I Have A Dream ! ,,,,,,Flint Mtn. Cliffs – 1-20-2014

About thirty years ago when I first started hiking in the Rocky Fork area, I had a dream of standing on top of the lower and vertical part of the Flint Mountain cliffs. This dream finally came true on Martin Luther King Jr. day, Jan. 20, 2014. If you read my last blog you know that we did a recon of the proposed route earlier this month and did indeed find what I thought to be the easiest way to the cliff top and on this day we would find out if that was correct.  Starting around 10 am at the lower Rocky Fork trail head to get to what I call the ‘old high road’ that leads to the top of Flint Mountain, we decided that we would not bother with risking wet feet at the deep creek crossing there but, instead we would back the jeep across the creek and park beside the first blue gate ! From there we made our way downstream and behind the second blue gate to follow the old high road up past the old homestead area to get to the access point we had scouted on our last trip ten days ago.

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View of Whitehouse Mountain Cliffs from the top of Flint Mountain Cliffs

To my dismay there was still snow and ice and I was afraid that we may have to abort the mission once we reached the cliffs due to the possibility of it being too dangerous. I expected these cliffs to be extremely steep with no level ground or solid footing so adding ice and snow to that would be too risky. We continued uphill on the old road climbing higher on the butt end of Flint Mountain.

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RAT and Sam climbing up the first part of the old high road that leads up on to Flint Mountain (Photo by Bol’Dar)

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Sam and Bol’Dar ahead of me on the old road that leads up Flint Mountain

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RAT on the old road up Flint Mtn. You can start to see the top of Whitehouse Mountain sticking up on the right. (Photo by Bol’Dar)

Bol’Dar who was unable to go with us on the previous trip here, was with us today and was excited to be going up this old trail since like us, he had not been on this part of the mountain in many years and the thoughts of actually making it to the cliffs had all our adrenaline pumping. It did not take long to reach the magic spot where I would I would lead us off the road into the woods on a primitive ninja trail that somehow only we could see. The snow made it a little slick but so far it was not interfering with our ability to make our way safely towards the ridge. Soon enough we reached the point where we had to turn around on our last recon mission here as we did not have any tools on that trip and there is a river of laurels that runs on the left side of the cliffs that spans from Rocky Fork Creek all the way to the top of Flint Mountain.

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Making our way down my secret ninja trail (Photo by Bol’Dar)

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Part of the river of laurels

Luckily it is not too far across the laurel hell and we were prepared this time with saws and loppers to make a trail through them. We made only a primitive path on our way in as we were anxious to get to the cliffs and also because we needed to make sure that this was going to be the best route to get there. If it was to be the route, we would do more work clearing it on our way out. Once we made our way past the laurels it did become steeper but also opened up significantly. As soon as we rounded the corner we could see the spine of the main ridge and yes, it was looking cliff-like ! We could see what I recognized was the rocky stair-stepped cliffs that line the main ridge of Flint Mountain and we traversed over and up to what we found was a nice sized level area. As soon as we stood there we knew exactly where we were. We had found the right place and were above the top of the cliff that we wanted to be on. As I looked to my right I could see Whitehouse Mountain towering above us.

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Looking back across the laurel hell we had just crossed

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Bol’Dar looking towards Whitehouse Mtn from the main ridge of Flint Mtn

We took a short break on the level spot to take a GPS reading and assess the area while eating a snack and drinking some water. Looking to the left, up the ridge we could see that it was steep and had rocky outcrops much like we had seen at the top of Flint Mountain on our last trip. I knew we were just down the ridge a ways below that and it was soon apparent from looking straight ahead that we were standing near the top of the place on the ridge where it makes an upside down V whereas each leg of the V leads very steeply down to the creek and main road of Rocky Fork. Looking to the right, down the ridge, we could see that it would not be too far down to reach the cliff top I had dreamed so long of standing on. The best part was there was not too much snow to impede our journey and to my amazement it was actually fairly easy to make our way down and around the rocks of the main ridge line.

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Beginning the steep descent of the ridge to hopefully reach the cliff tops

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Cool looking rock and trees growing out of it on the steep ridge

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Normally the camera can not display just how steep something is but in this case, it did. The cool part is the awesome ferns that grow all over the first section we descended, second thing is that there is actually a way down this incredibly steep knifes edge.

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You can see some of how steep it is but also how you can manage to go down it. Starting to see some of the cliffs now. (Find Bol’Dar)

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Sam and Bol’Dar checking out the first spot where one could look off the cliff and get some visuals. Whitehouse Cliffs starting to show more and more as we proceed downward to the cliff tops on Flint Mtn.

