Winter Sunset

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beautiful sunset

Good morning Y’all!

It was a bitter cold cloudy winter morning today but not as cold as yesterday. Our low yesterday was 4 degrees and today is was 13 degrees, I think we have a warming trend!

I wanted to share our beautiful sunset from yesterday!

 

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creme brulee

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Rainbow Falls

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rainbow waterfalls

Early fall my daughter Lauren and I hiked the trail from Camp Greenville to Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls is located on the Camp Greenville property in the northern most area of upstate Greenville County, South Carolina Mountain Bridge Wilderness area. This is a really nice short hike to a beautiful waterfall.

All visitors are required to get permission from the camp office before hiking; it is recommending calling ahead to the office at 864-836-3291 for permission. The trail head is unmarked but is just past the main building of Camp Greenville, on the right you will see a small parking area for about 3-4 cars. If you continue to drive to the end of the road you will come to Pretty Place, Symmes Chapel,

trail to rainbow falls

From the trail head, you move quickly through rhododendron and mountain laurel then lots of rock and boulders.

The hike to Rainbow falls from Camp Greenville is a 1.8 mile out and back, the trail is strenuous and is rated difficult 7. The trail descends down the side of a steep sheer cliff into a rugged gorge so the footing is extremely steep and can be treacherous in rainy or icy conditions. The terrain is very steep, rocky with huge boulders and at two places the trail requires the use of ropes to safely maneuver the trail. It is pretty much hard core all the way down into the gorge that will take you about 45 minutes if you are in good shape.

rainbow falls

The falls are part of the Saluda River, view down stream from the falls.

rainbow waterfalls

The hike ends with spectacular views of Rainbow Falls. Rainbow Falls plunges 140 feet over granite cliff surrounded by granite walls

rainbow falls

The view shows the granite rock formations. The water is ice cold year round.

rainbow falls

All of the rocks around the falls are cover with moss and are extremely slippery. Many people fall and get hurt, broken arms and legs when trying to get to the falls every year.

rainbow falls

Needless to say, the hike back up the cliff takes more time and effort than the downward hike but is well worth the hike for the waterfall and views from the trail. As you ascend you can rest along the various ledges and boulders.

It is also possible to hike to these falls from Jones Gap State Park. The trail  from Jones Gap is longer but not as strenuous and not as steep. The return hike is all down hill.

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What’s Not to Like About Moss?

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hreen mountain moss

I decided to go for a quick hike on the mountain this morning. The air was crisp, the temperature was 21 degrees when I started. There are only a few things green on the mountain now, pine trees, white pines, hemlocks, holly trees, mountain laurel and moss! As I hiked around the Northside of the mountain where it is always moist and shaded, I found a few large patches of green moss. The moss I found today was eye-catching green unlike nearly all other plants that have already turned brown.

moss growing on rocks

Many people don’t give moss much thought but what’s not to like about moss? Not sure what type of moss this is but it is different than most I find on the mountain. This variety grows in large clumps.

green moss

This moss was covering large rocks.

clumps-of-moss

I found a really large area of bright green color moss.

close up of moss

A white pine seedling growing in a large patch of moss.

moss-on-rocks

rocks with moss

The moss covers a lot of the large rocks.

icicles hanging from rock

Found these large icicles, the longest is about 12 inches long. After hiking for about an hour and fifteen minutes, I decided to head back to the house for hot chocolate!

Cutting Boards

Rich Colors of Autumn

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The beautiful rich colors of autumn are here and wow, what a show!!! They are so beautiful this year!! Check out the difference, same view from our deck about a week apart.

mountain view trees with green colors

The above picture was taken on Saturday, October 26, 2013. This is the view from our deck looking SouthEast.

fall leaf color

Same view, picture was taken on Monday, November 4th. Be sure to click the picture above to see all the beautiful colors!!!!

The Autumn Colors have arrived and are at their peak on the mountain! What a beautiful site, all the fire engine red, orange and yellow colors. It won’t last long and they will be all gone.

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Acorns, Hickory Nuts & Walnuts

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Brrrrrrr……. The temperature this morning was 28 degrees and the wind was howling all night. It won’t be long and we will need the wool blankets and hot chocolate! The Autumn Colors are later thas year than normal.

mountain view trees with green colors

View from our deck

This picture was taken today, Saturday, October 26th from our deck. As you can see not much change in the leaves just yet but I can tell you the leaves have started falling. With the cold nights that are forecast the leaves will be at peak in about two weeks. I am hoping for the beautiful rich colors of autumn, shades of yellow, red, and orange.

red oak acorns

Red Oak Tree Acorns

Acorns, hickory nuts and walnuts are falling, the squirrels and turkey are feasting on all the acorns and hickory nuts.

hickory tree nuts

Hickory Tree Nuts

Looks like the squirrels have been eating the hickory nuts, the green one has squirrel teeth marks.

walnuts on ground

Black Walnuts

The Black Walnuts are starting to fall and the hulls are turning black. It’s almost time to start gathering up the walnuts!

