Monday, April 12, 2010

Raven Cliffs Falls

Me and the girls have done all kinds of cool stuff lately, but it's had been a little while since we just went for a walk in the woods. I've been meaning to get up to Raven Cliffs ever since my buddy Andrew came back from there last year with awesome photos and indications that they didn't even do it justice. Today was the day.

The trail head was nicely furnished and almost every parking spot was taken.

 Raven Cliffs Falls Trailhead

The trail itself was pretty nice too.

 Raven Cliffs Falls Trail 1

Sophie's been asking me a lot about navigation lately. Odd questions from a 7 year old, I know, but she has been. So we've been looking at maps and I've been teaching her this and that. The Raven Cliffs Falls trail is an out and back along a creek, but the very beginning is tricky. The map shows it coming in from the highway, but we were actually parked off of FS244 and there's a little connector trail leading to the one shown on the map on the opposite side of the creek. We sat down at the trailhead and discussed all of this. Both of the girls appeared to understand and when we got going, Sophie kept looking for the creek crossing and when we got to it she was all "Ok daddy, we're on the dotted line now." Unfortunately that was about all the navigating we could do today. The surrounding mountains were obscured by themselves and relatively featureless. There was no good way to tell exactly where we were except by keeping track of how far we'd gone, which I'm not very good at :)

No matter though.

We passed a group of campers on their way out and one of the ladies told us there was a heart formation in a tree up ahead. Indeed there was.


An old roadbed which wound back and forth across the creek. For the most part, the trail followed it, but here and there the road had been converted into campsites, had become overgrown, or had become obliterated by the meandering creek, and in those locations the trail diverged and eventually rejoined, sometimes up over crazy roots or rocks.

 Raven Cliffs Falls Trail 2

In some places the trail had eaten down into the road and the the original grade was visible several feet above, to the side. But, judging by the number of people we saw out there, it was incredibly popular, super hard packed and even in those locations, appeared to have become pretty durable.

And there were waterfalls everywhere.

 Dodd Creek Falls First Cascade


 Dodd Creek Falls Second Cascade From Below

We walked down to that one, met some ladies who were down from North Carolina, had a snack and talked with them for a while. While me and Iz were talking, Sophie went off and found this little perch to hang out on.

 Sophie Perched and Snacking

There were gazillions of these little flowers with odd leaves along the trail. I wondered of they were some kind of trillium. I still haven't looked them up, they may be.


Another waterfall...

 Dodd Creek Falls Third Cascade

As we approached that one, a girl told us "there's a little trail leading down to it where you can go down and walk on the rocks", but upon reaching said trail, I'm not sure if she and I have the same definition of "little". The trail was nearly vertical and had one spot where you'd have to down climb down further than I felt confident even I could do, let alone the girls. We left that one alone.

Though, getting in position to take that photo, I noticed this awesome rock wall.

 Rock Wall Near Third Cascade

It appeared that rock had been quarried out of the cliff to the right and filled in below to create a stable base for the road.

We pressed on.

 Girls Walking

At one point, we passed a wide, flat, levelled out piece of land. Clearly something had been there but no evidence of it remained.

At length, we reached our destination.

 Lower Raven Cliffs Falls

 Raven Cliffs 1

 Raven Cliffs 2

 Raven Cliffs 3

Or so I thought. I mean, those look like cliffs and that looks like a falls. We started exploring the area, climbing all over the rocks and we were soon rejoined by the ladies we met earlier. They knew exactly where to go. Up this.

 Raven Cliffs Falls Trail 4

And then we saw the real deal.

 Raven Cliffs Falls 1

 Raven Cliffs Falls 2

Unfortunately, as Andrew had indicated, photos don't do it justice. Nor will these words, but here goes... Basically there's this giant cliff face and huge chunks of rock have calved off and fallen to the side. The cliff itself has split in two as well and a stream has worked its way down into the split. Water enters the crack from the top, ping-pongs all the way down, turns and runs off between the calves. It's impressive.

Family portrait.

 Me and the Girls at Raven Cliffs Falls

A crazy trail continued uphill past the falls to a set of roots which allegedly led all the way up to the top of the cliff.

 Raven Cliffs Roots

We climbed the crazy trail and got within 10 feet of the roots, but Sophie couldn't get up the last little bit. Both of the girls are good at climbing on rocks, but it was steep and there weren't any good holds. I could see what she needed to do, but she wasn't confident that she could do it. Sophie does have a problem sometimes where if she isn't comfortable, she just gives up, complains and expects somebody to come and fix it, even though she's totally capable, but this wasn't one of those cases. She was really trying, she just didn't have the confidence and there was real danger if she fell. I probably could have just drug her up the hill, but that's not what we were up there for. Instead, we turned around. The roots will have to wait.

On the way back, we went a different route. I'd seen the old roadbed across the creek and what looked like another rock wall. We crossed the falls on some rocks and made our way around some deadfall to the trail. Yeah, it was the old roadbed, but I'm not so sure it was a rock wall.

 Fake Rock Wall

Up close, it just looked more like one of those lego cliffs. The illusion is impressive though.

We crossed the creek again, Sophie got her feet wet, pitched an "I can't" fit, and me and Iz just had to wait on the other side for her to decide that it wasn't worth crying about, at which point she just walked right on across the creek. She's doing less and less of those these days, but she's got a little more work to do. She says "I can't" but she means "I want you do do it for me so I don't have to be uncomfortable". We had another snack and talked about it for a while. Five minutes later she was cool and we cruised back to the trailhead in record time.

We'd parked off of FS244, which I'd never driven on, so we took a spin out to the end and back. It looks like it'd be fun to ride my bike on.


And there are some beautiful views.

 View From FS244

And yet another waterfall.

 FS244 Falls

After that quick spin we rolled back through Helen, grabbed some food at the Troll Tavern.

 Sophie at the Troll Tavern

...and headed home.

I've got a buddy I know from racing who lives in Sautee and every time I'm headed up there, I think about giving him a call, then I realize I don't actually have his phone number or email. I just see him at races and talk to him on facebook or the SORBA forum. Ugh. Modern technology. Hey Clark, if you read this, send me your digits bro.

So yesterday was one of the best days I've ever had on a bike and today was one of the best days I've had hiking with the girls. The universe is now out of balance. I can't wait to see what Monday has waiting for me :)

1 comment:

  1. Check your PM on the Sorba forums man, contact info sent.