I was following the advice of a fellow hiker/blogger, Tom Mangan, www.tommangan.net/twoheeldrive/. I wanted to create a blog and share my hiking experiences with those that would be interested in them. I remember him telling me to choose a catchy name, but one that does not tell the entire story. While I still do not believe I have accomplished that, I did choose a name that represents what has been the fuel and primary motivation for my hiking, seeing waterfalls. This is how ‘Waterfallshiker” began.
I have been an avid “Day Hiker” for several years now. As a Day Diker, I usually do hikes that are in the 5-7 mile range. Some are as short as 1 mile and I have hiked as much as 12 1/2 in a day. This is usually over pretty rough terrain, as I definitely prefer mountain trails over anything accessible at the lower elevations. In the location where I live in western NC, there are endless trails and waterfalls to pursue all within a 3 hour drive at the most. I feel like I have hiked all over the state, yet I know I have only scratched the surface. I have seen somewhere in the range of 50 waterfalls in NC. Knowing that Transylvania County has over 250 waterfalls alone, tells me that my feet have much work to do.
Why waterfalls? On Christmas day in 2007, I was visiting grandparents in Newland, NC. This is a small town outside of Boone, and usually one of the iceboxes of North Carolina in terms of climate. It just happened to be 50 degrees that day, which is warm for that location and after lunch and the opening of gifts, one of my teenage cousins had an interesting question: “Does anyone want to go see a waterfall? I was intrigued, and quickly replied “why not”. So we were off, two teenage cousins, their father, and myself. The 16 year old drove with myself and James in the back. We took off down a very tight road with many curves. All I can remember thinking was “should she be driving this crazy road or should it be one of us” …. Anyway, we made it safely, and after a short walk, there we stood on the top of Elk Falls. I was taken away. It was stunningly beautiful. The large rocks at the top allow you to literally walk to the edge, although I do not recommend doing this. We then took the trail that leads down to the base where a large rock leads halfway out into the Elk River. The view you have at this point is amazing. A very large pool waves up to the rock you stand on and the view of the waterfall was awesome. This is an amazing place to swim in the summer and boy is it packed with people, I later found out. Any way we trekked downstream a bit, I remember stepping on a log that was not stable and my leg went knee deep in the river. The waterfall was so beautiful though I did not even get pissed, maybe only 1 four letter word, or 2. There is just a special peace of mind when visiting one of these gems up close, certainly an escape from the real world and all of the problems that exist with it.
From then, I just wanted to see more. I started searching the web for waterfalls in NC. One of the best resources I found was at www.ncwaterfalls.com. This is a website owned by “waterfallrich” or Rich Stevenson, who has been doing this since 1998. If there is a waterfall in NC and you wish to see it, chances are he has pictures of it and directions of how to find it. It is a great resource. He is now venturing into South Carolina, and Tennessee, which also has some really nice waterfalls. Another great resource, almost of equal value to me is the book, “North Carolina Waterfalls” by Kevin Adams. This book is nearly 600 pages long, considering it is all focused on one state, that should tell you that Mr Adams has covered it pretty well. This book is actually a resource for WaterfallRich as well. I have other books and other websites I use, but these are definitely the main two, and the first two that any newbie should consider. By the way Mr. Adams, if you read this, how about getting your books available on the Kindle or Itunes book store….lol.
Now that we have a passion, and the resources, all we needed to find was the free time, and the gas money. The free time was fairly easy to come up with, I just borrowed some of my time playing golf and put it into walking to waterfalls. The gas money was about the same, green fees for gas money, but with prices of gas the way they are these days, car pooling or just not going out as much has been a sad reality. As I look toward the future, I see no reason to slow down though, the mass number of waterfalls left unseen is still very large, there are close bordering states left to explore and plenty of other points of interest (not waterfalls) left to see. I have also found this to be a great way to exercise, although this was never a reason to do this. So check back with me, I will post my experiences and discoveries and along the way, hope to become a better photographer and blogger.
Some views of Elk Falls, and those that helped me find the passion for this hobby.