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Trying to get a view of the road that leads into Rocky Fork below the cliffs. It`s a long way down there !

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The first open spot where we got some of our first visuals on the way down

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I could not resist checking out the Whitehouse Mtn Cliffs although I knew I would be getting a MUCH better view in just a few minutes !

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Couldn`t resist at least one zoom,,

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Looking down the steep ridge where we had to go,,,, the ferns and sphagnum moss was disappearing into some gnarly growth

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Bo;’Dar leading the way through the scrub growth on the spine of the cliff ridge. I am just happy that there is enough level ground to stand on !

I was blown away by this because from looking over and down at this ridge plus taking many zoomed pictures from the top of Whitehouse Cliffs over the last 2 years or so, I found it hard to believe that anyone could stand here without holding on to something to keep from sliding down to our deaths but, this was not the case. To my astonishment the ridge was not as much of a knife`s edge as I expected but, instead did have just enough level ground between the rocks to stand on comfortably although it was obvious that no one has been here at least not in a long time. The growth was not too bad either and as a matter of fact the first part of the rocks were completely covered in ferns like I had not seen before and the ones below those were covered in a beautiful sphagnum moss. There were some briars and gnarly stuff right at the cliff top that was our destination but, nothing bad at all and after a few drop offs we found ourselves standing right on top of the cliffs. My dream had just come true! I realized this as I carefully poked my head over the snow covered triangular rock at the top as I looked down on the main road that leads into the Rocky Fork Valley. The only thing that would have made it any better would have been someone walking up the road below !

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When I finally reached this rock, I knew exactly which one it was and I was ecstatic ! I had finally reached the tip top of the Flint Mtn. Cliffs !!

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Of course it would not be complete until I carefully peered over the edge where I could look down on the Rocky Fork road at the place I had stood and took pics looking up at this rock for the past 30 years ! Finally, I had actually lived the dream ! It is true, we shall overcome !

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Looking out over the Rocky Fork Valley – this is looking directly into where the original ‘high road’ that leads to Frozen Knob starts at, that is basically the Long Branch Valley there.

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Panning further right now seeing Frozen Knob with the Long Branch Valley on left and the beginning of Whitehouse Mountain on the right

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Frozen Knob and a small slice of the steep Whitehouse Mountain ridge

Once my heart rate slowed down from this satisfying accomplishment I turned my thoughts and my head towards the secondary reason for being in this particular spot which was to get an up close and personal front row seat view of the Whitehouse Mountain and Cliffs. I was instantly mystified as I gazed up at these unbelievable castles of rock that loomed above us. I was awestruck with their magnitude and beauty and I had to sit down to catch my breath and take it all in before even bothering to get out my tripod to begin taking pics. I was completely taken aback by finally being here. It was way better than I had ever expected it to be. I took several photos with my pocket cam before thinking to get out my larger cam.

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Sam on the cliff tops with Whitehouse Mountain and Cliffs in background (Photo by Bol’Dar)

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RAT and Whitehouse Mtn and Cliffs as seen through Bol’Dar’s porthole. (Photo by Bol’Dar)

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Part of Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs and what I have referred to as Frozen Knob in the other pics however, technically that is just part of the ridge that leads to frozen knob as it blocks the view of the actual knob which is in reality higher than that one.

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Jet flying over Whitehouse Mtn.

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What amazement looks like

Now let the zoom and my obsession with the ‘rock on the ledge’ begin ! :

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Zoomed shot

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Zooming closer,,,

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Zoomed shot of the rock on the ledge. Starting to see the pink veins of rock below it now

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Zoom of the rock on the ledge with the pink rock veins . To my knowledge this is the only place anywhere on the cliffs that has these.

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About as much as my pocket cam would zoom without pixelating

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If you read the blog of our last trip down the cliffs and our visit to ‘the crack‘ you might remember the burned tree that stands in front of it. Of course I had to zoom that !

It was at that time that I realized that I needed to get my larger camera (NOT a DSLR) out of my pack and set up my tripod to see if it would take some better pics:

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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This zoomed shot of the bottom of the cliffs shows that despite the illusion as seen from the top of the cliffs, it is NOT level anywhere at the bottom ! Look close and you can see the burnt tree at the crack and the drop off just beyond it that prevented us from getting to the far left edge of the base of the cliffs on our previous trip there

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zoomed closer on the cliffs

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zoomed view of the top of the cliffs. We learned that I was mistaken about the ‘overhanging rock’ as that is NOT the one I was sitting on, which was quite a relief actually ! You can see the correct rock in a labeled pic HERE.

