RAT-cation September 2018

Whenever it is possible, I try to take a few days off every year during my birth month to get away from the weekly struggles of work and life, and go on an adventure. This year I was able to make it happen so my son Tyler and I packed up the car and headed North for a much needed and well deserved vacation. Our first destination would require a two and a half hour drive as we planned to visit our good friend John ‘The Gnome’ Forbes aka Dr. Forbes who was working as a guide at the Breaks Interstate Park which is on the Virginia / Kentucky border. I had been there before yet, like most people, was unaware of all the amazing things the park has to offer. John had been working there long enough to intimately know every square inch of the park and then some so, he could show us most of the major highlights during our 3 day visit. We arrived early in afternoon and found him in his ‘gnomular home’ jamming out to some very loud music ! The first order of business would be to order up some food as Tyler and I had not eaten due to the lack of commercial establishments available in this extremely backwoods part of the country ! The Breaks resort restaurant serves up some very good vittles so as soon as we consumed them our adventure would begin.

Heading North through Virginia
Resident deer grazing outside the Gnome Home

We only had about four hours before dark but, the amount and type of terrain that John took us on during that time, would feel like any full day of hard hiking I had ever done before ! Within a few hundred yards of his dwelling we dropped off the pavement and was instantly transported into another world. It was like being teleported via a portal into another dimension. A huge crack (gnomes love cracks) would lead us down into a rocky heaven where huge cliffs towered hundreds of feet above and below us, each containing a vast assortment of crags and precipices of every sort to climb around on. There were actual ‘routes’ that John led us up and around and down and over from one section to another that seemed to go on forever. Although this is a hidden gem that not many know about, I did notice several climbing routes on some of the cliffs complete with anchors which reinforces what I already knew which is that climbers know how to keep a secret ! (unlike most hikers). Traversing along these ledges beneath the mammoth cliffs left us in awe the entire time.

First cliff within feet of the road !
John Forbes
We would be passing through the opening beneath this crack !
Looking up at the upper part of this tall crack you can see some large rocks that are precariously hanging on !
coming out the other side of the long crack
Once through the crack we entered into another world.
Looking back at the crack
John points out one of the resident Raven`s nests high above us
(zoomed) Pretty nice nook for a Raven to live ! Note: this is much larger than it appears !
The area beneath the cliff system is large and in charge !
John climbs high above us for a view we must join him to see before passing through the large keyhole opening below it
Tyler gets a pic of John as I use both them to add some scale to this scene
Once up there I could see why John wanted us to climb it.
Me coming down from the previous perch (photo by John Forbes)
After going back down and through the keyhole, we entered into yet another dimension of this new world where even larger cliffs existed
This would be the largest of many rock shelter type overhangs we would see during our visit here
The sheer size of this place is hard to capture in a single image since it wont fit in one picture it is so high !
Looking up you can not really see the top due to the overhanging rock. The coloring is amazing.
High above us is the other resident Raven nest.
Tyler standing beneath the Raven nest as you can see the large amount of sticks that were discarded while making adjustments to the nest over time
Looking back
Following John along the base of this massive cliff system. Keeping in mind we are still very high above the river we can still hear roaring in the valley below. There are more cliff system below this one between us and it not to mention a lot more of this one you can not see above us.
There are countless unique rock formations to see here
Deep inside the large rock shelter there are some very unique rock formations. The one in the center of this image is actually hollow all the way through.
Since it was dark we shone lights to try and display this hollow tube of rock. The colors were amazing.
Close up of the hollow square rock ! it always fascinates me to think of how were these formed ?
Do you see the perfect ‘eye’ that Nature has painted for us ?
Colorful markings on the rocks
Inside the huge rock shelter (photo by Tyler Tarpley)
More unusual rock art. You have to wonder how these circles were made.
More unusual markings. These almost look man made.
John and I hanging out in a very cool place ! (Photo by Tyler Tarpley)
Around the corner we found the Gnome Patio to which we were welcomed with open arms !
When it comes to gnome patio`s, it is all about location! location! location !
The view from the gnome patio overlooking the gorge. Could not see the river due to the tree lined ledge below us.
Tyler hangin` with us on the gnome patio
Once back up top, we were treated to the tourist view of the Stateline Overlook. That would be the scar of the Coalfields expressway off in the distance there I believe.
Part of the view from the tourist overlook
River view from the overlook
Looking farther left over the gorge from the overlook

