Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hunt Fish Falls, October 2010

I  spent last weekend backpacking to Hunt Fish Falls, on Lost Cove Creek in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.  I've been hiking and camping at Hunt Fish Falls for over 35 years - a number that reveals not only my relative age, but also how much I love this area. (Indeed, the header photo for this blog was taken at Hunt Fish Falls several years ago.)
The waterfalls and pool at Hunt Fish Falls.

We packed in on Friday afternoon, made camp at our favorite creek side campsite, and stayed until Sunday. The weather was perfect - sunny and warm in the day, dropping to the mid-30s on Friday night and the 40s on Saturday night. A full moon illuminated the nocturnal scene.

Our cheerful camping cohort waving from atop a rock.
Lost Cove Creek pours over two small falls at Hunt Fish, then gathers in a large pool. Surrounding by rocks, the pool is a natural place to hang out. In the summer we'd be swimming, but even though it was a pleasant 60+ degrees, the water was probably in the mid-40s.  Here's a few photos from poolside:

Silver and gold.  A leaf swirling in the eddies.

Small leaf dams form where the pool drains downstream.

The water was amazingly clear, as this photo of a floating leaf and its shadow indicate.

Even though it was cold, some wading was in order. I think I can still feel my feet at this point, but they became quite numb rather quickly.  Bracing!

Our stuff on the lower rocks.

Heading back to the upstream campsite after a poolside afternoon.
On Saturday we spent our time hiking upstream and downstream, enjoying the lovely fall day. Random photos from those treks appear below:

Trail side mushrooms? Or just fun guys?

Looking up from the creek. The sky was brilliantly clear and blue.

Fall colors and bright greens.

Maple in transition.
Our campsite, upstream from the big pool, is an old favorite, and is well used.  Consequently, little firewood is available nearby. We trekked upstream about a quarter mile and brought back a big pile of wood and had a merry ole fire on Saturday night. The younger members of our cohort had a great time playing in the creek, finding crawdads, and falling in. We rigged up a drying rack for the wet pants.

Warming backsides. Drying pants. Having fun.

The view upstream from the creek crossing.

Lost Cove Creek in early autumn splendor.
This trip included breaking in some new gear. I replaced my aging (20+ years old) backpack, sleeping bag, and water filter, and it really made a difference.  My sleeping bags is much lighter and warmer than the old bag, the backpack has much better suspension and a better design, and the new water filter was a great improvement over the my old unit, which had died.

One of my little efforts during such trips is to find solace in the moment.  Noting the trees, rocks, and sky as you take each step, surrendering to the ever-present sound of running water while clearing your mind, and relishing the simple tasks of preparing food, washing your bowls,  making and tending the fire. Steven Altschuler has a fine book about trail side Zen called The Mindful Hiker, which I highly recommend.

One of these mindful tasks is filtering water, a process that involves slowly pumping the filter and filling the bottles, which I did several times each day. I sat in this spot to filter: