Sunday, June 26, 2022

Off to a Good Start and Then . . .

June 13-18, 2022                                                              Most Recent Posts:
Riverbend RV Park                                                      Finally Back On the Road
Lake Toxaway, North Caroling         Happy 6th Celia & Trying to Leave Town

I am happy to finally be exploring  the area around the campground.  The county itself has 250 waterfalls,   Even though many of them are on private lands, there should be plenty to keep me busy.

My first trip out is to Gorges State Park which is only 6 miles away and where I learned I was clearly in for a lot of rain.

At the visitor center I learned from a very creative exhibit that the park has an average of 91” of annual rainfall as compared with 46” in Raleigh, the state capital, 43” in Charlotte, the largest city and 37” in Ashville only 54 miles away.

I also saw the rainfall totals for this area over the last 10 years.  They didn’t have totals for June yet but they’ve had about 45” of rain through May

The visitor center has a delightful place to relax in rocking chairs overlooking mountains in the distance but I was anxious to finally get out and do some hiking.

I would recommend the visitor center as a great stop for information about this newest and western most state park which is adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest and provides access to some of its falls I’ve come to see today.

Although I didn’t take any pictures of the new campground under construction, it appears the designated RV sites have been done with some care to provide what looks like level concrete pads and electric.  Sites in the campground vary widely in their amenities and the RV sites are limited in number.  Also be aware that the roads within the campground and to get to it, are, like many roads around Transylvania County including the roads to Riverbend RV park, very steep and winding.  Check your brakes and make sure you know how to drive in the mountains before coming.  Even so you may find yourself as I did with white knuckles.

The park provides access to three waterfalls and they are my first hiking destinations of this trip.  The largest of these is Rainbow Falls.


Once the trail moves into Pisgah National Forest land it runs beside the Horse Pasture River which is visible at spots along the way.


A set of steps leads to the carefully protected view of the falls.


I have no idea how you’d get to the base.  None of the information I had said anything about it.



If you’d like to hear the falls and see it in action, here is a short videoWish I’d gotten more of the downstream falls which can be seen in the picture below although the view of them is restricted.


I caught only a little bit of the rainbow that gives the falls its name.  I thought by coming in the earlier morning I might see a larger one.  Guess I’ll have to come again.


I walked on along the trail which was rougher and not as developed at this point.  I wasn’t sure I was going to find a second falls until I found another set of steps.



Turtleback Falls named for obvious reasons.

I could get much closer to these falls and see down stream easily.  I’m sure people get into the pool below the falls on a very hot day.

The rhododendron around Turtle Back was lovely. 


All my pictures of Turtle Back were taken from the side as it was the best and closest vantage point.  The only straight forward shot I could get was through the foliage.  But I liked it so I’m including it.   Here is another very short video, as in 10 seconds,  this one of Turtle Back Falls.


I had missed the 3rd falls on my way up to Rainbow but I found it on the way down.  It’s very small but has sitting spots which neither of the others do and I’m sure is a very popular spot for swimming later in the day when it warms up as the water is quite cold.    It’s aptly named Hidden Falls.



The rhododendron around Hidden Falls were even more plentiful and of a darker pink.


I wish I had a hiking partner to take these selfies with.


Two days later some wonderful people from Louisiana, Pat and Gayle, asked me to join them on a hike up Whiteside Mountain.  They have been coming to Riverbend for many years and have hiked nearly every trail around several times so I jumped at the chance to accompany them. 

The trail can be a loop and they advised from experience that we take the mostly stairs trail up and the gravel service road down.  Not sure why the only pictures I have of the trail up don’t include any stairs.

They told me this was one of their favorite hikes and they’d done it many times.  Once when they got “up top” they couldn’t see a thing it was totally fogged in.  Other times it was clear as a bell.  Today seemed to be somewhere in between. Hazy but still the view was grand.  I’d like to come again if time permits and see if I can catch a crystal clear day.


My gracious hosts.


On the way up I spotted these lovely Fire Pinks


They are smoky  mountains.


The longer we stayed the hazier it got.



The next morning I set out for School House Falls in the Nantahala National Forest.  More than 50% of the county is covered with National Forests and thus so much fantastic hiking. 

I took the path behind the kiosk which said I was in Panthertown Valley.  I wish Panthers (mountain lions) still lived here but sadly they do not.  I then crossed the wooden bridge and hiked up the old  logging road. 


I was happy to see wildflowers along the way.


A  joy along the narrowing road was a blooming Flame Azalea.