Working our way across the steep mountainside high above the Russell Fork river (which we could hear roaring way down below us), John guided us to another section of these seemingly never ending escarpments where we would have to climb up a near vertical crack leading us to a cave-like room. Following John up this vertical chasm, I quickly gained elevation making Tyler look like a small ant below us. He soon joined us in the dark room. From there was what John called ‘The Squeeze’. This was a gnome sized, tapered, horizontal crack with a starting ledge that was almost higher than I could reach ! Just looking at it I knew there was no way a fat RAT was ever going to pass through it ! Watching John and Tyler struggle through it only enforced that belief. Not to be outdone or left behind, using my fingertips I pulled my heavy self up and got my head and arms through the hole, positioning my body horizontally into the widest part I could find of this extremely constricted opening, I was able to somehow pull myself up and through to join the others on the beginning of the ‘Ledge of Death’ which was the reason for going through this crack to begin with. Of course it was completely worth it as the ‘Ledge of Death’ is a huge adrenaline rush to say the least.

After leaving the overlook, John led us down into another route where we found ourselves deep within another very large crack
As usual, the crack would lead to another incredible cliff system. This time going to the right towards these monolithic sized cliff towers !
The size of the rock cliffs here is unbelievable. What is harder to believe is the amount of people that visit the park that never know they are even here.
Looking up at one of the m any rock towers. Little did I know when I tool this pic that I would soon be standing on top of this one !!
John looks up as he adds scale to the base of this large cliff system. Of course he already knows we will soon be up there !
This is definitely the crack capital of the world.
John begins the technical climb up this nearly vertical cliff
John climbing higher and higher up the crack in the cliff.
John is now high enough to enter into the cave-room that lies just inside the crack you see over his head
After putting his pack inside the cave-room John re-emerges to get pics of us climbing up the crack !
Tyler begins his ascent as I take his picture over John`s shoulder
Tyler below me as he enters into the dark cave-room
I had to use a flash to light up the cave-room as it is way too dark without it
John leads the way up and through the insanely tight crack at the back of the cave room
As you can see here, the crack is very tight even by Gnome standards !
As John squeezes through the tight opening, I am wondering how I am ever going to get through it. It seemed inimitable to me.
Me emerging from the squeeze crack to get my first view of Tyler on the Ledge of Death ! (photo by John Forbes)
My first view of The Ledge of Death !
My favorite pic is coming out onto the ‘ledge of death’ and looking down at the entrance to the cave-room just below and the near vertical climb shows well. Note our packs at the base of the cliff beside the trees !
As I begin my crossing of the Ledge of Death you can see just how narrow and sheer it is !

After crossing over the ‘Ledge of Death’ to the other side there is a small puckering perch on the point of the cliff where amazing views could be had. Looking up the point of this immaculate rock formation I could tell this was climbable but, I would not attempt it without a rope. We hung out there for awhile taking it all in before going back across the ‘Ledge of Death’ where John would lead us through yet another massive crack to a different part of this ‘upper realm’. There we had to scale a ledge that was so narrow you could only get your toes on it. Using the rock face across from it for balance made it possible then, there was a belly crawl around a sharp corner and out to another larger ledge where one could sit and look down at the vertical drop of over 100 feet to the ground below. We hung out here for awhile because it was just majorly awesome !

