The Ultimate Adventure Report

A 6 mile walk in the woods for this? Worth it!



Went up to WV this past weekend to hang out with @Haggis, @Greg and @Andy. The drive up was provided some nice views:



At camp:




Saturday we took a tour around the area lead by @Haggis:








With some nasty weather due to blow in on Sunday we packed up camp and said our goodbyes before heading out mid-morning. I turned the truck southish and decided to drive the northern 1/3 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. On the way to the Parkway I explored some FS roads and made note of some dispersed camp sites I came across.




Crossing that dry creek bed led to this:


Which was immediately adjacent to this:


The rumbles of thunder in the air kept me from doing any exploring on foot.
From there I made my way over to the Parkway where long range views are abundant.


The Parkway might be limited to 45mph, but I pretty much had it to myself only seeing a couple of other cars the entire afternoon. As evening got closer I started diving off onto FS roads that cross the Parkway looking for a campsite. This was option one:


But a quick walk to the top revealed that this site had some long term residents:



I tried to do some research on this fella to see what I could find out. The only thing I came across was a newsletter from a local history museum that mentions the grave (and one other) along with a foundation of a building that's nearby. It was noted that the foundation was that of a church and/or school. I'd love to know more about this gentleman's life and how he came to be buried on the top of this ridge. Turning to leave the area after paying my respects I managed to spook a deer that had apparently bedded down in a nearby rhododendron thicket. It jumped up and snorted scaring the crap out of me. I threatened to give it's home address to @Haggis and continued on my way.

Eventually I found an unlocked gate that lead to a very rough road off the Parkway. It was quite obvious this was a destination for local jeepers. Not too far down the road I came across this creek side campsite and setup for the night.





Other than a group of teenagers in a couple of 4runners rolling past around sundown I had the place to myself. I turned on caveman TV and, not surprisingly, my favorite show was on:


The next morning I drowned and stirred the fire pit, packed up and headed for the closest overlook I could find on the Parkway. I cooked breakfast off the tailgate while watching the sun come up.


It was a great trip. I'm ready to go again.
Quick little trip on Saturday to check out a FS campground I ran across on a Youtube video.


Nice spots right on the creek. Wet, muddy and cold this weekend but probably hugely popular during the summer months.


Spent a few hours slogging through the muddy conditions in the Cohutta wilderness. It was a bit like driving through a horror movie, made all of the mountain overlooks useless.


Stopped to see this little side of the road water fall.


Obligatory "I have all my lights on" instagram shot :rolleyes::


Running all the amber lighting made it much easier for all of the mountain bikers to see us in the fog though. There were 15 or 20 guys riding up the ridge and then racing the 4 miles back down to the bottom throwing mud all over themselves while hooting and hollering. Made me realize I should probably add some rear amber lighting for rear visibility in these types of conditions since they're pretty common in the SE.
Vegas, it's a cesspool of filth. But outside of town is nice.

Had a few hours before catching a flight back to Atlanta so I headed out to see the snow in Red Rock Canyon. It was 61 degrees in town and 51 out in the canyon. The locals and visiting Californians were in parkas and passing around brochures about the signs of frostbite. I garnered strange looks in my short sleeve t-shirt.







Did a little hiking around Spring Mountain Ranch State Park and read all the historical markers I could find. Neat place.







It's the last founding ranch that the city hasn't absorbed. Howard Hughes owned it at one point. Would have liked to hike through the Ash groves but I was running short on time and the mud was super thick due to the snow from the previous day. I'll be back in a few weeks so maybe I'll head back out then.
Where is this?

You should have called me - I could always use a break from staring at the screen...

Wildcat Campground where Fall Creek and Amicalola Creek converge off Steve Tate Hwy. I was checking out fishing options and a close by place to escape the heat this summer. Some hiking out there that ties back to Tobacco Pouch Trail and Eagles Rest which is also a cool area if you haven't made it up that way.
So @Scott B. said, "Let's run the GA Traverse" over on a Tacoma based forum and I said, "Alright."

