After several days off to recuperate from our last trip (to Buckeye Falls), the day before the official start of Spring found us going back to the Monkeyhead rocks aka: The Sill Branch Overlook. I had not been back there since our first expedition back in April of 2009 when we experienced the grueling ‘meatgrinder‘ ridge when my stealth pack was temporarily lost. We did not have much time to explore that day so we took this day to do just that.
It was the first sunny, hot, day in quite sometime and it felt good although being exposed out on the rock cliffs was like being baked in an oven. My son Tyler, Bol’Dar, and I got our usual late start around 1:30 pm that afternoon and it only took about an hour or so to make it up the somewhat hidden trail to the crest of the ridge where the turn off to the rocks lies among the growth and destruction that is found there. It`s basically a bush-wack traverse over to where the rocks reside. We came out to the place we had found before where we rested briefly enjoying the views looking over the entire North and South forks of the Sill Branch valley (and beyond), the ‘volcano‘ and Sampson mountain, before deciding to make our way further to check out the rest of the rock formations that continue like a vein bulging out the side of the ridge.
Each set of rocks has its own uniqueness, and they seem to get more vertical and taller as they progress out the ridge although looking at them from below or across from the other adjacent ridges they seem much smaller than when you are actually standing on top or climbing underneath them. It is very steep and very dangerous to be messing around there so this hike is not recommended for just anyone. We finally managed to get out to almost the last cliff when we were rewarded with a birds eye view of the Sill Branch falls (lower) which was very satisfying. Another ‘big picture’ that I am guessing no one else has. For more pics of these falls please visit the photo gallery.
The last set of cliffs had some small pines growing on top which made a nice oasis for us to get out of the sun where we relaxed for awhile watching and listening to the pulsing roar of the falls below. The huge black birds (crows we call ‘uragu`s’) were flying overhead and making a fuss as it seems this is their place and they were letting us know it. We rested there and then began making our way back across the ‘Picasso-like‘ rocks over to the first ones where the ‘sphinx-like‘ rock head is located beside the ‘bird-rock where we walked underneath them carefully making our way back to the ridge to fight our way back through the strainers of downed trees and growth to get back to the trail.
We got back to the main trail head before too late where I ended up slipping into the creek and getting a bit wet just before getting into the car ! It felt good actually and Bol’Dar captured it in a picture! Hairnt! Although not a long hike, it did leave its share of cuts, bruises and abrasions or as our friend Mel says ; they are rather to be called ‘merit badges’ ! I wear mine proudly and I`m sure I will be going back there again as it is truly an awesome place.
You know it is Spring when you see the frog eggs and it is a welcome site for these eyes.
See more photos of this area in the photo gallery.