain and the time that was consumed by traversing it, I only got it out one time and that was at Granny`s Kitchen falls. The following are the only images I captured with it:

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Badger at Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls . I love the heart shaped potholes here.

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Perhaps the best shot I got of Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Granny`s Kitchen Falls

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Me taking pics at Granny`s Kitchen Falls (Photo by John Forbes ?)

After leaving Granny`s Kitchen Falls, the gorge is deceiving as it looks like it widens and gets easier. That is short lived as it becomes more and more gnarly the farther you go. The sides become higher and the rocks become MUCH larger and to me it was like suddenly being on another planet. You are faced with multiple obstacles all stacked on top of one another like a puzzle, only you have multiple choices available to you based upon your choices and individual skill sets. The members in this group were all right at home in this element and enjoyed every inch of the challenge with much joy. Making our way around, over, and under huge apartment sized rocks, crawling through keyholes and cracks we slowly made our way up to Granny`s Pantry Falls, the Conundrum, past more small waterfalls and potholes until we finally found ourselves at the base of the great Bonas Defeat Wall. The pictures can show it better than I can describe it:

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View looking up river from the top of  Granny`s Kitchen Falls. It only stays that mild for a short distance then becomes as gnarly as it gets.

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Looking down onto Granny`s Kitchen Falls from high above.

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Looking down onto Granny`s Kitchen Falls from the high rock above it

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After granny`s Kitchen it was relatively flat and smooth only, that would not last long until it got real again.

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Tyler playing around in a few potholes along the way

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Just around that bend the terms ‘flat and smooth’ will no longer apply.

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The gorge quickly narrowed and the rocks became huge.

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A picture says a thousand words. It also says several humongous rocks !

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With Tyler in the lead, you can tell by their body posturing how steep and rugged this place really is.

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Huge rocks of the Bonas Defeat Gorge

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Now around the bend we see the house sized rocks ahead !!

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The ultimate obstacle course. bring your spartans and crossfit people here. It`s a workout like they have never had !

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It`s much bigger than it appears in pictures as you can see here by the Badger and the Gnome adding some scale by their presence.

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Rocks are higher than tractor trailers

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John high above me on one of the many large rock formations we would encounter on this day

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Some rocks were too tall and vertical to climb so this small keyhole crack was the path or least resistance

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It was a tight squeeze for me but, as you can see the Gnome had no problems !

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Getting a glimpse of whats ahead

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Looking back at the ‘flat and smooth’ !!!

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My view of Badger, Tyler and Gnome as they survey the best route through the unbelievably large rocks

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A happy gnome poses atop one of the large rocks

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John living life on the edge

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From a high perch on one of the rocks, I spied a cave-like area with a crack that I thought I could use to get around some of these extremely large obstacles

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Looking back at the beginning of this new stretch of rock garden

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John climbing down from his previous rocky posing perch. You can see Tyler looking rather small in the distance as he makes his way towards a large rock that resembles a huge whale swimming down stream

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Tyler waiting on us slow pokes to catch up

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Tyler rests while waiting on us to catch up. This image shows a few of the large obstacles found within the gorge (Photo by one of the others)

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Exploring the scene

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Lots of small cave-like things to poke our noses in

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The rock formations here are amazing

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As I get closer to what looked like a large whale rock, it now starts to resemble more of a snapping turtle head.

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Tyler adds some proportion to the size of these rocks.

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View looking at the gorge ahead of us

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I had to take my pack off and push it through the crack ahead of me so I could fit.

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Me looking back down through the keyhole crack after successfully squeezing through it (Photo by Cathy Anderson)

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After crawling out of the crack, this was my first view and my route to proceed.

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Looking back I see Badger about to crawl through the crack

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And like a whack a Mole game, a badger pops up out of the earth !

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Tyler was first through the crack and waits patiently as he gets a kick out of watching the rest of us squeeze through the tight opening

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Gnomes have no problems getting through tight places although, no one could fit through this one without removing their pack.

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Now around the first of many huge rocks, i can get a side view of that turtle head looking rock on the other side of the gorge from me now.

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Looking up the gorge there is only more and more large rocks !

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Always looking back at the way we had just come

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After crawling over many more rocks the size of tractor trailers, I got this view of Tyler up ahead making his way around Granny`s Pantry Falls

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Another view of Tyler up ahead at Granny`s Pantry Falls

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You can also tell how late in the day it is getting and we are not even to the great Bonas Defeat Wall yet !!