I picked up my friend Jeremy from his place around 12:30 last Friday and set out to meet up with Scott and a couple other Tacoma forum members in Clayton GA. The plan was to pick up the route in Dillard and run west, making it as far as we could / wanted too by sometime on Sunday. Jeremy and I then had plans to continue on into Alabama. I've got almost no photos from the Traverse run as the majority of time was spent driving the picturesque forest service roads of GA or hanging out at camp. Here's a random shot of some moss, rocks and water though:


The first night we found the woods to be full of people. We'd planned to camp at one of the 3 FS campgrounds near Tate City, but found all of them completely full. Most primitive sites off the Traverse were full as well, and we finally found a large enough spot just over the NC state line that we could share with a group of locals. They informed us they'd be "drinking, playing music loud and getting rowdy" that night. While they did play music until midnight, their version of rowdy was quite tame in my opinion. Listening to Raggae Fusion music at 10:30pm is the cost of traveling a popular route on a holiday weekend on the eastern side of the US.

The second day had us continue on the Traverse where we ran some entertaining roads, found a couple of road closures and ultimately we made a beeline for Jacks River Fields campground in the Cohutta Wilderness. Scott and one of the other members of the group had been here before and I'd scoped it out last November:


Our decision to head to camp quickly paid off as we snagged the last 2 open sites. Food was cooked, the campfire was lit and another evening was spent in conversation around the campfire as the temperatures dipped into the high 30's overnight. Our closest camping neighbors serenaded us with a country radio station out of TN and we were privileged to overhear their entertaining conversations about travel:

<Neighbor 1> "...and then we ended up in TN."
<Neighbor 2> "How'd you do that?"
<Neighbor 1> "We crossed the state line."
<Neighbor 2> "No! How'd you get there?"
<Neighbor 1> "We took a right and kept going, kept going, kept going."

Very nice folks. They even let Scott borrow their gas powered leaf blower to clear his campsite. All the comforts of home can be found in the woods.

The next morning we ate breakfast and then planned to run the northern portion of the Big Frog Loop part of the Traverse. The plan was for folks to peel away from the trail as needed and we set out. There were a couple of fun washed out areas that required a little spotting and I was able to turn my truck into a two wheeled teeter totter at one point, nearly giving @Hun a heart attack. Jeremy and I found it fun. With Scott's assistance spotting and by moving about 6 inches to the right we cleared the obstacle and the rest of the party followed suite. The only photo a I took during this portion of the trip came today with one of the Tacoma Forum members navigating down a washed out area. His first "offroad" outing in his MT truck. It always looks so much more tame in photos:


Around lunchtime I saw that my ETA for the Bankhead National Forest in AL was creeping closer and closer to dark thirty. We hit a point in the trail where Jeremy and I could split from the group so said our goodbyes and headed west. We were hoping for less crowds in the forests of Alabama. Crossing a TVA dam on the way out of the Cohutta Wilderness we saw this fella moving in:

Putting in some interstate miles while listening to a pod cast about the fall of various ancient civilizations, we made short work of the 220 miles between us and Brushy Lake Campground in the Bankhead National forest. Unfortunately the woods of Alabama were also full this weekend. We scored the last open campsite and set to work scavenging firewood and making dinner. Temps were more mild overnight, only dipping into the high 50's. After a hot breakfast the next morning, we set out in search of all the waterfalls we'd missed when we were here in July of 2021.

First up we visited Kinlock Springs and hiked a little way up into the forest beyond looking at the old road beds and how the forest has taken the land back.


The spring was still flowing inside the stone/concrete enclosure, although the dry weather in this area had it down to just a trickle.


Spotted some bright American Beautyberry growing wild out here. Deer love the leaves and birds love the berries. They're edible, but I've never tried them.


The trail here was well marked and wound up the hill over a large rock surface that supported only the smallest of pine trees. It seemed they could get enough of a foothold to grow until they reached about 20ft high or so and then they'd fall over, unable to cling to the thin layer of soil that covered parts of the rock face.


