It's Brady!

Monday, January 30, 2006

A Day Hike with Girls

Mayhem! Death! Insanity! a.k.a. "A Day Hike with Girls".

OK, so it wasn't quite that bad. Saturday, I went on another falls visit with Jarred Mann, Nowell Hardin and GIRLS!!! *Insert 50's Hitchcock thriller music* Brittany Koppen, Michelle Lavengood (that's a long "a", get it right...all together now... lay-vin-good...great job) and Sarah Starks. All in all it was a good time, though I'm pretty sure Sarah almost died.

We arrived at the trailhead about 10:45 and set out on a day of adventure. The late morning air was wonderfully crisp as we entered the well-worn path. The babbling brook followed us for a short time. We crossed three times on well-placed stones that move under your feet. One spot has a small, but picturesque four-foot waterfall and near-perfect squares as stepping stones.

I think Sarah tripped.

We soon turned off the original trail and moved over man-made wooden bridges and along deep ravines. The trees stood bare on the slopes and afforded a view of the valleys toward the sleepy town of Walhalla. The trail was littered with fallen trees from the ice storm in December.

Sarah tripped again.

After the 1.5 mile trek, we finally heard the faint roar of the falls in the distance. We were getting quite close. As we rounded the last turn and headed downhill, the falls peaked through the firs. We quickly descended the last hundred yards to the rock-strewn base of the falls.

Sarah tripped.

For an hour we gazed upon the beauty of the beauty of the surrounding flora, fauna and falls. Ok, so there wasn't a lot of fauna, but the flora and falls were pretty sweet.

Of course, moss still grows on the north face of forest things. The large rock became a hazard for the girls and Brittany nearly fell to her untimely death when she tried to slide off the front of the rock formation at the falls' base. Sarah surpisingly made it off the rock unscathed, much to the chagrin of the guys.

We started up the steep incline toward the top of the falls and within a few minutes we were once again on top of the world. At least on top of our little hick-town, middle-of-nowhere, waterfall world. A group of girls from Clemson (I am assuming they were from Clemson) arrived at the base of the falls, so the guys...excuse me, THE MEN...had to climb down through briars and fallen trees to the middle section of the falls to show our bravado and machismo. I don't think it worked too well...I'm pretty sure I heard them laughing at us.

Back at the top, we convinced the ladies to walk upstream with us which lead to pretty much nowhere.

After twenty minutes or so, we turned back and headed toward the trail.

I think Sarah tripped here twice and I made Michelle fall when I took a picture of her... was pretty comical to me and the others, but if the look on her face could kill, no one would have made it out alive.

Forty-five minutes and seventeen Sarah near-death experiences later, we arrived at the cars and lounged for a bit before we headed back to the comfort of SWU.

Jarred met my friend Chuck. They became friends pretty quick. Aren't they cute?

I enjoyed the day and was happy to have the ladies along for the trip, no pun intended Sarah.

Note: All references to wishing for bodily harm to Sarah Starks or any of the girls is absolutely made up on my part. It is inserted for comedic value only. Please do not write angry comments concerning this. Also, the number of times that Sarah tripped may have been exaggerated slightly.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Unexpected Adventures

Andrew Pierce - Jason Williams - Jarred Mann - Abram Rampey - Lyle Denton

Camping this past weekend was great! We arrived at the campsite after 6:00 pm, so it was already dark. It took about an hour and a half to set up the campsite, but when it was finished, it was a sight to see. Three tents, a firepit, a rain shed and six men.

For supper we had hot dogs and sat around for a long while talking. We decided to walk out to the narrows at night to experience the difference between night and day. The class VI falls and rapids were definitely higher than normal. The awesome power of the moving water was evident from the near-deafening roar. It was an awesome sight as our flashlights flitted around the rocks. We sat in a row and just listened for several minutes. We "Band of Brothers" looked into darkness and felt a comradery like no other event had given us.

We went back to the campsite and went to bed. About 1 A.M., it started to rain. A couple hours later, I felt a coldness all around my bag was wet! Needless to say, my night was pretty miserable. I was cold and wet and didn't sleep much at all - maybe an hour. When I got up, Lyle was already awake, so we decided to get the fire going. Lyle finally succeeded and everyone else started to wake up. Abram and Lyle cooked breakfast for us on their camp stoves. We had bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and sausage.

After breakfast, we packed everything up and took all our stuff back to the vehicles. Lyle, Abram and Jason left about 11 A.M. Jarred, Andrew and I stayed around to go hiking. We went back and got ready to set out. We made 12 sandwiches and stuffed our packs with only the essentials. About 12:15, we set out. We stopped at the narrows again and then continued on.

The view from the narrows is pretty impressive. A large rock structure stands tall out of the river. A rock face frames the left side of the view and the forest takes up the right stance and curves left with the water.

As we walked down, we took one last look at the rapids from below. The sound was quickly fading, but the incredible power still permeated our eyes.

We hiked for an hour and a half down the river. About halfway in, the river split around a large island. We took the smaller split and followed the narrow, overgrown trail onward.

At one point Jarred found a rock that he wanted to climb, so up he went. The rock stood near fifteen feet high, covered in furry moss.

I explained to Jarred that moss grows on the north faces of things in the woods, so we must be facing north. My compass showed that I was pretty close. He quickly objected to the statement, saying that moss grows everywhere. I proved him wrong farther down the trail, when we saw that all the trees were green on one side with moss and only bark showed on the other side. I triumph once again!

