Friday, June 12, 2015

June 12 – Sharp Top And Fallingwater Cascade

Yesterday we moved farther north and east to the national park campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Peaks of Otter.


Although this campground is convenient to the hikes I wanted to do, we probably should have stayed somewhere else. There are no hookups, no sun for the solar panels, no cell service and the sites are pretty rough and not very level.The one we are in is about the only one I would even consider using and it has a huge dip so that the hitch on the rear is just about touching the ground.

But all this is not the main reason. The road in off of I-81 was the real problem. Right off the bat it said that large RV’s and trailer were not recommended. It was narrow and steep with a lot of very sharp hairpins. One was so steeply banked and tight that I scraped the hitch as we went around. Even better, just at the start, a tractor trailer was hauling a double wide park model mobile home down the road coming at us. We were lucky it happened at one of the few spots that we could both squeeze over enough to get by. Anywhere else and one of us would have been backing up.

My GPS wants us to go back out that way to get to our next campground but I am going to have to find some other way.


The campground is built on a hill so even our picnic table is a climb.


The site across from us is even worse.


It is not a very busy place. Last night there may have been 10 sites in use out of around 100.

The Peaks of Otter Lodge is just down the road and they very conveniently offer free WIFI so we have been trouping over there to sit in the parking lot to retrieve emails and the weather reports.

The high yesterday was in the low 30Cs and the low last night was around 22C. It is also very humid so without the air conditioners it was not a great night for sleep.

When I was booking the trip I had hoped that it would not yet be too hot in early June so we could go with a no hookup campground. All our campgrounds from now on have, at least, electricity.

Today we started by going to the top of Sharp Top Mountain. Our campground is at the mountain’s base. The hike to the top climbs 1300 feet in 1.5 miles but there is another option. They run a shuttle bus that can take you very close to the top. Since I planned to do another hike today and the hike up would do us in, we bought $6 one way tickets to the top and then hiked down.


It takes about 15 minutes to drive up because the road it very steep and narrow. I am glad I wasn’t driving.

After you get off the bus it is a 1500 foot hike to the very top. I think some of the older people that were doing the round trip on the bus were surprised at how steep and hard that short trail was.

The red is the bus ride, the blue is the hike.




Almost there. The top of the mountain is covered in huge boulders. You can see someone’s head at the lookout top right..



They somehow found a spot among the rocks for this cabin.


They have built some intricate paths, walls and viewpoints around the boulders.







The Peaks of Otter Lodge is on the lake below.




Looking the other way we could see our next destination. It is the jumble of rocks, called The Buzzard’s Roost, bursting out of the peak below us, right a bit in on the right below.



I will soon be where this person is standing.


The trail to the bottom first quickly drops about 300 vertical feet and then we head out on the ridge towards the Buzzard’s Roost.




We saw a balanced rock that looked like a pug nosed face.


As Jennie was walking by a tree, a bird flew up almost into her face. Its nest was practically hanging over the trail at chest height.


I guess everyone is very careful.


From my perch on the roost I could see back to the top of Sharp Top. It is a very conical mountain, especially seen from the other side.


I wonder if this is the same guy and we have exchanged positions.


Jennie was not too thrilled about climbing on these rocks. There were no nice paths. She poked her head around the corner to get this shot.



She had to scramble up to our lunch spot to find some shade.





The trail the rest of the way down was fairly wide and smooth but we still had to drop 1000 feet in elevation so it had a definite slope.


There were a few rough spots.


We saw this interesting log with its own garden.



When we started up the mountain I had looked at the sky and said that there is no way we will need the rain gear. Need I say more. With more than a mile to go I looked across the valley and said “You know, I think it is raining over there”. We went from bright sunny skies to a raging downpour in about 3 minutes. Thankfully we had the cover for the backpack so none of the cameras got wet but we sure did. And as luck would have it, just as we emerged from the trees into the parking lot, the rain stopped.

We had bundled up so quickly that I forgot to get the waterproof camera out of the knapsack and once the rain was really going I didn’t want to open it up.

We were thoroughly soaked but it wasn’t really that bad. The rain was rather warm and we were sheltered from most of the downpour by the trees.


Thankfully we were very close to the RV and a change of clothes. As soon as we got inside the sun was back out.

We dried out and had a short rest but it was only 1:30 so we decided to try the other hike I had planned to do today.

The trail to the Fallingwater Cascade is a 1.6 mile loop that drops over 400 vertical feet..


There were a few nice steps.


But mostly it was steep rock steps.


There as a side trail partway down the falls.


From here you could see the top of the falls which unfortunately you couldn’t see from the bottom. It was too rough and high for Jennie to come out here.

By now we were also back to grey skies that threatened more rain.



We also had changed into colours that don;t show up very well. Brown for me and black for Jennie. I am near the top in the picture below.


And Jennie is just about center, below.



The trail followed the stream further downhill.



Just as the trail started up hill, the rain started.



Since we now had our rain gear, the rain stopped as soon as we were suited up.

The trail uphill was wide and even but the unrelenting grade and the humidity took its toll on us. Jennie waited at the Flat Top Overlook parking while I closed the final bit of the loop to get the car.

When we were over at the Lodge we noticed that they had a buffet dinner on Friday nights. We headed back to the RV to clean up and have a rest before heading over. The buffet food was very good. They also offer some crab legs for an extra charge. Jennie had a craving so we ordered them as well. They were OK but not worth the extra price. As usual we rolled home, stuffed.

1 comment:

  1. Love that rustic camp site and the garden in the tree stump!!! Quite the hike!!!