Thursday, March 23, 2006

spring break epic 2006: part II (of III)

From Panthertown I drove rapidly and directly through the Qualla (Cherokee) reservation (the shady, deep parts) to Straight Fork Road where I met Daniel Hanks at the Hyatt Ridge Trail...trail head.

Here is a little Google Earth goodness:

The orange arrow points down the mountain toward our cars (just over 2000 feet above sea level). The yellow X indicates Low Gap (about 4800 feet) where we crossed Hyatt Ridge and the red X is the Enloe Creek campsite where we stayed (about 3800 feet). It was 1.9 miles from the cars to the top of Hyatt Ridge (so almost 1000 vertical feet per mile... which is a lot) and it was one mile from Low Gap to Enloe Creek. Not a terribly long hike, but very steep. Poor Daniel is always in such good shape and I creep up the trail. The blue splotch above our camp is supposed to represent the large pool that we pretty much stopped at.

That valley holds Raven Fork, the river we were there to explore. The Raven Fork watershed is very big and very wild, one of the most wild areas of the park for sure. Raven Fork is the biggest river in the park without a trail along it. So we walked straight up it. We figure we went just over a mile to that pool. It wasn't necessarily easy going, but we were fishing the whole time so it wasn't bad.

Here are a lot of pictures of Raven Fork...and Daniel. Note, however, that there are no fish pictures. This is mainly because I didn't catch any. Daniel, on the other hand, caught "a mess" of brookies, maybe 15 in all...on spinning gear. Oh well. He plans on posting his pics on his blog so I will link there when they appear.

A couple other things to note: the water was very high. I would love to go back in the summer. But I bet the fish would be very skittish. It was also very cold. A cold front came through the night before these pictures were taken. It rained. Very very hard. There was a spectacular thunder storm. Lots of lightening. But I'll tell you what, the palace was bomb-fucking-proof. Not a single leak. It probably was in the 40s all day the next day and we definately climbed up above 4000 feet on the river. It was very windy. And very sunny. My lips have never gotten so chapped in so little time. We were really impressed with how big the river was for being so high up.

Without further ado...Raven Fork.

Oh...and you can click on almost every picture for a big version. I highly recommend it.

This is a cool picture. This is the freaking huge pool that is indicated on the map above. It is probably over 4000 feet in elevation. You can just make out the high ridge spruce-fir forest in the upper left hand corner of the picture.

This shot is from below our camp, looking up at the bridge which was installed after some unfortunate soul was killed trying to ford the river at high water. The bridge is at least 15 or 20 feet over the river and yet during big floods, the river gets over the bridge. That is fucking intense.

This is a shot from the bridge looking upstream. Note the massive tree trunks, probably 20 to 30 feet long and 1 to 2 feet in diameter simply strewn about the boulders. That flood must have been intense.

This is a shot of the bridge and our food hanging from the convenient bear-proof rig.

It wasn't mouse proof though...and my new tent bag got chewed up...not to mention my sesame sticks and cous-cous.

More from downstream:

It really is a temperate rain forest.

I really love this kind of thing. CLICK FOR BIGGER.

This is some wild lichen or maybe a liverwort of some sort.

It got cold.

It was a nice campsite. The palace rules.

Cowboy coffee...does a body good.


Mac said...

Nice, but where is the huge bag of shitty weed and tuckermans revine wildness? I'm missing that...

Anonymous said...


The pics of Raven Fork are gone :(