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top of cliffs

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zoomed of left side of cliff tops where the ‘shrine rock‘ aka ‘dragon`s tooth rock’ is

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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The base of Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs. This shot shows just how steep it is from the base. It is like this all the way to the road and if you choose the wrong spot to come out at, you will find yourself on more cliffs and unable to get down to the road. (without ropes)

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One last shot of my obsession, the rock on the ledge

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Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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Summit of Whitehouse Mtn.

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Bol’Dar taking pics of the Whitehouse Mtn. Cliffs

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One last shot of the Whitehouse Mountain and Cliffs before we had to leave

After taking too many pics and eating our lunch we finally had to make ourselves leave. This is always hard to do when you are at such an awesome location but, it seemed even more difficult to leave this surreal place. We spent some time cutting out a nice trail back up the cliffs and up to the level spot and then Bol’Dar scouted out a bit higher up the ridge to see if there was any better way back around the laurels however, just as my research had shown, there was not, as river of laurels continues all the way to the top. We went back the way we had come, taking our time to cut out a decent trail back to near the old high road.

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One more look off the high point of the Flint Mtn. Cliffs looking down at the road that leads through the Rocky Fork Valley below

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Bol’Dar on the top of the Flint Mtn. Cliffs. You can see the top of the upside down V behind and to the right the other ridge that leads steeply down to the Rocky Fork Creek below.

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Looking across the upside down V at the steep ridge on the other side. That is the Rocky Fork Valley below and part of Snakeden Ridge and Coldspring Mtn in the far distance.

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Looking the opposite way off the top of the Flint Mtn. Cliffs like looking out of Rocky Fork you can see the next ridge finger over as well as I-26 in the far distance.

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Looking over the sharp sine of the cliff ridge – Frozen Knob being the prominent mountain seen

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The cliff ridge after we cut a nice trail out across it

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We did a lot of clearing along the spine of the cliff ridge

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Beautiful Sphagnum moss that grows along parts of the cliff ridge

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Cutting a path higher up the main cliff ridge (Find Sam)

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A very scenic path up the spine of the main cliff ridge through the ferns

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Closer shot of the ferns

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Bol’Dar was the first to make it back to the wide level spot at the top of the upside down U where we first started on the main ridge

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Cutting a trail through the river of laurels

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Trail cut through the laurel hell

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Coming out of the woods on the secret ninja trail after cutting a trail from the cliffs. Notice the happy look on my face !! (Photo by Bol’Dar)

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Twisted grapevines

From there I decided to take a few minutes to go a tad further up the road to an old abandoned log road I had found before that leads up a steep hill and over near the main ridge on a slightly higher level than we had been on to see if there might be any better way to get there. This road did go up to a pretty cool place where it split off into two roads. One that continued in the direction of the main road only higher above it and another that went back towards the main ridge where we had just been only higher however, it dead ended on a steep spot looking down on the route we had taken earlier.

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Taking a few minutes to go further up the old high road to check out an old side road

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Exploring an old trail

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A zoomed pic of the million dollar home on I-26 that we could see from the high point of the old trail we were exploring

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After exploring the dead end side trails we headed back down the old high road to reach the vehicle before dark

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Naturally occurring snowballs that roll down the steep banks of the old high road

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Making our way down the old high road. We did see some fresh bear tracks that had came a long way down the road since we had came in earlier that morning. (Photo by Bol’Dar)

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Continuing down the last hill of the old high road (Photo by Bol’Dar)

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Almost down to the bottom of the old high road (Photo by Bol’Dar)

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Passing back by the old homestead remains

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Finally back down to the end of the old high road

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Back to the vehicle and ready to cross the creek in style (Photo by Bol’Dar)

We made our way back down to the road and were soon back at the vehicle still hiking on cloud nine from our achievement.  I was thinking how nice it was that we would not have to cross the creek this time ! I can not wait to come back to the cliffs again and get some better pictures of the Whitehouse Mountain Cliffs. To see more pics of the Flint Mountain and Whitehouse Mountain Cliffs, please visit our Photo Gallery here.

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Posted on 13 February '14 by , under RATtreks.

One Comment to “I Have A Dream ! ,,,,,,Flint Mtn. Cliffs – 1-20-2014”

#1 Posted by RATtreks » Hidden Lake on Frozen Knob – 2-1-2014 (17.02.14 at 03:22 )

[…] Walking under the Flint Mountain Cliffs. Hard to believe I stood on top of that on our last trip. […]

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