Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Geocaching Adventures: High Shoal Falls

Todays* adventure is to grab the two caches at South Mountain State Park.  There are no physical caches allowed in the park, so the two caches are a virtual and an earth cache.

Conveniently both of them are on the trail to one of the parks features: High Shoal Falls.

The trail to the base of the falls is just under a mile, and the information required for the earth cache is located on plaques along the way, so I wandered along the trail the base and gathered the info required to claim the cache along the way.  The virtual required taking a pic at the observation deck.

Standing at the base of the falls you see the following scene:   Immediately before you is a series of rocks about 20-30ft high with several small water falls.  Above that is a small pool of water that collects water from the main falls, about 60ft away.  The main falls extend another 80ft above the pool.  There is a wooden bridge at the base of the falls, which turns into a series of stone and wooden stairs that wind up the left side of the falls.  At the level of the pool is a wooden viewing platform that allows one to get a nice view of the tallest part of the falls.

My original plan was to ascend to the viewing platform then turn back. The climb on the irregular rocks and steep steps was harder than I expected. Exhausted, I spent a decent amount of time taking photos and relaxing on the deck, while listening to the sound of falling water.

Eventually it was time to get moving gain. I walked back to the entrance to the viewing platform with every intention of turning left and heading back down the stairs. My brain looked left, and my feet turned right, and before I realized it I had started to climb the next set of torture stairs. I can't explain why - natural curiosity of needing to know what is around the next corner? Schadenfreude turned inward? Who knows.  I can only say I am glad I did.

Often when I go on hikes I am reminded of scenes from Lord Of The Rings.  Often the Blue Ridge Mountains near my house remind me of the Misty Mountains.  As I was ascending the upper half of the High Shoal Falls stairs I was strongly reminded of the stairs leading to Cirith Ungol - Those are the stairs in the second book (or third movie if you've never read the books (and why not?  They are awesome!)) that led to Shelobs Lair (big giant spider that "kills" Frodo).  Luckily for me the top of my stairs lacked an evil spider, orcs, or wastelands.

Actually, at the top I was treated to the view of a really pretty mountain creek, and the sound of trickling water over small rocks.  The only thing that was ominous about the whole situation was the distant rumble of thunder.

Not wanting to get caught in the rain I hurried along, and made my way down 2 miles of gentle pathways back to my car.  Just as I pulled out of the parking lot it started to rain, so I managed to avoid getting wet on this adventure. (Another thunderstorm would soak me later on in the day, but that is a different story, and you are reading this one.  You can see the bind you're in).

It was a short hike all told, just 2.8 miles, however all the climbing made it very grueling in parts.  I was glad to get back to the car where I could get some rest.

I'll leave you with some more pictures from the day:

* I was so tired tonight from my adventure that I couldn't blog about why I was so tired, so "today" is more of a concept than a fact.