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Panthertown backpack July 3, 2014

Posted by Jenny in camping, hiking, Nantahala National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Southern Appalachians.
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Pothole Falls.

Pothole Falls.

Last weekend I went backpacking in Panthertown with my new friends Dana and Cathy. The plan was to meet Friday morning, camp two nights, and come out Sunday. We had no set itinerary—just the desire to wander about ethereal realms of granite plutons and splendid waterfalls. Plus, Dana had a really good tip about a beautiful place to camp, not far from the Cold Mountain Road entrance.

Panthertown is located south of Sylva NC and west of Brevard NC. It is considered to be partly in Nantahala National Forest and partly in Pisgah NF.

As it turned out, we got rained on pretty hard a few hours after we arrived. In some ways that was bad luck, but in one way it was nice—we got to see some of the waterfalls foaming and roaring from the heavy rainfall. I opted to leave Saturday morning because I had aggravated a chronic hip flexor problem two days earlier on a bushwhack up Cole Creek and it was really bothering me. Dana and Cathy opted to leave Saturday evening because everything was so wet and dirty by that point that it made sense to go home and dry off.

We started by going up the Mac’s Gap Trail to the Greenland Creek Trail and turning northwest to go along a pretty rough pathway to see a couple of falls. There were lots of roots and rocks and steep little climbs, but that’s what Panthertown is all about. First we came to Mac’s Falls.

It was jungly along the edge of the stream.

It was jungly along the edge of the stream.

Mac's Falls from downstream. Peaceful.

Mac’s Falls from downstream. Peaceful.

A little further along we came to Pothole Falls.

Pothole Falls.

Pothole Falls.

We headed back upstream and located the camping spot Dana had heard about. It was just perfect, carpeted with pine needles and right beside the amber waters of Greenland Creek. There was even a tiny beach area with very fine grains of sand.

The only problem was that at this point it was pouring—just as we were trying to set up our tents. I was in such a hurry to get my tent up that when I yanked it out of its stuff sack, the little bag with the tent pegs went flying into the brush and I didn’t even see it go. Then, when I couldn’t find the pegs, I figured I’d left them behind the last time I used the tent. Dana and Cathy had extras which they kindly loaned me. Dana spotted the little bag when they broke camp.

After we got things set up, the rain tapered off and we explored the three falls upstream from there. First was Greenland Creek Falls.

Beautiful the way the Panthertown falls are all fringed with luxuriant green.

Beautiful the way the Panthertown falls are all fringed with luxuriant green.

The water was churning and foaming from the rain. To me, it had a strangely industrial sound, as if subterranean machinery was busily at work. I remember saying to the others, “It sounds like a machine,” but I couldn’t quite explain what I meant.

The fogging on my lens got worse as I went along. Well, at least it gives you a feel for how damp things were.

Raging waters.

Raging waters.

Patterns of foam below Halfway Falls.

Patterns of foam below Halfway Falls.

This rhodo blossom wanted to be admired.

This rhodo blossom wanted to be admired.

We came to the uppermost of the falls, Carlton’s Falls.

Contrast between white foam and dark amber pool.

Contrast between white foam and dark amber pool.

I took a picture of Dana and Cathy. Unfortunately, the fogged-up lens turned Cathy into a ghost.

Dana and Cathy with fog on the lens.

Dana and Cathy with fog on the lens.

We returned to camp and had supper. Afterward, I wandered up and down Greenland Creek a short distance and gazed at the beautiful stream.

There is no other place quite like Panthertown.

Carlton's Falls.

Carlton’s Falls.

 

Now’s your chance with Nantahala – Pisgah forest plans January 25, 2013

Posted by Jenny in conservation, Nantahala National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, Southern Appalachians, Wilderness Society.
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Bartram Falls, Ledbetter Creek, near Cheoah Bald

Bartram Falls, Ledbetter Creek, near Cheoah Bald

The US Forest Service is preparing to modify the management plans for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Now is the opportunity for people who care about these places to make themselves heard.

The Forest Service has scheduled meetings in February and March for the six ranger districts. (See bottom of this post for details.) Members of the public are invited to attend to find out how revisions will be made to plans that will affect western NC forests for a full 15 years.

Followers of this blog have seen posts about places in the two national forests designated as “Mountain Treasures” by the Wilderness Society. I’ve blogged about seven of these; there are 41 in all, and I intend to visit most of them—all of them if I can. These Mountain Treasures are particular spots for which the Wilderness Society plans to try for higher levels of protection from threats such as logging and road-building. The highest protection would be afforded through wilderness designation, but other means exist, such as having certain places listed as official Research Natural Areas, Scenic Areas, Botanical Areas, Historical Areas, and so on. Roadless areas are another important designation.

I went to a meeting last night in Franklin that was attended by representatives of the Wilderness Society, the Nantahala Hiking Club, and others. It was interesting for me to learn a bit about how these plan revisions are done. Some of the people there were recently involved in the same process with George Washington National Forest in Virginia. Dealing with the bureaucratic intricacies is a full-time art in itself, and it takes both dedication and, at times, a sense of humor. I learned that “roadless” areas sometimes have a few roads, that “early succession” is a stage in forest progression oddly beloved by the timber industry and hunters of the ruffed grouse, and that “old growth forests” can be planned for the future . . . hmmm!

It takes training, patience, and nerves of steel to keep after one’s goals in this bureaucratic fog, playing the game, bringing good science to bear, dealing diplomatically with people who have opposed interests, and trying for a reasonable consensus. But you don’t have to be an expert to participate. Your voice can still be heard, and you can join the efforts of a local conservation group to add clout to that voice.

As I told the meeting, one subject that strikes a nerve with me is ATV use in the forests. As it stands, there are a few small “sacrifice” areas in these two forests where ATVs are permitted, and I hope the acreage will never be expanded. Unfortunately, the problem goes beyond management to enforcement. While illegal ATV use is not so common in Nantahala, I have seen areas in the Bald Mountains in Pisgah where ATVs were running roughshod over the trails and even on the AT.

Here are the six meetings scheduled for the ranger districts of the two forests. All will run from 6 to 9:

  • Cheoah: Feb. 21 at Graham County Community Center, Robbinsville;
  • Appalachian: Feb. 25 at Mars Hill College, Broyhill Chapel, Mars Hill;
  • Tusquitee: March 4 at First Baptist Church, Murphy;
  • Grandfather: March 12, McDowell Technical Community College, Rm. 113, Marion;
  • Pisgah: March 18, Transylvania County Library, Brevard;
  • Nantahala: March 19, Tartan Hall, Franklin.

Consider the value of these places, and take action.

View from Huckleberry Knob

View from Huckleberry Knob

View from Teyahalee Bald

View from Teyahalee Bald

Snowbird Creek

Snowbird Creek

Big trees at Joyce Kilmer

Big trees at Joyce Kilmer

Looking across the Fires Creek basin

Looking across the Fires Creek basin

Azalea near Cantrell Top, Unicoi Mountains

Azalea near Cantrell Top, Unicoi Mountains