Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Year of Waterfalls - 1

Leisure is a form of silence, not noiselessness. It is the silence of contemplation such as occurs when we let our minds rest on a rosebud, a child at play, a Divine mystery, or a waterfall.
-Fulton Sheen

One can never visit enough waterfalls. And when I look back on the falls I discovered for the first time this year, I just regret that I didn't get around to more.

May 2
Chau-Ram Falls
This one is on Ramsey Creek just before it joins the Chauga River in Oconee County, South Carolina (at Chau-Ram Park on US 76). This was the day I went out hunting for Yellow Lady Slippers in the wild and it wound up being one of the best days of the whole year. Now I want to explore more of the Chauga, a lovely river flowing through what could be my favorite county on the planet.

September 18
Sols Creek Falls
This photo doesn't do justice to the 120-foot waterfall, reached after two-and-a-half miles of paddling across Bear Lake, which was remarkably quiet for a Saturday morning. As I came to shore below the falls, two otter-like critters came scampering over the rocks and into the water. I've come to the conclusion that they were weasels. It was a nice surprise. If anyone asks, I didn't really see this waterfall, I didn't really take this picture. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

September 19
Ledbetter Creek

Pick up the recently-published map of the Bartram Trail in North Carolina, and you'll see this little waterfall on the cover. The hike to this lovely spot begins next to the Nantahala River, not far from the place where William Bartram and Attakullakulla crossed paths in May 1775. If I can ever commandeer a time machine, that meeting is high on the list of events I would like to witness. In 1730, Attakullakulla was one of several Cherokee men who visited London. I'd like to imagine that Attakullakulla regaled Bartram with stories of attending a play at the Globe Theatre decades earlier. The trail to Cheoah Bald crosses Ledbetter Creek before a long, steep climb up the mountain. Just to look at the map, you don't get a sense of what a demanding hike it is (at least for the first couple of miles). Having scaled the toughest part of the trail, I regretted the necessity of turning back before reaching Bartram Falls and Cheoah Bald. It was mighty pretty up there. Maybe next year...

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