And then I came to the falls and I was the only one there the entire time I stayed which was at least 30 minutes, perhaps more.


You can see the lovely pink mountain laurel left of the School House Falls.


I sat and drank in the beauty and the sound for some time.  I’d read that you could walk behind the falls.  I thought about it and decided I wanted to see if I could.   Now how to get back there.

Because I had my hiking pole I was able to balance my way along this narrow lane of rocks to the edge of the waterfall pool.


But when I got on the other side there was nothing even remotely resembling a path. 


I climbed my way through it to this vantage point and hoped I could walk under and return on the other side since coming this way had been pretty precarious.

I took this short video (click link to view) from here before walking behind on the slick wet rocks.  Thank goodness for Vasque hiking boots and a hiking pole. 


It was fantastic being behind the waterfall.  So cool both temperature and otherwise.



Out the other side.

The falls look quite different in these  two pictures.


Back on the rock bed in front of the falls I set up a rather dark selfie and then left before anyone else came.   What a great morning.


The next morning was a different story.

I returned to the Trailhead for Rainbow Falls in Gorges State Park and took the other trail to Raymond Fisher Pond.

The hike was very nice.


The pond was very nice


IMG_0692The area had formerly been what must have been a wonderful  pack in area for back backers There were several apparently very nice tent sites with wood platforms, picnic tables and fire rings.

The park had changed the area to no camping, torn up the campsites and left all the pieces in a mess.  I’d like to find out the story behind this.   So far it has been my only disappointment at Gorges State Park.  This was not very nice.


I took an “I was here” selfie and headed back to Ruby.


Now for the “and then. . . .”

The Raymond Fisher Trail is only a 1.5 mile out and back trail so I had planned to also hike the final trail in Gorges which required me to drive back to the Visitor Center and park to reach the trail head.

I hopped in Ruby, turned the key and she cranked and cranked and cranked and would not start.   I did this several times.  I got out, put the hood up as if I might be able to figure this out.  SURE!  I had just bought a new battery as you know.  The day before I had filled up with gas.  I hadn’t a clue and was totally bummed at the thought of Ruby’s first tow trip within 2 weeks of Winnona’s and what would happen to my insurance premium as a result of all of this.

I guess Chris took pity on the old woman and came over to ask if he could help.  He tested the battery, tried starting it himself and then called over his friend Brad.  Together they pushed me back out of my spot so I could roll down the parking lot slope and pop the clutch.  I was in business.  This is a big reason I have always owned a standard transmission car.  Winnona is my only automatic ever.  I left Ruby running while I stopped to thank the boys and get this picture of my heroes.  Chris is on the right.

And now what?   Well this post is long enough so it’s going to be a cliff hanger.


  1. uh, oh....I was loving your post about all the hiking and waterfalls, hope it's not too bad with Ruby...What next???!!!!

    1. for some reason, my name isn't showing, but it's Jeannie Anonymous. LOL....

    2. Love your new name! What next is just what I'm beginning to wonder every day.

  2. Aaaargh! I'm with Jeannie, such beautiful waterfalls to end with yet another sad story. I love waterfalls that have the trail behind them. Makes for interesting pictures!

    1. I'm glad you liked them Laurie. Thanks for letting me know. Hope the videos worked OK.

  3. Oh. Hard to imagine so much water as I am living in TX in an exceptionally hot and dry last couple of months, and summer has just officially started. Glad you had some heroes to the rescue. Vehicles - argh.

    1. Oh my Texas in the summer. I hope it doesn't get too hot. It's been in the 90's in Virginia in June. Very unusual. Unfortunately all my vehicles are old and have aches and pains like me.

  4. Oh my goodness. I haven't had a clutch in a thousand years but your sure brought back memories of poppoing that clutch and always parking on a hill so I could do it! Such a pain. Hope it is ok. Pretty sure if it wasn't really ok you wouldn't have left us hanging. Those rainfall numbers are as much as much of the rainy part of the Oregon Coast! No thanks. Love me some rain but not that much. But as you no doubt remember from your trips west, no rain, no falls, fewer flowers, and definitely not as green. Always a trade off it seems.When I first started gardening back in the late 70's or so, I always wanted to have mountain laurel. I didn't realize that it is basically an east coast thing and wouldn't be very happy in our western climate. So very pretty.

    1. I wouldn't trade my clutch for anything. LOL! This area is like a tropical forest. Beautiful but wet! I love this time of year here because of the rhododendron and mountain laurel.

