Saturday, November 28, 2015

Black Friday in Dupont Forest

Yesterday, as much of North American engaged in the retail hysteria that is Black Friday, I continued the tradition that I started a couple years ago (Stories here, and here), and went on a day long excursion to enjoy the outdoors, the way the Good Lord intended.

Personal note:  This year REI had a campaign that expanded on my tradition by closing all their stores on Black Friday and paying their employees to go outside.  I like to think that it was my influence that brought about this epic campaign that they called #OptOutside.  Thanks REI! (disclaimer: I don't actually think this, but its still awesome, and my hats off to them.)

This year I mixed things up a bit, and went on a combination bike and hike in the beautiful Dupont Forest, in the mountains near Asheville North Carolina. So early yesterday morning I loaded the Geobike of Destiny onto the Geovan of Destiny, and headed into the mountains.

Dupont is home to an incredible series of scenic waterfalls, and I wanted to check out as many of them as I could (as well as find some geocaches, cause thats how I roll).  My first stop was the Bridal Veil Falls.  From the parking lot I rode my bike along the access roads to the base of the falls, and subsequently parked my bike at what may possible be then most scenic bike rack I've ever had the pleasure of using.

Dupont forest has been used for a couple films over the years, most famously for The Last of The Mohicans, and several of the arena scenes for Hunger Games.  Katniss escaped the fireballs in the first movie by jumping into a pool at the base of these falls.
The base of the falls is nothing over spectacular, except in scale.  It is your basic "lots of water sliding down a relatively shallow rock face".  The top of the falls are supposed to be a lot more scenic, but there was no obvious way to get there. There was too much water, due to the epic amount of rain we received lately, to climb the falls, and the park maps did not show a trail that went all the way, but there was an earth cache up there, so I figured there must be a path, so I got on my GeoBike of Destiny, took to the single-track trails, and worked my way over to the top of the falls.
It looked promising when I got to Bridal Overlook trail, however that trail leads to an overlook (and not a good one) that ends at a cliff.  I backtracked and found an unmarked trail that lead to the falls.

This section of the falls has a large opening behind the water where one can hang out without getting wet.  Apparently in The Last Of The Mohicans, this is where Daniel Day Lewis goes to Mohic (I assume thats what they do, I've never actually seen the movie).
You can get a better idea of the overhang with this shot here.
Once I was done with the Bridal Veil Falls, I biked back to the Geovan of Destiny and drove to another parking lot - one more suitable for accessing the other waterfalls.  It was from there that I set out on foot.

This actually proved to be a mistake as the trails are quite bikeable, however the first trail head said "no bikes allowed", but apparently that was just that one small section, and I could have taken the access road a bit farther down to a covered bridge were I could access a bike friendly trail that would take me to all the waterfalls I wanted to see - oh well, live and learn.

The first set of falls was High Falls, named because they are high (I assume). They are actually quite impressive in both height and volume of water.  The scenic covered bridge sure didn't hurt.
The trail leads to the bottom of the falls, where one gets the full impression of the power of the falling water.   There also appears to be fish (or at least fishermen).
The final set of falls I explored is Triple Falls, named in the grand tradition of the blatantly obvious due to it being a series of three falls in quick succession.  They are rather scenic.

The falls are another location that was shown in Hunger Games, as this is the place where Katniss discovered Peeta disguised as a rock.  Very exciting. The park installed a series of stairs that leads down to the rocks between the second and third tiers of the falls.

Looking downstream one can see that there is quite the drop before the river flattens out again.  I highly reccomend taking the trails instead of swimming it.
Following my own advice I took the trail down to the base of the falls.  Along the way is an overlook that provides the best fire of the entire set of Triple Falls in all their hyper-violent murderous dystopian future (if you believe the movies) or awesome power of nature (if you believe in reality) glory.

I'll let you decide.
On that note it is time to end this tale of adventure.  Did you folks #OptOutside on Black Friday?  If so, tell me about it in the comments below.