This is part of what greets you on the other side of the ledge of death
Hanging out just beyond the Ledge of Death ! I think John is praying to the Cliff Gods !
Looking back across the ledge of death you can see a better view of the cave room entrance below it where those trees are. Again it displays how vertical the climb is to get up to it.
Views from the puckering perch just beyond the Ledge of Death
Here you can see just how narrow the puckering perch is. It is also much farther down if you were to fall from here compared to the ledge of death either of which you would not survive.
Looking up from the puckering perch . Very climbable but, safer with a rope !
Once back across the ledge of death we enter into yet another huge crack that leads past this Eastern Phoebe nest to a puckering perch on the opposite side of this cliff system.
John demonstrates how to follow the ‘toe crack’ to reach the outer ledge. Falling down into this crack is NOT an option !
John near the end of the crack where it gets serious ! Going around the corner and onto the next narrow ledge found there requires a belly crawl.
Without the adjacent the rock wall for support, getting out to our destination would be much harder.
Looking back at Tyler as he follows me across the toe crack
John looks down at the 100+ feet vertical drop at the end of the toe crack before transitioning into the belly crawl crack
John Forbes doing the belly crawl to reach the next puckering perch
A quick look down at the end of the toe crack before doing my own belly crawl over to join John at the next puckering perch !
trying to show how tall this cliff is. It will not all fit in one frame.
It goes farther above us than can even be seen from this angle !
Looking back at Tyler before he starts his belly crawl !
Tyler just after transitioning from the toe crack to the belly crawl (photo by John Forbes)
Me doing the belly crawl to get to the next puckering perch ! (Photo by Tyler Tarpley)
And this is the puckering perch we belly crawled to get to ! (photo by John Forbes)

From there John led us back across the belly crawl and toe crack to another climb to reach an even higher point on this limitless cliff system. This would require crossing yet another crawl and then another narrow ledge crossing to reach another point of visual stimulation. I was all for it as it would put off the return trip through the dreaded tight, squeeze crack for that much longer !

After returning from the belly crawl and toe crack I look up and John was already high above us heading to the next part of this astounding journey.
Our guide as he waits for us to join him !
Looking down as I crawl across yet another high ledge. Thinking it doesn`t get any better than this,, well actually, it does !
Following my son Tyler across another narrow ledge of death !
At the end of this ledge would require a crawl on all fours to reach the next destination.
Tyler crawling under the overhanging ledge all while being on the edge of oblivion !
Crawling around that corner I joined John and Tyler in another dark cave type room. I could not help feeling like there was some other presence there but, it wasn`t until I seen this picture that I realized that there was !!
This would lead us to be above the original Ledge of Death ! I was happy that our backpacks were still at the bottom awaiting our return !

Going back the way we had come was the only return route without having a rope. Of course I was then wishing we had not left our climbing rope and gear in the car knowing I had to go back down through ‘The Squeeze’ crack. This proved to be much more difficult for me than it was coming up it as I was unable to get my fat body in the best position to find the widest part of the crack. I ended up getting a bit stuck and my weight pulling me down made it that much worse. I finally had to lose some skin off my back to get through it ! From there it was back through the dark cave room and back down the crack to where we had started this part of the adventure.

Back into the cave-room where I would have to figure out how to get back down through the tight squeeze crack as John looks on.
John captured me being temporarily stuck in the squeeze crack ! You can see just how tight this space is for a fat RAT ! (photo by John Forbes)
Coming out of the cave room into the crack to begin the vertical climb back down to where we left our packs at the start of this section.
Tyler coming back down the steep climb
Looking back at the way we had came earlier. I was happy to be back with my pack as it had been awhile since I had water !
We would be continuing in that direction to reach the sunset spot although we were missing it already !