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you Flowergirl. I'm very glad you liked them. Unfortunately no bears. They are here but keep away from people mostly unless some have been stupid enough to feed them and they lose their fear. I saw many in Shenandoah National Park but none here so far.

  6. All of those hikes look wonderfully familiar. :-) But lucky you to have rhododendrons and flame azaleas blooming, which makes the hikes even better! We hiked the trails in Gorges several times last summer and never tired of them. They were not allowing camping in the Raymond Fisher area, so maybe that's why they're taking out the platforms this year? I'm not sure why they stopped allowing camping there, though. It will be interesting to see the new campground when they get it finished. So glad you made it to Schoolhouse Falls! You got great photos.

    1. So glad to be here for the early summer flowers. Doesn't look like they are taking out the platforms. There are just piles of broken everything. I don't understand it. Did you go behind Schoolhouse? That was so much fun!

  7. Lovely photos! I can't even begin to imagine 45" of rain. I'm in the desert and we've had 1" this year (and hoping for more). So glad you're able to get out and see all of that beautiful state!

    1. How wonderful to see you in the comments Amy! I can't imagine 1" of rain. I am so addicted to green and deciduous trees. Hope you enjoyed the waterfall videos. Come on up and visit and see them in person.

  8. Those waterfalls are mesmerizing! I think I like the Turtleback one best- love that huge smooth rock. I could listen to the falls all night long. The pictures behind the falls are fantastic! Water is just the best- so peaceful and relaxing to see and hear. I was looking in the shallow water at the river rocks. Those are my favorite to collect. I have them all around my rock garden. When you mentioned slippery rocks, I remember taking Willie to Sugar Hollow after a big storm and getting stuck in a spot where I would have had to walk across a cliff of slippery rocks with rushing water or climb up a very steep hill in mud. I chose the mud. Keep having fun! xxxooo

    1. Thanks Pam. I'm with you all the way about waterfalls.
      Can't get enough of them. I also cannot figure out why my blog put you in as anonymous.

  9. OK, I'm going to believe the car problem is taken care of. Because you HAVE to get out to more waterfalls and hike! I especially love to see the Rhodies. And all that water. Almost seems impossible sitting here in AZ. I liked Hidden falls best, and would have hidden there for hours, or at least until somebody else showed up.

  10. That's just what I do Gaelyn, I get on the trail earlier than most people get up and stay until somebody shows up.

  11. Replies
    1. They sure are William and SO many of them.

  12. Beautiful falls - so glad you made it to the back of Schoolhouse! I could almost feel the cool air through the falling water. Wonderful to have hiking partners who know the area so well to share the experience. Gorgeous azaleas, lucky you to find them growing wild. Glad you had both heroes and a clutch to pop (although I've been done with manual trannies for decades!). At least it did start, so hoping for battery or starter motor, and that you've already resolved it.

    1. Thanks Jodee. Being the falls was FAN tastic!! And the orange flame azaleas a treat. Lucky me to be here now.

  13. Beautiful falls and flowers!! Love listening to the videos. So glad the boys were there to help get Ruby going again. She is getting older trusty old soul. I hope the what's next is resolved by now! Love you!

    1. Love you too sweetheart. Thanks for being such a consistent commenter. You are the best!

  14. So glad there were some knights errant around to help get Ruby going again. It looks like a beautiful area and the waterfalls are great, especially Schoolhouse. I love it when you can get behind the waterfall!

    1. That's it exactly Michele, knights errant. Perfect! It was so good of Chris to want to help me. He was with group of at least 4 others and could easily have just driven off.

  15. A waterfall is such a gorgeous sight! Makes you forget all the little things.

    1. It does Judilyn. I wish you could join me to hike to them. They are so restorative.

  16. Love the waterfall pictures... Not many of those in this dry state of Texas... Walking through those forests to the waterfalls looks like a heap of fun.... pretty flowers... cool looking.. I always loved standard transmission vehicles until I moved to the stop and go traffic near Washington D.C. and gave in to an automatic. Always felt like I had more control with Standard Transmission and a clutch...

    1. The dryness is why I fear I could never live in the Southwest. I agree with you about having more control over a standard transmission vehicle. Winona is the only automatic I have ever owned.

  17. I am reading in reverse, so I already know what happened to the car. I am sorry you had car trouble. I had some myself on July 4th on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Two good Samaritans spent 90 minutes carrying us around trying to find oil. I was SO thankful. Love the picture taken behind the waterfall. That is exquisite.


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