Panthertown January 9, 2012Posted by Jenny in hiking, Southern Appalachians.
Tags: Big Green Mountain, Frolictown, Lake Toxaway, Little Green Mountain, Panthertown
Three friends and I visited Panthertown to take advantage of a brief window of good weather between a cold snap and a rainy spell. And what a day it was for January, up into the 50s—but ice remained in many places from the week’s earlier weather.
Chris and Bethann and I were lucky to be joined by Seth, who is quite familiar with Panthertown—not to mention that the map he carried is the only good one of the area. I had printed a map off the internet that, as Seth put it, “you can’t read at all.” Oh well, details, details! And you really do need a good map to navigate all the unmarked manways, unless you enjoy a “trial and error” approach to route-finding.
Starting at the Cold Mountain Gap trailhead, we first went to Greenland Falls, which looked as icy as its namesake.
We had fun trying to decide which of the ice below the falls was safe to walk on. We went mainly by the different sound effects that the ice made when we stepped on it (which fortunately were not augmented at any point by the sound effects of a human being suddenly finding him- or herself neck-deep in frigid water).
Then on to the top of Big Green Mountain we climbed.
The only blemish on the horizon was the sight of a few giant McMansions perched on hilltops on the surrounding private property. All four of us had the same reaction: “Blow them up!” The shores of Lake Toxaway are ringed by pretentious gated developments. Perhaps a little tinkering with the dam would leave the whole stupid neighborhood on the shores of a gigantic mud hole.
We visited a shelter with an unusual A-frame construction.
Thus far we had avoided doing any wading, either by finding stepping stones or linking together strategically placed rhodo branches, but at this crossing we were finally forced to take our boots off. Bethann emitted cries of horror as her feet made contact with the cold water, whereas Chris crossed maintaining a manly silence.
Our next destination was a place intriguingly labeled as Frolictown. Perhaps panthers used to frolic there?
On to Wilderness Falls, which is a little bit hard to see from the bottom. A thin ribbon of water comes down from the very top.
We had good views of the main Panthertown valley.
We climbed Little Green Mountain. There is an interesting shadowy gulch to the left of the smooth granite ledge. From the top of it, we could see it might make a fun scrambling route.
Our final objective was Schoolhouse Falls. Its setting, widening out into a beautiful tranquil pond, gives it an idyllic appearance, almost like an image from a dream.
And so, with a final climb back up to the cars at Cold Mountain Gap, we concluded a lovely day’s outing.