We stopped for lunch on an outcropping of rock at 1:30. After luch, we continued on for another twenty minutes, when a splitting headache told me that turning around was our only option. I was a little disoriented most of the way back, and had trouble when things got tough.

We crossed some rocks in the river at one point and I fell and bruised my hip, hand and arm. If I had been hurt badly, a helicopter would have to had been brought in, because no one could get us out by hiking through. We continued on, and finally made it back after 3:00. The cold was worth it. The lack of sleep was worth it. The pain was worth it. was awesome. Chauga Narrows...Just go.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Narrows Escape

It's time to get away. Going camping tonight with a few of the boys: Jarred Mann, Abram Rampey, Jason Williams, Andrew Pierce, and maybe Lyle Denton. It's gonna be a grand time of hikin', cookin' over a far and bondin' time in nature.
We're headed to the Chauga Narrows.

The narrows is a combo of a waterfall (6 or 8 feet), then a fast-moving 25-foot cascade through a sluice with rocks protruding everywhere.

It's a Class VI rapids according to and

It's supposed to rain this weekend, but we don't care. We just bought $70 dollars of food and supplies, so we should be just fine.

[Pictures from the aforementioned websites.]

Monday, January 16, 2006

Takin the long way...

Saturday, I went hiking with Andrew Pierce, Jason Williams and Jarred Mann. What a day! We left at 9 am, with anticipation brimming. After a thirty minute drive passing through Seneca and Walhalla, we arrived at the Yellow Branch Nature Area. The entrace to the park is almost directly across from the entrance to Stumphouse and Issaqueena.

Our hike began on a simple .2 mile loop, but split off and headed uphill. We crossed Tamassee Creek a few times on stepping stones, a few times without stones and a few times on wooden bridges. The trail began to get narrower as we went, the hillside slowly dropping away to deep ravines.

As we walked on the trail, the wind was furiously howling above us on the ridgeline. At one point a tree which had fallen onto another tree broke in half about 50 yards ahead of us. A twenty-five foot section of the mammoth tree crashed violently to the earth below. We stood in amazement and slight fear on the trail, not moving for a couple of minutes. There were fallen trees all along the trail; at least thirty across the path. We could be in the path of a rogue, rotten, hiker-slaying oak.

Finally, we arrived at the destination of our interest. As we rounded the last turn, I could just barely see the falls peeking through the trees. Yellow Branch Falls was calling our names and begging us to come closer. We jogged the last 100 yards to the base and stood in utter awe of the incredible beauty.

The falls stand a solid 75 feet high and form a perfect end to the valley in which we stood. The most amazing thing is how wide the falls are. The top stretches around in a half-circle, at least 40 feet. The table-top ledge spilled water down ten feet where the rocks are craggy and several small ledges redirect the flow. At some places, the water slides down smooth faces through dark moss, creating a foam that ripples and seems to slow time in its ginger pace down the rocks.

All the surrounding rocks in the area trickle water, making for difficult climbing. One large boulder sits on one side of the creek looking directly at the middle of the falls. A large crevice is created by another boulder behind it, making for photo opportunities and fun climbing.

Can any guy at a waterfall resist climbing to the top. Taking the long way around, we hiked up the right side of the falls and followed the ridgeline through thick brush and down steep terrain. Finally we found a creek and followed it to where it dropped off in a thin ribbon. We knew we were close. The last fifty yards was filled with anticipation, but the view from the right side at the top left us wanting. We crossed the creek and stepped near the edge. WOW! Incredible is all that can be said.

We stayed on top for about an hour, climbing down to the many levels of the falls. Hanging precariously at times to reach the ledges, we stood where few men have been. The sun kissed our faces for the first time that day as we sat with the wind in our hair. The warmth was met with a chill, but we could care less if it was hot or cold. We breathed in God's presence as if it were the oxygen in our lungs. Nature whispered to us through the howling wind, "Do you see it. Do you feel it." We saw it and we felt it. The wonder of God's awesome creation was filling our senses.

The hike back down was a little easier. The well-used trail delivered us without incident (other than Jason's muddy rear from sliding) to the bottom of the falls only feet from where we originally entered the area. The twenty-minute hike up the falls was followed by the three-minute hike down. I rather liked the difficulty of the first and was proud to have taken the harder route, simply because it was harder.

The hike back was uneventful, but offered a time of reflection on what we had experienced. We felt as though we had stood on top of the world in the hand of our Creator. It felt like it was the best-spent six hours of our lives. Now we look forward to the next hike, the next waterfall, the next bonding experience, the next glimpse of God.

The day was capped off with a six-man trip to Peppino's. Abram Rampey, Jason Williams, Jarred Mann, Tyler Lewis, Russell Purvis and I had a grease-filled evening. And then my day was over...

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

$70 well spent?

I've bought several DVD's in the last several weeks. It seems that 2- and 3-fer deals are my weakness. I love it. So, let's see...what movies did I buy:

1) Matchstick Men
2) Frailty
3) A Few Good Men (2-disk Special Edition)
4) Reservoir Dogs (2-disk 10th Anniversary Edition)
5) Pirates of the Carribean (2-disk Special Edition)
6) Equilibrium
7) Sling Blade (2-disk Special Edition Director's Cut)
8) Crash
9) Luther
10) National Treasure (2-disk Special Edition)

All for under $70. 2 for $11 at Wal-Mart, 3 for $25 at Blockbuster, 3 for $30 at Best Buy. I love it. Pretty sweet deal!