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I follow the Badger and the Gnome as we go through one hole after another like moles !

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Going under some and over others we slowly make our way up the gorge

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Here the badger using a known technique to get down off one huge rock to get over to that dark hole / crack across from him in order to get around the deep pool of water at the base of Granny`s Pantry Falls

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Another look back and always wondering where the hell is Cathy ? She is behind us most of the time taking phenomenal pictures !

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Another perfect place for a Gnome pose !

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Granny`s Pantry Falls

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Following the Badger through the subterranean room between some enormous rocks

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Going through the room beneath the large rock formations

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Looking back you can see this is the largest crack so far as you could stand up anywhere in this one and fit numerous people and is the only way around the vertical sides of the deep pool below the falls (without getting wet)

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Emerging from the room under the rocks I always find myself facing more rocks !

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Lower part of Granny`s Pantry Falls

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Looking up the lower part of Granny`s Pantry Falls. You can see a tiny gnome high above me.

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John breaks out into a gnome pose at the top of Granny`s Pantry Falls

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Close up at Granny`s Pantry Falls

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Isolated section of Granny`s Pantry Falls

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Granny`s Pantry Falls

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Granny`s Pantry Falls (Photo by either Cathy Anderson of John Forbes, sorry I am not sure which)

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Looking back you can see how vertical the side of the falls are and how getting around pool and staying dry require going underground !

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Looking back down the river right side of the falls you can see the crack we had came through

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Me near the base of Granny`s Pantry Falls (Photo by ?? )

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Wider view looking back from near the top of the falls.

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There is a small cave like area under this spaceship looking rock with a waterfall in the back of it !!!

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My view looking up river from the top of the falls. This is a steep section of the gorge and I can only imagine what it would look like with a lot of water flowing through it although, you`d be dead !

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More potholes that you do not want to fall in esp if you are alone.

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Looking down into a pothole.

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A series of nice potholes on the river left side of the falls

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Once above the falls I get a small view over the rocks at the gorge ahead.

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Making my way along the vertical side of the gorge. You can see downed trees in here a lot. If water was to be released from the dam you can see how impossible it would be to climb out or harms way quick enough to avoid certain death.

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More rocks !

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Following Tyler through yet another crack to continue forward

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The setting sun has put a bit of pep in everyone`s step at this point

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It is slow going and I am sure Tyler is saying ‘ Hurry up ! It`ll be dark soon !! “

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The Badger skillfully sticks like glue as he negotiates a near vertical rock around an abysmal crack and large boulder. having done this run well over a half dozen times by now, he is considered an expert !

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It is in this moment that John is beginning his soon to be transformation from Dr Forbes to Mr Hyde. Notice he is preparing a set of ear buds which will stream ‘angry music’ into his ear canals to assist him with his changeover.

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Tyler attempts to make haste but, it is futile without leaving the rest of the group behind

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I continue to follow Tyler around the house size rocks as he usually always chooses good routes. You can see how small he looks in comparison to these rocks.

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Onward we go !

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There a e many routes one can take through this place. They can be chosen to fit most any skill set but, there are many that should not attempt it at all.

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Looking back I see Gnome and Badger close behind.

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Following Tyler under a huge overhanging rock cliff

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Tyler continuing to lead the way

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By having people in the images you can see how immense the Bonas Defeat gorge really is

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This is about as easy as it ever gets here

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With the badger on approach I got a reflection shot to show the beautiful Fall colors

It was at the great Bonas Defeat wall that the first of our troubles of the trip would occur. The first of which was that we were running out of daylight and it would soon be dark. The second of which was that we had lost track of our Badger. After getting the rest of the group together we figured out that he had one of those ‘good idea at the time’ moments thinking he could climb up to the base of the great wall and make up some time by short cutting along it to bypass the rough section just below the Fish Face Rock. He was doing well until the narrow ledge he was on abruptly ended causing a cliff out where it was impossible to go any farther yet, dangerous to go back the way he had come. My son Tyler sprang into action and like a mountain goat he climbed straight up through the wet rocks and thick briers to where the Badger was and they managed to find a route to get back down this slippery slope of death. By the time the group was all together again just beyond the humongous Fish Face Rock, We all watched the last trace of light fade to black as the thoughts of going another mile up the gorge in total darkness haunted our minds.

