Higgins Creek, Devil Fork Creek, and Rocky Fork Creek – 10-2-2014

To start off the month of October, I went on a hike with my new friends John Forbes and Ken Woody to see a few waterfalls in the Unicoi County area which is basically my backyard. Of course it was a bright, sunny day and despite low water levels we were determined to have a grand time and that we did. Our first stop was at Lower Higgins Creek. With very little water there we only went to the Lower Falls which are the largest but, I took us in the secret ninja trail that leads to the base of the Hidden Falls I found there some years back. It was not as impressive as my last trip there when there was a lot more water and the light was so intensely bright that there was no way to get any good pics of them or the Lower Higgins Falls above them but, we had a good time anyway. It did however, allow us to get into the heart of the falls and stand right in the guts of her which would not be possible during higher water flow.

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Hidden Falls on Higgins Creek

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Small splash pool just below the hidden falls

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Hidden Falls on Higgins Creek

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John about to get intimate with the hidden falls

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Standing in the gut of the hidden falls. You can see John doing his thing there as well

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Standing inside the hidden falls

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Standing in the guts of the hidden falls

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RAT inside the hidden falls (Photo by Ken or John)

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RAT deep within the hidden falls (Photo by John Forbes)

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RAT straddling the falls on some VERY slick footing (Photo by John Forbes)

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John and Ken. John was most likely telling Ken the story of his first trip here when he fell off the cliff into the creek where he is pointing at !

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Ken Woody taking a rest at the base of the Hidden Falls while John and I explore the guts of the falls. This nice swimming hole was used by the locals who lived at the end of the road on Higgins Creek back when the old log road ended right at it. I learned of these falls by the man who grew up and lived in the house that used to be at the end of the road.

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Looking down on the Hidden Falls as I climb up and around them to get to the Lower Higgins Creek Falls farther upstream. Here is what it looked like on one of my earlier trips.

The lower Higgins Falls were so dry that John was able to climb right up them while Ken and I made our way up to the old road and across the tip top of the falls to explore an old logging road I found there a long time ago that I wanted to see how far it went and what shape it was in. It should lead up beside Chestnut Knob and eventually to the two large ponds located there but, it is just a matter of how grown up it may be. There is still a passable road there that leads up beside a rather large rock cliff and did continue going on and on. I plan an expedition to the ponds soon and perhaps I can return back this way IF the water is still low as the top of the falls should not be crossed otherwise.

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Looking upstream at Ken and John already at the lower Higgins Creek Falls

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Ken getting some shots of the lower Higgins Creek Falls. As you can tell from the piles of debris, you would not be able to stand where I am during high water times.

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Lower Higgins Creek Falls – low flow and bright sun !

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Lower Higgins Creek Falls – do not be fooled by these shots from the base, these falls are four times this tall, there is much more you can not see from the bottom,,,

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Lower Higgins Creek Falls (trying my best with the bright sun and my NON-SLR camera !)

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Lower Higgins Creek Falls

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John Forbes documenting the moment at the Lower Higgins Creek Falls

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John Forbes decides to climb the falls ! Ooo Rah !

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John climbing the Lower Higgins Creek Falls as we ascend up to the old road. I still can not get over how low the water is compared to how it normally is.

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Looking down on the lower part of the falls from the side trail (find John Forbes)

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Ken and John standing at the tip top of the falls where the old road is on the other side. This would not be possible during higher water flow

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John standing at the highest point of the falls taking a picture of Ken who is standing atop the highest part of the vertical drop of the falls

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Looking down at Ken from the top of the falls. Trying to imagine doing this during regular water flow !

There are several other very nice waterfalls and cascades on Lower Higgins Creek further upstream but,  due to the low water levels it really was not worth the effort. From there we went back to the trail head and I suggested we drive just up the road a ways to the Devil Fork Falls that not many know about on Devil Fork Creek. The access here is tricky to say the least as you must descend down an incredibly steep bank on the side of the paved road behind a guardrail to reach the creek and falls below. You must be careful here as it is very loose rock and is littered with broken glass and metal that is thrown from vehicles. The main falls are visible from the road so you will know where you are going. I was surprised how much water was flowing in this creek compared to how dry the others are in the same area.

