High Falls and Big Falls


Lisa and I.

Every time there is a hard hike, (which we now call VVS, very very strenuous) whether it is extremely technical or extremely steep the hike always seams to be my idea. 🤦‍♀️

We are in a 100 waterfall challenge put on by the Carolina Mountain Club. It has been around since 2009 and only 27 people have finished it. It goes along with a book by Kevin Adams called North Carolina Waterfalls. The waterfalls are all within 100 miles of Asheville. Some in SC, Tennessee and most in NC. After these two I will have 37 of the 100 on this list. Lisa has about the same.

These two are in Lake Toxaway. There are a bunch of falls on this trail but we are most interested in these two.

In Lake Toxaway at the beginning of Brewer road is an old gate and dirt road. We park on the side of the road and head down the trail. There is one other car here. Everything I’ve read on these two days they are hard to find and extremely steep and had a possibly deadly river crossing. We are about to find out. We take pics of the direction pages in the book.

After walking about a mile we turn the corner of a switchback and I hear something in the gully below us. It sounds like an animal digging and not a small one. This makes me a little nervous! Immediately after we hear a waterfalls with a tiny steep path. We stop there and I decide we need to keep going to the other Falls and get this one on the way back. It is on our List it’s White Owl Falls. Really it’s just cause I think it might be a bear or something i heard, but she buys that and off we go. We come to a fork in the trail and go right. I am severely challenged when it comes to my left and right. Also when it comes to following directions. That’s why Lisa and I are perfect hiking partners! She knows right from left but she doesn’t follow directions well and never minds backtracking! 🤣 Which we do a lot!

We follow this trail to another fork and can hear a waterfall. We take the path to the left and head down about 100 feet. We end at a water crossing and can barely see this Falls off to the right. We don’t see another path so I check my directions and it says to rock hop across to get a view of the falls that is around the corner. Heck with that, we take our shoes off and get in the water which is about thigh high. This is high Falls. It’s beautiful with a cool spray of water come by off it.

We hike back up to the trail, the directions say go left so we do. The actual directions say go back to the last fork and go left but i didn’t read it correctly! We head down this trail and it gets thicker and thicker and we can hear Falls down below. Lisa is leading and basically sails above the trail with ease and walks right by a huge black snake. I come along sounding like a heard of elephants and startle the snake! I stopped dead because I didn’t know what way it was gonna go! After it quit moving I went around it and off we go.

We come to a river crossing (the one that’s supposed to be dangerous?) but it’s not. We cross and go up the main trail above the river just like the directions.

We are following pink ribbon markers and figure we are going the right way. We end up at off all things a house! Clearly the wrong way! We backtrack to the last river crossing and cannot figure out our error. Somewhere we took the wrong fork. So we backtrack all the way past the last Falls and find the first fork. I re-read the directions and it clearly says go left and I point to the right. Lisa says “girl that’s right!” 🤷‍♀️ hmmm

Oops 😬 that’s 3 miles we wasted! Oh well we go left and follow the same directions! Over the creek crossing take the obvious path. After a bit I’m scared out of my shoes when a barking dog comes out at us! Behind the trees is a campsite with a couple camping. These are the only two people we see the entire day. He says the 3 water falls are clearly marked with pink ribbon.

Half of this trail we were ducking under rhododendron cover. We walked for miles. We heard a couple of falls and saw two ribbons but we were after Big Falls. It was a long way till we saw another ribbon. We could barely hear the Falls below because it was about 200 yards straight down! Hardly any switchbacks. It got steeper and steeper. People have tied ropes everywhere. This trail would be just as hard sliding down on your butt!

So at the bottom we can hear and barely see the water. In front of us is a super thick thicket of rhododendron and other trees and some boulders. We go off to the left scrambling over downed trees and rocks. I stop to catch my breath and she goes ahead to see if we can get to the Falls. By the way the directions said go right but i think we found the better way! After a couple minutes she doesn’t come back I decided to keep climbing. This stuff is thick. I wasn’t sure which way she went and Just then she is coming back. She said I found it come this way! We find a rock area at the bottom of the falls! Were here! We sit on a rock and have lunch and now it’s playtime! (For Lisa)

This is a beautiful Falls! It had that rock side across from us. Lisa was determined to climb over there. I was really tired and worried about that 200 yard climb up! So I didn’t attempt it. She went down stream just a little then rock hopped over. It looked super dangerous but she did it with ease. She walked all the way up to the top in the pic above.

She came back at the base of the falls and walked through it like a spider! 3 point contact even in water!

Since she didn’t take her camera with her she went back and did it again! I swear waterfalls are like Red Bull for her! I wish i had her energy! We took a ton of pics. The sun was hitting the falls different now making it glow. It is so isolated here it’s unbelievable! The closest person is prob 4 or 5 miles away! It’s actually a gorge here. Both sides of the river has steep rock walls along it! It’s amazing to say the least.

I decided to make my 52 pic! I was going to post it on Instagram but haven’t the nerve yet! This is my 52 and feeling fine pic!

Now the scramble back up! When I say it’s straight down I wasn’t joking! When I have to attempt a climb like this sometimes I basically have a panic attack! My anxiety was high. Lisa timed it it took 25 minutes to get to the trail! I stopped no less than 20 times. I was dripping wet! She always thinks it’s funny to take a pic of me suffering!🤣🤣🤣🤣

Now the long walk back! About half way I mentioned that the people at that campsite were probably getting worried about us. It was now 5:30. We spent slot of time down there!

I was so done! My legs were not cooperating! I thought when I get to this river crossing I’m gonna lay down in it! I didn’t. When we reached that campsite they came out to us to say they were getting worried and if we didn’t come soon they were coming to look for us! Such nice people. We told them we played along time down there!

In about a mile was the last Falls we missed, White Owl Falls. I said I cannot climb down there. Lisa said she is as going to go ahead and I’ll meet her at the top. When I got to the top of the trail I laid my poncho out laid down used my pack for a pillow and just chilled. I was enjoying my rest when I heard Lisa coming back down the trail. She passed the trail because she thought there was another trail to the falls but came back because she thought I was sitting there. She still thinks there is another trail with a ribbon marking it. There isn’t because i remember the trail was right after i thought i heard a bear! We continue to walk past where that noise in the gully was us still there. Now it sounds more like water. We keep walking towards the car. It’s a long way. We call that the hamster wheel trail. You keep walking feeling like you get nowhere!

Next time we are in Lake Toxaway it will be easy to go back and add White Owl Falls to our list. Time to eat!!!

It’s a great big beautiful world. Get out there and explore!

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