Since we spent so much time on this section, the sun was already setting and we knew we were missing it. John hurriedly led us to the sunset viewing point for this day but, alas we only caught the tail end of it. Of course even bad ones are beautiful so we enjoyed it anyway. From there we hiked back to the car in the dark to cook up some grub at the Gnome home since it was late and there are not many eating establishments anywhere close to the park. After our bellies were full it was time to bed down on John`s floor and get some sleep and look forward to the next day.

We could see we were missing the sunset as we made our way towards the viewing location.
Catching the tail end of the sunset event I was not successful in getting any good images.
Another poor quality image of the missed sunset.
Even the pics I took using my larger camera were of poor quality. it was just too dark by the time we got to this point.
Taken with my larger camera I managed to get a blurry shot of the fog rising.
Another poor shot of the missed sunset with my larger camera.
Zoomed shot in a desperate attempt to get a usable image !
My last shot before putting the larger camera up !
John`s pic of the same image above this one ! (photo by John Forbes)

The next day was going to start early as Tyler and I had already booked the first zip-line slot of the day ! This was something neither of us had ever done before and we had been looking very forward to it. Of course John was on the clock for this so we got to see this part of what he did to earn his paycheck there ! We were fortunate enough to have some really good folks in our group. Mostly older than us, one of which was an elderly lady who was also doing this for her first time. Kinda a bucket list sort of thing. She was very excited and added a very positive energy to the mood. After they harnessed us up and gave us the needed instructions we headed out to the first tower. That first lunge of faith off the tower into thin air was breathtaking to put it mildly but, no one had any issues and it only got better from there ! With three towers in total, this was well worth the money spent !

Our zip-line group
Group shot just before climbing onto the first tower ! Some were actually inclined to Gnome pose with me !
Getting ready to take the leap of faith !
No stopping us now !

By the time it was over and we got shuttled back to the starting point, it was lunch time so we headed to the Lodge restaurant for some more of their delicious food. Since John had to finish his work shift, Tyler and I had a few hours to kill so we went exploring around some other large cliffs near the zip-line towers. They were huge and we could see exactly what we have been flying over top of earlier ! While climbing around under a huge overhanging rock we noticed some very unique markings on the rock that we had no explanation for. They almost looked human made but, I think it is just a coincidence.

Checking out some cliffs
Looking up we can see the cliffs keep going up a lot. We opted to be on top rather than along the base.
Exploring higher up on the cliffs
Above us was as much more cliff as there was below us ! Huge overhangs as well.
The cliffs kept going on forever and they were very large and in charge !
Tyler checking things out under one of the giant overhangs
Looking down towards the river we could now understand why cliffs this big are so easily hidden along the tops of these ridges due to the trees that grow strategically along their edges
This is when I spotted the strange train track looking markings that run horizontally across this cliff face
Zooming in on the strange markings
Further zoom in on the odd markings
Super zoom of the markings
Tyler stands under one of the overhangs to show the scale of it
Climbing to the top of the cliffs led us to the tourist overlook which is just below the second zip-line tower. This is the signature view of the park.
Looking up from the overlook view I spotted the zip-line cables coming from the first tower.
Looking the other direction you see the tourist overlook sign and to the right of it in the distance is where the other zip-line towers are located
View looking towards ‘The Towers’
Zooming in towards The Towers
Zooming in close on The Towers. Probably my best pic considering the intense bright sunlight. Sadly enough I did not get the chance to go to the towers before John stopped working there but, I hope to in the future.

While checking out that area we also got to see the zip-line crew practicing some rescue techniques off in the distance. This was also fun to watch. I did my best to get some zoomed shots of this with my pocket cam.