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Small Waterfalls

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 mountain waterfall

I have read many articles about a cave on our mountain that was used during the revolutionary war and a revolutionary war grave site. I have made many hikes across the mountain in my attempt to find both of these. This time I decided to hike across the Southside of the mountain about one-third down from the top. Since there are no trails I had to use my compass to stay on track. My hike was about 2 miles round trip in some really rough terrain and dense trees.

south carolina waterfall

After hiking for about 35 minutes I found myself in a huge ravine that impossible to get across so I followed it down the mountain hoping to find a away across. Then I found a large spring, water was bubbling out of the ground everywhere. As I continued to walk down the ravine there were numerous springs that had formed a good size creek. I continued to follow the creek and before I knew it I could hear water falling. It got louder as I got closer and finally I could see there were two waterfalls.

waterfalls

It appeared many, many years ago someone had built a wall with a 10 foot long channel that pooled the water that then lead to the first fall. The water from a creek like this was often used many years ago to make moonshine. This water is very cold and crystal clear. I climbed down to see the waterfall and below the fall was another small pool of water with another small waterfall.

waterfall on paris mountain

The waterfalls are on the South side of the mountain, I checked my compass and the falls are facing exactly 180 degrees south.

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High on Siler Bald

High on Siler Bald

Hello everyone. I am getting a late start on writing since my last post. With this post I am starting a new Hiking category. All my life I have hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) and other trails throughout South Carolina, North Carolina Georgia and Tennessee. I love hiking to waterfalls and the more remote the better. Most of these have been day trips but a good many were over night stays. Today, I wanted to blog about one of my over night hikes to Siler Bald.

Siler Bald trail covered with snow

Siler Bald trail covered with snow

Siler Bald trail snow on trees

Siler Bald trail snow on trees

Siler Bald trail trees covered in snow

Siler Bald Trail with trees covered in snow

 

Back in January this year, a good friend and I had planned to hike the Mt. Le Conte trail n Tennessee and sleep over on the Appalachian Trail shelter at the summit. The day before our hike there was extremely bad winter weather on Mt. Le Conte. When I called the ranger station and asked about the weather they told me the trail was closed due to heavy snowfall. The Mt. Le Conte trail is a difficult trail and can be dangerous with all the snow. It is one of the absolutely most beautiful hikes you could do in Tennessee. If you have not hiked this trail you should check it out. We changed our plans and decided to hike Siler Bald from Hwy 64 just outside of Franklin, NC. This would normally be an in and out day hike but we decided to start late in the day and planned to sleep in the AT shelter. When talking to the ranger we were told that no one else had reserved the shelter so we didn’t expect anyone else to be there.

sunset---siler-bald

I have a Kelty Red Wing 50 back that I use for day and one night hikes. I packed light but I was still carrying nearly 40 lbs. The 40 lbs included, gloves, trekking pole, Cat’s Meow sleeping bag, ThermaRest pad, Alaska bear repellent, my Ruger 380, 2 water bottles, Katadyn water bottle with filter, one bottle of Gatorade, compass, matches, Yaktrax for my boots in case we had ice on the trail, GSI Snow Peak stove with fuel, freeze dried food, tea bags, a few pieces of candy, granola bar and crackers. Be sure to bring a trekking pole you will need it.

The Hike

Siler Bald is one of my favorite hikes; it is a really beautiful spot. This is a moderate to difficult hike but you will soon be rewarded when you reach the summit. Siler Bald is accessible from two different routes. We chose to start our hike at the trail head on Hwy 64 parking area. It was cold and snowing with temperatures around 22 degrees. The AT crosses Hwy 64 at this parking area. We started hiking the Winding Stair Gap Trail along the AT for Siler Bald with it snowing heavily. This is a 4.3 mile hike, nearly 9 miles round trip with an elevation change of about 1500 feet. The summit elevation is 5,216 feet.  The most difficult part of the trail is the final ascend to the summit.

Siler Bald snow on trail to summit

Siler Bald snow on trail to summit

Along the trail we saw a few rabbits and also spotted deer, raccoon, bob cat and bear tracks. This area is loaded with wildlife. Bears are very common in this area.

Me on AT trail to Siler Bald

Me on AT trail to Siler Bald

 

On The Summit

As we reached the final stretch to the summit, the snow had stopped but the wind was blowing. I realized that the clouds had lifted, the sun was out and the sky was clearing. When we reached the summit it was pretty chilly. I have a temperature gauge that hangs from my back pack and it registered 20 degrees. It was colder than that with the wind chill so we decided to fix a cup of tea and have a snack before hiking to the shelter.

Siler Bald summit elevation marker

Siler Bald summit elevation marker.

Siler Bald summit 360 view of snow capped mountains

Siler Bald summit 360 view of snow capped mountains

Siler Bald summit 360 view of mountains

Siler Bald summit 360 view of mountains

Hike to the Shelter

The shelter is on a loop off of the main trail and is about a mile hike from the summit. We arrived at the shelter and immediately started gathering as much fire wood as we could before dark. With all the snow we had a hard time finding dry wood. We soon got a nice fire going and before we knew it was time to cook supper. Temperatures during the night reached 9 degrees. We had a couple of raccoons visit the shelter looking for food but we had tied our packs up high enough that they could not reach them. The next morning we fired up our stoves, ate breakfast and started back down the mountain.

This is a great hike, be sure to bring your camera for some great shots at the summit!

Please leave comments, especially if you have hiked this trail and if you have not, you  need to, it’s a great hike!!

Michael