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More huge boulders to climb over and around. See that ridge coming in to the right ? That is where the Badger took his exit to go up to the base of the Great Bonas Defeat Wall that lies just around the next bend.

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Ahead is a very tight keyhole crack that lies beneath those two large rocks. i regretfully did not go down to it due to the time constraints placed by the impending darkness but, I am pretty sure John and Cathy did.

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Find Tyler. From where he is, he can see the Great Bonas Defeat Wall

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Looking back I am wondering where the others are. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Badger has taken his exit to my left in this pic,going up and beneath the rock ledge there in hoes of finding a shortcut along the base of the great wall to make up some much needed time to get between here and the mighty Fish Face Rock which had it worked would have eliminated many huge obstacles.

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My first view of the Bonas Defeat Wall. I think John is ahead cuing up some angry music for his ear buds !

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The Great Bonas Defeat Wall in quickly fading light

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The Great Bonas Defeat Wall. The Badger is somewhere up there near its base !

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This is the point along the base of the great Bonas Defeat Wall where the Badger`s ledge ran out (Photo by Thomas Mabry)

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Reflections of a gnome as he makes his way towards the mighty Fish Face Rock just out of sight on the left side of this image. This is the part of the gorge that lies beneath the Great Bonas Defeat Wall.

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Ascending up towards the Fish Face Rock area. Some of the largest formations in the gorge.

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Without a person in the scene, it is impossible to display just how large these rocks are.

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Looking up I see a glimpse of Tyler. He will be coming back to join me soon as he figures out the Badger might need some assistance.

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On approach to the Fish Face Rock area. These rock formations are 3 and 4 stories high.

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Looking over at the mighty Fish Face Rock I can see John looking very small below it !

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After Tyler and the Badger get back down from the Bonas Defeat wall, the Badger continues on unscathed, like nothing ever happened !

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John rubs the belly of the mighty Fish Face Rock putting it instantly to sleep.

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One of the falls at the Fish Face Rock. The other is deep inside the cave room below the Fish Face Rock

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Looking up at the Bonas Defeat Wall as it is getting dark

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The Great Bonas Defeat Wall

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More of the great Bonas Defeat wall

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Heading towards another one of the largest rock formations in the gorge

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No back on familiar ground

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Tyler stands atop Fish Face Rock

The first thought in that situation is to hurry up and get out however, that is not the safest method by any means although, the Gnome did take such a strategy only with his own unique twist. It seems that in order for him to dig deep and come up with a much needed boost of adrenaline fueled motivation, he somehow created in his mind a faux anger of sorts as he poked some ear buds in and cranked up some kind of heavy metal music, ignoring all of the rest of us, firing up his headlamp and charged upstream like a raging buffalo not to be seen close up again until we reached the vehicles ! It was surprising and a bit perplexing to the rest of us but, was very effective as he seemed to tap into an energy form like I had never witnessed before. The rest of us simply donned our headlamps and slowed down, taking our time so as not to fall and break our teeth off at the gums while we made our way up the gorge towards the dam.

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Tyler proceeds to continue the long trek out of the gorge from just above the Fish Face Rock and the Bonas Defeat Wall

john

Looking back I can see John playing on top of the huge rocks at Fish Face Rock at the base of the wall. Tyler and I are waiting on him, the Badger, and Cathy to catch up as it will be dark soon and we assumed we should all stay together.

moss

Spanish moss at the Bonas Defeat Wall

wall

I took pics of the wall while I waited on the others

badger

Finally the Badger catches up with his own reflection and pauses to document the great Bonas Defeat Wall before it becomes too dark to do so.

wall

I see Badger and Gnome but, still no sign of Cathy.