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John and Ken having made the tedious climb down to the creek from the road above

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Devil Fork Falls

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Devil Fork Falls

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Devil Fork Falls

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Devil Fork Falls

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Devil Fork Falls

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John and Ken already above the first falls on Devil Fork Creek and looking at the next falls

It was still dreadfully bright but, we got what pics we could there before moving up this well hidden and basically unknown gorge to reach several other falls that I had discovered here a few years ago. I also noticed that there had been a lot of storm damage since my last visit here as there were many blow downs and debris that made it much harder to negotiate going upstream. It was worth the extra effort though as there are at least three more really nice falls to be found there along with some equally nice cascades.

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John checking out the next set of falls on the Devil Fork Creek. Huge downed tree there now, these were clean as a pin on my last trip here !

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The next set of falls upstream from Devil Fork Falls. These were awesome until that large tree fell on them.

Making our way over all the storm damage continuing upstream to the next set of falls, we came upon some really fresh bear tracks. Looked like a mama and her cub. These were at the base of the next set of falls.

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Fresh bear tracks

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John and Ken going over and under all the downed trees to get to the next set of falls on Devil Fork Creek. These are all fairly close together but the going is slower now that there has been a lot of storm damage.

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The next set of falls,,,, John and Ken , like kids in a candy store !

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Another shot of these falls,,

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The old ‘under the tree’ shot !

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Same falls shot from on top of the tree I was just under !

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Same falls, but in real time. Here is a pic from my last trip here.

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This is one of my favorite falls on this creek

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I think this was the best shot I got on this creek during this trip !

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one last shot,,,,

At the head of this small but rugged gorge, there is what I call the ‘twin falls‘ where the water splits as it comes down beside a huge dinosaur skull looking rock. I may need to rename them however, as the water now favors the right side or maybe it`s just due to less water?  Actually, they look very different than my last visit to see them as it seems the creek has diverted itself differently most likely due to recent storms.  You can see how it used to be much different and can barely see the left eye of the skull rock in this older picture. After getting some pics of these we climbed above them to take a shorter and easier way back up to the road above to complete the loop back to the vehicle.

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Last falls on Devil Fork Creek

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Twin Falls,,, Skull Rock falls ?

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John Forbes checking out a new falls he had never see before !

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John getting to know the skull rock at the twin falls

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Uppermost falls on Devil Fork Creek. Does anyone else see the Tyranasaurus Rex skull there ??

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Uppermost falls on Devil Fork Creek. It is obvious after studying older pics that the water flow has changed drastically since my last visit here as the left side flow is completely gone and the creek has eroded the right side tremendously which has exposed this skull rock

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Ken at the uppermost falls on Devil Fork Creek. Eyeballing the skull rock

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John at the uppermost falls on Devil Fork Creek

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Uppermost falls on Devil Fork Creek complete with a small reflection shot !

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Upper falls on Devil Fork Creek

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Uppermost falls on Devil Fork Creek

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Uppermost falls on Devil Fork Creek

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Are you lookin` at my bum ? You cheeky monkey you !

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Ken and John admiring the uppermost falls, now called Dinosaur Skull Falls on Devil Fork Creek

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Dinosaur Skull Falls (uppermost falls on Devil Fork Creek

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John and Ken making the climb to get out of the Devil Fork Creek gorge to get back to the road above.

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John Forbes and RAT taking pics of the Dinosaur Skull Falls on Devil Fork Creek (Photo by Ken Woody)

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RAT gettin` a shot at the last falls on upper Devil Fork Creek (Photo by John or Ken)

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Black bear carved out of log at driveway we turned around at on the road above Devil Fork Creek

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Black bear carved from log on the road to Devil Fork (there is an old hippie face on its rear but I did not get a pic of it)

Since we did not have time to drive much farther to another destination before dark, we decided to go to the nearby Rocky Fork area and get some pics of the roadside falls there which are always nice. The upper falls are the ones listed on most maps and the TN Landforms site but, just below them are larger falls which I think are better but, the uppers do have the killer swimming hole. There are many other falls downstream from here all the way to the end of the road and I highly suggest taking a day to spend here to enjoy them all.