Looking towards the far ridge I could see someone hanging on the sip-line. Look close, do you see it ?
Zooming in A LOT !! Now do you see them ?
With more zoom you can tell someone is stuck between towers. Knowing there were no more runs scheduled for the day it was apparent this was a practice rescue mission by the guides.
Zooming in farther we recognize that it is one of the zip-line guides
And here comes another one to the rescue !
Bringing out a rope to tie them off to so they can be pulled back in to the other tower. It is quite amazing to watch these folks do their job as they are very good at it.
And here comes another one !
Checking out the tower near us to show what it looks like to step up on the stool and get ready to launch ! (because they would not allow us to have cameras while we were actually zip-lining)
This is what it looks like just before you step off the edge of the tower !!! Of course I always back up as far as I can and take a running go as that makes it go faster and ensures that you will not slow down and get stuck between the towers and have to be rescued !
Looking down at the first tower.
Looking over towards the other parts of the zip-line you can see the guides on the line and some tourists at the overlook there.
Tyler at tower one

After that we got in the car as it was getting very hot by this time of day, to cool off some and drive around the park to check out what else it had to offer. After a complete drive around the entire park we ended up back at the visitors center where there are lots of interesting historical things both inside and out. They also had cold drinks and ice cream !

Some old stuff around the visitor center
Tyler checks out a mock moonshine still at the visitor center
The salt kettle was an interesting piece of history
The actual salt kettle
Too bad we did not bring our axes and hatchets with us !!
Period correct log cabin on display
Historical information
Inside the visitor center museum they had another moonshine still that was much older and primitive
Lots if cool things inside the museum here
More Indian artifacts
Daniel Boone is credited for discovering The Breaks
Definitely some Civil War history in this region
Several interesting items to see here
Checking out the huge double work of the old moonshine still !
Plenty of wildlife on display here including a modern human. Oh wait, that`s Tyler !
Some very good taxidermy here.
Resident bear
The history of coal is displayed and explained here too.
Coal mining was a huge part of the history of this area and still is !

By this time it was already late afternoon and it would not be much longer before John would be off work and we would begin the rest of this days adventures. After a short rest John was ready to lead us again. This time would start with the Ridge Trail and Geological Trail down towards The Notches where some of the natural caves are found. After a very short hike we found ourselves once again immersed into another world. After climbing down to a much lower level than our previous trips, our first stop would be making our way to the dead end of another large crack. This one was very unique in shape and color due to some white substance on the colorful red rocks there which I did my best to capture with my pocket camera.

Looking down into a small slot canyon
John leads us into new territory (for us) among some giant rock formations
Entrance to the slot canyon we were looking down at earlier.it would continue about this much more beyond the fallen tree there only much tighter.
Looking back at Tyler who is checking out one of the huge rock formations before we entered into the slot canyon
John pauses to look up at the huge rocks before entering into the slot
John at the back of the slot canyon. I had to use a flash for this as it was dark in there
John at the rear of the slot.
John smokes it over as I see the HUGE
guillotine rock wedged in above him.
Looking farther up the very tall and very tight crack you can see more rocks that could potentially fall on us and some daylight !
Looking deeper into the rear of the slot you can see how tight it keeps becoming. The white substance just added to the effect.
Tyler and I deep within the slot (photo by John Forbes)
Making our way back out of the slot
Looking up you can see just how deep this slot is !
John takes one final look before leaving the slot

From there John took us farther up this ravine to where we climbed up and into an actual living cave. Small but, very enjoyable with an array of colors and inhabitants. We did not see the bat that John knew lived there but, we did see a nice black, speckled salamander that obviously calls this place home. Making our way to the butt end of this very dark chasm did not take long yet, was very enjoyable. It would be just one of many stops before this days journey would end.

John climbing up to the entrance of the ‘living cave’
Looking past the cave entrance at the continuing ‘Valley of the Giants’ you can see more caves present as there are more here than you have time to explore !
Tyler doing a selfie with me climbing up to the cave entrance in the background
After climbing up into the cave I use my flash to find John waiting on us there.
John inside the living cave
Following John and Tyler deeper into the cave. it was total darkness so I had to use my flash to get any pics.
Cute little black salamander hanging out in the cave
Tyler got a better pic of the black salamander (photo by Tyler Tarpley)
Following the Gnome deeper into the cave as it became more and more narrow.
Tyler and me at the back of the living cave. (photo by John Forbes)
My view of Tyler and John as I exited the cave.
A quick look back into the cave before my departure.