Next up was Kinlock Falls. This waterfall is almost immediately off the side of the road, and has multiple points with which to access it from the dirt road. We started down the hill and came over the top off the falls looking into the pool it forms before Hubbard Creek continues south. The view upstream revealed just how dry it's been in the area lately with the creek bed largely exposed and very little water flowing.



Exploring further downstream gives a view of the falls and how the creek has carved through the rock over the ages.


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Next up was Parker Falls. This hike is about 2 miles and takes you along some cliff sides with a considerable drop off to the bottom of the ravine below. Nothing too precarious as the path was usually 8 to 10 feet wide. There are supposedly pictographs on some of the rocks in Bankhead, but we didn't manage to find any during this trip despite most of our hikes including huge rock formations.




I'd say this is more of a cascade than a waterfall, but it was wonderfully cool down in this cove which was welcomed after the 2 mile trek.




We spent the remainder of the day wandering around Bankhead, exploring various dirt roads and making note of dispersed campsites. Several of the falls we'd set out to see were just a trickle or there wasn't any water flowing at all due to the lack of rain. A return trip after some wet weather may be in order. After a while we decided to head over toward the Talladega National Forest to do a little exploring.
After exiting the Bankhead National Forest we worked our way through Alabama farmland to meet up with I20. After a required stop at Buc-ees in Leeds AL we made our way further east heading for Cheaha State Park, the highest point in AL. We'd selected Cheaha to take advantage of the bathhouse in the improved campground and it's promise of a hot shower. This came with everything you'd expect in a state park campground: kids on bikes, RV's with generators, glamping tents and Halloween decorations. Overall it wasn't bad though and the facilities were well kept. After a good night's sleep we set out to explore the park visiting Pulpit Rock and the CCC built observation tower.




The walls of the tower are over 2 feet thick.


When we had checked in to the state park the I had asked the attendant if they knew anything about the forest service roads in the area. 600-1 and 600-2 (further to the south) are well documented routes out on the interweb, but I was fishing for local knowledge. She let us know about a FS road that was nearby that went out to some of the more popular local spots. With her directions scribbled on a photocopied map we set out to do some exploring. Her advice was solid and we spent the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon exploring roads that got technical in spots. We found the local mud holes and gathered several bags full of trash to dispose of later. It's a very cool area that deserves more exploration at a later date.





We eventually worked our way out of the forest and headed for Little River Canyon. Jeremy and I had visited the canyon with @Scott B. a few years back and had been turned around by a fast moving water crossing of unknown depth. I figured the dry conditions would have alleviated that obstacle and I wanted to explore the roads surrounding the canyon. We stopped at some of the notable overlooks to get a view of the river. It was quite different from the previous visits I've made.

The falls on this visit:

The falls in 2012:

The river in the canyon was barely flowing, in most places it was just pools of standing water.


We set out to find the creek crossing that deterred us during our 2019 visit and found this:


Very different from the previous visit:


This is Hurricane Creek and it flows into the Little River about 100 or so feet after the crossing. Today there was no water to be found:


Pressing on, the road network opens up into a number of loops, dead ends and roads that have been closed for what appeared to be 30+ years. There are several places to cross the Little River here, all of which were dry with sure footing today.


We wandered around for the remainder of the afternoon, exploring roads, making notes on maps about roads that didn't exist any longer and flagging some campsites for future use. As it got later in the evening we headed for Cloudland Canyon State Park just over the GA border. Cloudland is one of those state parks that I'd always tried to get to during outings but always seemed to miss. Several friends of mine had talked up it's incredible views and the amazing park. I have to say, the park itself was a bit of a let down. If you're an RVing family looking for other kids for your children to play with, well established playgrounds / facilities, tractor pulled hayrides during October and some views with a very easy approach this place is probably for you. There are some back country hiking opportunities here that were appealing, but none of them actually required entering the park as they're all accessible at trailheads further north or by using approach trails from other areas. We decided to head for home after this since it was only a couple hours away.

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