Friday, April 5, 2013

Catawba Falls - First Attempt

Catawba Falls – 1/5/13 – 3.5 Miles

Three years in a row, now a New Year’s tradition, hiking with my fellow-book-club-member-and-high-school-band-mom-buddy Leida in some chilly location.  This time her husband and all-around good guy Carlos joined us.  We’re out for a medium drive, a short hike and a long lunch.  Where to?  Catawba Falls near Old Fort, NC. 

Getting to the trailhead was the first challenge, feeling like we’re going up the exit ramp for I-40 to find the little country road we’re looking for.  But the parking area is huge and looks pretty new (restrooms!).  Must be something to this Catawba Falls, huh?

(For background on this area and the hike to Catawba Falls, check out Danny Bernstein’s book, Hiking North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Heritage).

Leida and Carlos are ready for the cold

It’s a flat walk for the first mile, including a crossing of the Catawba River, really a wide creek here as the headwaters of the mighty Catawba River that flows on down past Charlotte and into South Carolina, captured along the way in the reservoirs of Lake Norman, Mountain Island Lake and Lake Wylie to give us drinking water.  For info on how not to mess this up, check out the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation.

This unfinished building is all that remains of an old power plant built on the other side of the river.  Funny how we are always looking to get out into nature but are fascinated by man’s impact upon it.

Falling water here, but from a concrete wall left over from a second power plant, not part of the  natural Catawba Falls (But exciting nonetheless.)

The trail began a gentle climb to another crossing, a little more work to negotiate because of a very large downed tree and some unexpected ice that got our adrenaline going.

Lower Catawba Falls, flowing briskly on a cold January day.  Most people have lunch, photos, turn around and go home.  But we’re ready for more challenges!  Right?  Right?

There seem to be a lot of obstacles for such a short hike, but we want to see the Upper Falls.

Will it help to climb up on that rock?  


Gettin’ serious now.  Carlos goes first, me next.  The rope was secure but covered with ice, as were the rocks.  I had to take serious deep-knee-bend steps.  While going up, all I could think about was how un-fun coming back down was going to be.

Leida tried but ultimately said no way, crazy people, go on without me. 

Carlos opted to stay at the top of the rock scramble and I ventured on, but the trail from here was extremely steep with muddy sections and no rocks, no handholds, no nothin’.  Again, climbing up was tough enough but coming down looked like a good bet for a broken leg, not worth the risk.   I decided to turn around and live to see another day.

Walking back down is more fun.

Now where shall we go for our apres-hike libation?

“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.”  ~Robert Frost


Carlos Rodriguez said...

The bit where you need the rope to climb was good fun and a challenge. I was a bit nostalgic, since this part of the hike reminded me of my childhood land in the Dom Rep, but there was never any ice there. :-)

Linda W. said...

Looks like a lovely place for a hike. It's always great to get outside no matter the season.