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Just before I stuck my head in the falls behind me (365:148)

Just before I stuck my head in the falls behind me (365:148). Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

Invigorating was one word for it.

I don’t have a picture taken after my encounter with the falls; I am trying to be a bit more careful with the camera around water nowadays. Especially as we currently only have one working camera between us.

Despite our best efforts we lazed around over our morning coffee and breakfast and didn’t get going until gone ten.

Our efforts to lighten our packs have paid off. Ginger’s weighed in at 27lbs and mine at 29lbs both including food and water. We took Pole Hollow trail down to Long Creek. The trail started easily enough in glades, but the lower end was very dense with vegetation and some fallen trees were blocking the trail. The trail, in common with most of the trails we walked (with the exception of the popular long creek trail) didn’t appear to have been walked much recently. Away from Long Creek, the trails seemed almost deserted, we saw four people on horseback on our first day and that was it.

We both picked up loads of ticks along the way. This set the scene for the entire trip. We lost count of the number of ticks we removed, both attached and running free. There were small seed ticks, deer ticks, and the aptly named lone star ticks. Deet didn’t seem to discourage them much. We were both wearing shorts which at least made it easy to spot the darned things before they could go too far.

Poison ivy was also prevalent along the trails, mainly in forested areas in patches where the cover had been cleared. Hiking in bare feet and shorts I worked on honing my poison ivy spotting skills. Though primarily I avoid contact with any triple leaved green thing. I must be doing something right as over the weekend we bushwhacked a fair way, and encountered a lot of poison ivy, and I didn’t get afflicted by it.

The lower end of Pole Hollow Trail has moved a few hundred yards to the west of the route shown on the trailhead maps.

Once on Long Creek Trail, we headed west to the falls. About a mile from the falls we spotted a campsite just off the trail, which we noted for future use, knowing that the falls area is very popular and tends to get more than a bit gross. With all the recent rain Long creek was running well and has to be crossed several times. With all the new growth in some places it was quite tricky to spot where the trail picked up on the opposite side of the creek. At the falls both campsites at the falls were occupied, our plan was only to stop for lunch so we sat out by the falls which were running quite well. I used the wood burner to boil water for lunch (slow but successful) and took advantage of the deeper pools to bathe. Gosh, it was cold! And that was where today’s picture was taken.

We filled up with a massive (and heavy at over 12lbs) 6 liters of water as we were headed North behind the Upper and Lower Pilot knobs for the night and we weren’t sure if we’d find water there.

After lunch we rearranged our packs so I wasn’t carrying too much weight, headed back along Long Creek Trail and then up Cedar Trail, which was quite rocky going, the recent rain has cleared out any loose material on the trail. It was a nice hike uphill through a fairly densely wooded area. Once back up on Pilot trail we headed West, finally camping well off-trail to the North near the junction with West Devils Den trail.

After dinner, I tried using the wood burner as a campfire with mixed results. We decided not to set the fly, spending the night under the open sky.   

Today’s alternate shots & extras

Gary boiling water for lunch on the wood burner
Cairn at North end of Pole Hollow trail - Hercules Glades
13 year periodic cicada
Ginger Crossing Long Creek - Hercules Glades
Creek crossing, Long Creek, Hercules Glades
Rock shelf by a creek crossing on Long Creek, Hercules Glades
Typical Hercules Glades trail
Long Creek falls, Hercules Glades
Ginger filtering water at Long Creek falls

Copyright © 2011 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.