The gorge is much more forgiving from the Bonas Defeat Wall to the dam compared to what we had already came over but, adding in pitch darkness makes it equally if not more challenging. The group seemed to spread out as some traveled faster than others but, Tyler and I opted to hang back with the Badger. This turned out to be a good decision as about halfway to the dam the second tribulation of the trip occurred as the Badger somehow lost a contact lens making his vision become almost like that of a blind man. Between his displaced hip, hurting knees, and now almost blind, I was amazed and definitely inspired by the tenacity the Badger displayed on this night as we made our way over each new obstacle in the darkness using only our headlamps and our sense of touch to figure out the best routes to get us to the end. Somehow we managed to enjoy this newfound agony and actually had some fun along the way. It was slow going but, soon we looked up and saw the welcome sign at the opposite end of the gorge. One more turn and we would see the concrete of the dam glowing under a small, lone streetlight.

route

Looking up river

creek

beginning the last leg of this journey we head onward up the gorge. The first thing I recognized was Doe Branch coming in to our right. This was the climbers route down we had used on our last trip here.

view

Looking back for the others I took this pic of an old crooked tree with the wall in the background

creek

Not too far past Doe Branch is Slickens Branch doming in on the same side to our right as we proceed up river. Blurry because there is not enough light for picture taking by this time.

gorge

Tyler again takes the lead soon to be passed by John whom I would not see again until the car.

view

Looking back again at the wall, i can now see Cathy has joined the Badger there yet, they are not moving forward yet.

gorge

Looking forward I continue to make my way onward, up river knowing it is at least another mile just to reach the dam where another 2+ miles on gravel roads still remain.

wall

Another look back at the wall

wall

Continuing to look back I still see no sign of the others

rock

I call this the S.S. Minnow rock

wall

As the wall is disappearing behind me I still do not see any sign of Cathy or the Badger

pool

A small falls and beautiful pool

pool

More of this very large pool and a view looking up river. No sign of Tyler yet nor John.

tyler

It was in this stretch that I saw Tyler who was coming back to check on me

pool

Another pool which caught my eye as the current were swirling the pine needles and leaves around

falls

This was a very nice cascading type waterfall but, it was so dark I had to use a flash to even make it show up.

falls

Another really nice falls ahead. I had to adjust the light wide open to make this be seen. It was here that Cathy and the Badger caught up with me and the place where Badger would lose a contact lens.

view

This is a recreation of the Badger`s view after having lost one contact lens !

badger

The Badger contends with climbing the waterfall with limited vision. The rest have all gone ahead and we would not see or hear them again until the dam another 3.4 mile up river. From here on to the car it was just me and the Badger.

falls

I tried my best to get a focused shot of these falls but, there was just not enough light for it to be possible.

dam

After what seemed like a lifetime had passed, we finally saw the dam and the welcome signs at the upper end of the gorge in our headlamps. I had to use a flash and point my headlamp to get this picture.

sign

Using my headlamp and flash I took a pic of the welcome sign for the upper end of the gorge but, in our case it was a farewell sign saying, Goodbye Badger, we hope you enjoyed your day !

Once we reached the actual dam, there is still a steep climb up some terraced style rock formations that lead up to the woods where an access road comes in to the dam at. I must mention that you are not allowed to be on that road but, at this point it was our only way back to the vehicles. After the rough terrain of the gorge, especially the last mile we completed in the dark, it was definitely nice to be walking on a gravel road but, it was a LONG and grueling two + miles back to the other end where we still had to cross the river and climb back up the steep road to reach the vehicles where we had started. There is also a couple of intersections with other roads and gates and such that one must negotiate. A wrong turn would result in many more hours spent wandering around in the woods in the dark. Luckily the Badger kept us on track as we brought up the rear. After another hour or more, we could see headlamps way down in the valley and heard the voices of our compadres Tyler and Cathy as,  they seemed confused about which way to go. It was not long until Tyler and Cathy climbed up a really long and steep hill to join us only to find out they were going the right way all along !

signs

Signs at the gated gravel road.

pipeline

Part of the huge 2+ mile long pipeline that runs from the dam to the power station

It seemed like a lifetime but, only a couple hours later we all joined the Gnome at the cars where he had arrived way ahead of us, having already eaten some snacks and consumed an entire bottle of wine ! He was obviously feeling no pain and I envied him as it would have been nice to be in that state and be able to crawl into a tent and just go to sleep instead of the long drive home that awaited Tyler and I. Despite the few issues we had it still had been an incredible journey and I enjoyed it immensely. Having finally completed the entire length of the Bonas Defeat gorge with meticulous documentation, I was now filled with jubilance and elation. I was looking forward to the post hike grub out (although I can not even remember where we went or what we ate !) and was already thinking about future trips back to this unbelievable area. Until next time,,,,

To view the complete collection of photos from Bonas Defeat Gorge, please visit our photo gallery HERE.

Posted on 21 November '17 by , under RATtreks.

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