After leaving the cave area, John led us on a short cut to the main event where we would join him in a climb up to one of his favorite spots in the park. A huge overhanging ledge on a very tall and vertical cliff. This would afford views and access to the entire cliff system of this area which we spent quite a bit of time playing around on. The views were amazing as usual.

Just one of many large rock towers as we make our way through the Valley of the Giants.
One of the tallest and most narrowest rock towers. John would have us climb to the top of this for gnome posing photos !
Gnoming this high puckering perch with Tyler (photo by John Forbes)
More small caves in the area we did not have time to explore.
Obligatory warning signs.
Group shot (Photo by Tyler Tarpley)
John stands atop one of his favorite perches
Gnomes almost always break out into this pose when they are happy !
Looking down from another sphincter tightening puckering perch ! Yes there IS air under this !
The leaning Rock Tower of Pisa
Nearby cliffs. There are a lot of these.
Fog rising effect photo op : provided by John (he charges extra for this)
Me climbing up behind John up a very steep and slick crack to reach the top of the cliff seen in the previous image (Photo by Tyler Tarpley)

This time we were watching our time more closely as we did not want to miss another sunset. Never knowing how good it`s going to be, we wanted to make sure we got up to the chosen viewing spot in plenty of time before the show began. This required a very technical climb up another steep crack to reach the top of the cliff that John had chosen as one of his favorites in the park for sunset viewing. We got there just in time. There were a lot of clouds which we feared would block any chance of a decent sunset but, we were pleasantly surprised as it turned out there was a storm on the horizon which just added to the effects.

best I could do with my crappy cameras. John got a phenomenal picture of this which I will share later in this series.
Photo by John Forbes
Storms coming when we first arrived (taken with my larger camera)
The incredible part of this sunset would be to watch the sun literally burn a hole through the storm clouds ! (taken with larger camera)
Zoomed shot using larger camera
Zoomed shot of the rain taken with larger camera
Zoomed shot shows the steam rising on left side after the rain has passed over it and the sun continuing to burn through the clouds (taken with larger camera)
Taken with larger camera
The ball of the sun starting to appear (taken with larger camera)
Taken with larger camera
The main event starting to happen (taken with my larger camera)
This would have been great with a better camera !
Like I said, this is what it looks like with a better camera ! (photo by John Forbes)
Starting to get some star burst. Surprising though with my limited f stop ability.
This is about as good as it would get. I probly should have removed my ND and Polarizer filters
Zooming in you can see the rain is still coming down on both sides of the sunset !
The car headlights barely seen in the lower left display the magnitude of this view
To see this person was quite the scene
This is how it looks when a real camera is used ! (photo by John Forbes)
This was the party after the party

We watched the entire event unfold and the crescent moon came up to add even more effect to this wondrous spectacle. Even though it was not the best sunset I have ever seen, it was also not the worst. Best part was the storm did not come our way ! We hung out on the puckering perch watching the colors and cloud formations change with every minute until it we were in total darkness.

Loved it when the moon showed up !
Taken with larger camera

Taking our time was required on the way back in the pitch black night as it was mostly off trail and uphill through dense woods to reach the road that would lead back to the car. Once back to the Gnome home I took a much needed shower, ate some food and was not long before we were all nodding off. I was a tired RAT and would sleep better on this night compared to the first. The next morning Tyler and I would be up early and heading back South for the next part of our RAT-cation adventure plans. There was a heavy fog rising out of the Russell Fork River Valley when we said our goodbyes and headed out of the park. It was very surreal and although we had a grand time while we were there and I was hating that we had to leave, (especially since I did not get the opportunity to go on an Elk Tour) I was still looking forward to the rest of the adventure to come