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Rocky Fork Falls

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John and Ken , photo anglers, reeling in the shots of Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Small falls beside Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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John Forbes standing beside the falls that are just below the ones named Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

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Rocky Fork Falls

After visiting both of those falls it was becoming evening but, I suggested we go a short ways up Rocky Fork road to then go behind the gate as John and Ken had not seen the Triple Falls there. These falls are some of the most photogenic I have ever seen and on this trip we would do what I have seldom done which is climb down to the creek and get up close and personal with them to get what pics we could. The light was fading so somewhat better pics could be obtained.

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Old road leading into Rocky Fork

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Triple falls along upper Rocky Fork Creek

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Triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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John and Ken getting up close to the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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John and Ken on the triple falls of Rocky Fork Creek. (John is the blue and yellow blur as he was being ‘Flash Gordon’ across that log ! )

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John and Ken adding a new falls to their list !

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Triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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John Forbes doing whatever it takes to get a shot of the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Close up of the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Close up of the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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I could not decide which pics to use so I used them all !

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Triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Part of the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Triple Falls on Rocky Fork Creek

Here are some action pics I took with my little pocket camera:

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John on his way down tot he triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Ken and John having an Ooo Rah moment at the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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John Forbes at the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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The Gnome of the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek ! “Stop and smell the roses ! “

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Triple Falls on the Rocky Fork Creek

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Triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Part of the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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RAT taking pics of the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek (Photo by John or Ken)

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RAT setting up for the shot ! (Photo by Ken or John)

From there we did go a little farther up the road to another small cascading falls and I also wanted to show them the Flint Mountain Cliffs (you can actually see these small falls in this pic if you look closely). I can`t wait to take them to the top of those but, first to the top of Whitehouse Cliffs. Soon I hope,,,,,,,

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Small falls farther up Rocky Fork Creek

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Rocky Fork Creek

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Rocky Fork Creek

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Rocky Fork Creek

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Rocky Fork Creek (perhaps the best shot I got all day ?)

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Small falls farther upstream from the triple falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Small falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Small falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Small falls along Rocky Fork Creek

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Falls on Rocky Fork Creek

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Reflections on Rocky Fork Creek

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Small falls on Rocky Fork creek

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Rat and Ken checking out a tree growing out of a rock cliff on Rocky Form Creek (Photo by John Forbes)

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High point of Flint Mtn Cliffs

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Zoomed shot of top of Flint Mtn. Cliffs

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‘Great Lobelia’  (Lobelia Siphilitica) found along Rocky Fork road

It was a great day spent with my hiker trash friends and my mistress, Mother Nature. Here are some pics of various fungi I was able to find during this epic trek through the woods,,,,

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Cluster of white shrooms

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White shroomage

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Fungus

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Fungus

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Fungus

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Fungus

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Fungus

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Group of cool looking mushrooms

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Mushrooms

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titty shrooms

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Hot air balloon mushroom

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Moss covered stump

It was a fun hike with many waterfalls and sights to see. We stopped in Erwin to get some of the areas best smoked meats at the Hillbilly Butts food trailer. Lewis Carsten is really nice and has the best beef brisket I have ever put into my mouth. His pork is phenomenal and the home made recipes from his mother that he uses for the beans and potato salad are scrumptious. Unfortunately I will not get to try his ribs out as the town of Erwin has decided to run him out of town as they say they have an ordinance banning food vendors there.  I think it is a shame that a hard working Christian man who has such an excellent product that obviously there is a huge demand for there, has to pack up and leave after investing so much into that location because they did not bother to advise him of this so called law beforehand. I for one will hate to see this guy go and I hope he does not go too far away but I could not blame him if he did.  Check your local news for more details on this story. John and I pigged out, pun intended ! I got both beef and pork !

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John waiting on the post hike grub to be prepared.

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My post hike supper. Pulled pork and beef brisket, beans and tater salad. This man knows what he is doing, and that means a lot coming from me !!

To see more pics of all these waterfalls and much more, please visit my Photo Gallery.

Posted on 3 November '14 by , under RATtreks.

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