Week of Waterfalls
I love great opportunities that just fall into my lap.
Thanks to the generous folks at Pilot Cove, a group of luxury cabins between Brevard, NC and the Pisgah National Forest, we were able to spend a few nights in some outstanding accommodations at the gateway to the Land of Waterfalls. Some of you know that I created an Instagram page called @Discover_Carolinas to highlight the beauty of both North and South Carolina. (Most people have trouble distinguishing the difference between the two states anyway so I spotlight scenic locations of both states in one place.) Anyway, thanks to over 46,000 followers on this Instagram hub of mine, some people consider me an “influencer”. 😉
Brevard is only a 30-45 minute drive from our house but it does entail going over the mountains. Actually spending the night in that location opened the door to some really great opportunities to explore.
First, we dropped Wanda, our converted camper van, at the Brevard dealership for some routine maintenance. We’ve only driven her 12-15,000 miles (through 19 states) but it was time for the 60,000-mile checkup.
Our next stop was the Pisgah National Forest Visitor Center to get a map of waterfalls. We were looking for some new ones or ones we hadn’t done in years and needed directions. The ranger we spoke to was super helpful! I had a short list of waterfalls and she sized us up and told us which ones to focus on! One was Daniel Ridge Falls. She assured us our Civic could handle the gravel road to the parking lot but not to think about traveling farther down that road. Then she pointed out some simple to reach falls closer to the Blue Ridge Parkway and I pointed to a spot on the map and commented “that’s where we tried going a few years ago but got a hincky feeling about the directions”. She suddenly had more respect for us and said “oh, you’ve been reading so-and-so’s book”. We had not; I was just acting on an Instagram post I had seen years ago. She again assured us that after the first 30 yards this was a well-maintained Forest Service road and we could do it with no problem—just ignore the two sketchy properties you have to pass between when you first turn off the asphalt. She then led us to the bookstore, selected a thick book off the shelf, turned to page 217, and told me to take a picture of the directions! Then she disappeared to help another tourist. Now THAT is quality service! We were now ready to explore.
As promised, our Civic easily dodged the potholes and reached the parking lot for Daniel Ridge Falls. I can be a little judgmental of people I encounter on the trail and I wondered if the young lady who was being overly friendly in the parking lot was casing our car and my camera equipment. Turns out she was really that sweet and we later had a great conversation about traveling cross country. She and her husband/boyfriend were quitting their jobs for 4 months to drive to the west coast. We were excited for them!
Even by our “standards” it was an easy trail to the falls. I set up my tripod and began experimenting with long exposure photos of the waterfall. This was my first time if you don’t count the failed attempts of doing the same of the kitchen faucet. Another young lady set up beside me. I must have looked confident in what I was doing because within a few minutes she began asking me questions and I did my best to help her. Then a family of three (and a dog) arrived and did a great job of disturbing the serenity we had all been enjoying. (I judged them pretty accurately.) This was a good hike—one we had done many years before but it felt like the first time.
One of the best things about finishing that hike was that we could go check into our cabin fifteen minutes away and take a shower! That evening we enjoyed some delicious food and hiked a couple more miles trying to get a view of the sunset. Because we were only 25 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, we decided we would get up early the next morning for sunrise on the parkway.
The 5AM alarm was cruel but we were in place for sunrise on the parkway just as the colors began to glow. We then drove the parkway in both directions. Being that early, we only encountered a handful of other vehicles making it even more pleasant. Our next big stop was the waterfall at the end of the Forest Service gravel road. It was so amazing. A large fallen tree did interfere with long range pictures but it was still worth the trip. At 10mph we made our way a couple miles back to the asphalt and headed “downhill”. At some point a building and the river invoked a memory of another photo I had seen on Instagram. It took four U-turns before I felt comfortable maneuvering the drop-off from the asphalt to a parking space on the shoulder. From there a short walk down to the river revealed another amazing waterfall. Surely this was heaven.
We scored a few gallons of gas just as the east coast seemed to be running dry and then headed to the cabin. That night, and all the next morning, it rained. We picked up Wanda, walked around downtown Brevard after lunch and then, when the rain finally cleared out, we drove five minutes to Looking Glass Falls before calling it a day.
We headed home in the morning but not before stopping at two more waterfalls (High Falls and Triple Falls) at DuPont State Forest.
I could stand more weeks like this.