Heavy fog the next morning so on our way out I checked to see if the Towers were appearing as an island in the clouds but, alas they were not as that is a rare occurrence.
We said our goodbyes to the Breaks Interstate Park

Our next plan was to go to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in North Carolina to check that off my bucket list. From the Breaks Park, the logistics would require driving all the way back home to Johnson City and basically starting over. About 3 hours later we were back to JC and driving past the exit to our house wondering what the hell we were doing ! Another 3 hours later we were in the Nantahala River Gorge watching the rafters float by and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad chug along the tracks. It was a very hot, sunny day with postcard blue skies so, the furthest thing from our mind as we turned off to go to Joyce Kilmer was the hurricane (Florence) that was bearing down on the states farther South as it was not expected to reach us for another day or two. All I could think of was how nice it was going to be hiking up to the big trees we were going to see. After a gorgeous drive through the mountains and around to Santeetlah Lake we finally reached the turn off to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest and all those thoughts and dreams were suddenly shattered. Due to the way our government works, they had already decided to take an extra long weekend and shut down everything a few days in advance of the storm.

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad along the Nantahala River
In hindsight we should have went beyond the barriers and had the area to ourselves.

Finding the entrance blocked after driving all that way really was disheartening and actually pissed me off. Especially after a Forest Ranger drove right past us while we were parked at the barriers looking at a map etc and did not even wave or stop to check us out. Normally I would just go past the barriers and have the area all to ourselves and I almost did because it was obvious no one would have cared but, knowing my luck and since I am a forest service volunteer of 25+ years and was recently given a key to a forest service gate, I decided it was not worth the risk of getting caught and possibly being fined and/or having my privileges revoked so we moved on and drove down to a local waterfall to check it out and chill out for awhile.

As you can see, there is no ‘hurricane’ in sight.

I found a nice gravel shortcut from JK over to Yellow Falls where it is a short hike up to them. A very popular place so we did see a few others coming and going which I did not care because the sun was so intensely bright that there was no way to get a usable picture of the falls anyway. We checked them out and then decided we would just head on to Murphy, NC which is not far away to visit my brother and stay the night there.

Yellow Creek Falls
Yellow Creek Falls
Yellow Creek Falls
Yellow creek Falls
Yellow Creek Falls
Yellow Creek Falls. Despite the bright sun I did my best with my larger camera
Yellow Creek Falls (taken with my larger camera)
Yellow Creek Falls (taken with larger camera)
Yellow Creek Falls (taken with larger camera) Tyler was standing on top of the falls in the laurels but can not be seen in the photo.
Yellow Creek Falls with some kids playing at the base
Yellow Creek Falls. Tyler is on top in the laurels but can not be seen .
Tyler`s view from atop Yellow Cr. Falls. (Photo by Tyler Tarpley)
Tyler took this pic of me from atop the falls yet I did not see him !

We drove around the other side of Santeetlah Lake and on to Murphy where we stopped to get a bite to eat before heading on to my brothers house located deep in the Snowbird Mountains. They were happy to see us and we had a really nice visit there reminiscing, eating some good home cooked food, and getting a good nights sleep in an actual bed !! The next day we hung out until the afternoon before heading back home. The clouds had moved in and the wind was picking up. We ran into rain before we would make it home. This was the tip of hurricane as it reached the area. it never amounted to much for us but the Carolina’s did experience some record flooding. Even though we were unable to get into the Joyce Kilmer area, and I will have to make another trip to mark that off the list, it was still a excellent adventure and I felt blessed to be able to get away and enjoy it with my son Tyler. Until next time,,,

Small part of the beautiful Santeetlah Lake
Hornets nest on guard rail near my brothers house
Huge hornets nest on road to my brothers house.
Thick fog and rain from the tip of the hurricane coming down from Sam`s Gap on I-26. Almost home.

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Posted on 1 February '19 by , under RATtreks.

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