It's Brady!

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I didn't plan on a waterfall expedition this past weekend, but...

Andrew Pierce's mom came down from Kannapolis and brought a friend, Sarah, from my home church. I spent the weekend entertaining them, and Andrew thought it would be great to take them on a hike to find waterfalls. Of course, I couldn't turn down the offer. We printed out the directions and headed out towards Walhalla. A slight drizzle sent a flurry of memories flying thorugh my head. My near-death experience at Lee Falls occurred in very similar weather.

Highway 28 rolled through the sleepy town of Walhalla and traversed the hills and curves of Oconee County. Elevations soon rose and we moved farther from civilization. As our destination neared, the roads became solely lined with pines. Our turn-off road toward Burrell's Ford quickly became gravel. This road I had seen on two occassions prior was now familiar and inviting. We parked at the Chatooga Trail entrance and started down the gravel road bed.

We could have sworn that we heard Dueling Banjos being plucked in the distance.

Not far down the road, a small trail split off and beckoned us upward. The trail was fairly easy and had many photogenic cascades which groped for my attention.

As we rounded the last corner, King's Creek Falls stood only yards ahead, majestic and glorious.

We took in the view from every angle.

A bridge lended its support when we needed to cross the creek.

Our second trail started only a matter of yards from where we originally started. The only problem was we didn't know where to start. We walked around for over a half hour looking for the right trail when a couple of experienced hikers gave us perfect directions. The Chattooga River accompanied us on our left as we made our way toward the object of our longing.

Once, a couple of months prior, Spoonauger Falls had eluded me. I was determined to find the way. We walked on the easy trail for a few minutes and found Spoonauger Creek where a sign directed us toward the falls.

The trail then winded through several switchbacks and spit us out right in front of the falls.

Spoonauger Creek washes over the rippling rocks in a bubbling display.

For a time, we simply stood and enjoyed the quiet beauty, but hungry hikers aren't happy hikers. We headed back to the cars and ended our day of hiking with a sense of calm fulfillment. Another weekend adventure had come to a close, but a two-for-one deal on waterfalls made it one not soon to be forgotten.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hundred Dollar Falls

Well, my weekend looked a lot like a beginning plot for the fourteenth installment of everyone's favorite movie series: Final Destination. I narrowly escaped death. I pulled a Danny Stout (this is a reference to the near tragic-fall-to-the-death of SWU alum Danny Stout as he slid off the side of Table Rock and stood on a narrow ledge for hours waiting to be rescued). While my story is not as grand as his, I did manage to hit the ground and cause some bodily harm to myself. Let's start from the beginning... (*start dream sequence*)

I woke up early on yet another Saturday morning to spend my day in nature. All that time of sleeping in would be wasted away for...nay, exchanged for a great day of adventure. I packed up my hiking gear: pack, camera, water, snacks, compass, the BFK (for those of you who have never been hiking with me, this references the Big Friggin Knife), maps and a change of shoes and socks.

Andrew Pierce and I set out towards Walhalla about 9:15, stopping by McDonald's for a quick biscuit. Soon after 10:00 rolled around, we arrived at a parking area where several trucks were congregated. Some hunters had brought their kids out for an early morning rite of passage, their heads gleaming with orange that screamed of traffic cone CAUTION!

The mist was cool on our faces as we looked out towards adventure. We set out across the first of three large open fields, crossing the creek twice before entering the woods. The trail began quite easily, but soon was narrowing and turning uphill slightly. The slightest drops of rain touched our shoulders and caps.

The creek forked at one point and I suggested we go to the right. We hiked for about half a mile up steep ravine slopes and noticed that this seemed even more difficult than the "strenuous" rating that the websites had noted. We had taken a wrong turn. I'm really glad that we took the wrong turn, though.

We saw some of the nicest cascades that I've ever seen. One was probably a quarter mile long - an uninterupted flow over rocks...down they fell as up we climbed...

We finally decided to turn around and went back to the fork in the creek. This trail was much easier, but still had some technical hiking involved. Just as our directions had warned us, the terrain bacame quite rocky.

The boulders seemed to have been set in place by God's own hand. The near-perfect grace and beauty of the surrounding view was met with the strength and majesty of a stone landscape.

We were spellbound by the shear magnitude of what met our eyes. As we snaked our way through the granite labrynth, we looked high up the cove to see Lee Falls peeking between the oaks.

As we neared the plummeting water, the cove opened wide inviting us up and in.

The immense granduer of the craggy rock face caused the wall to look aged and worn, but still held our gaze. We were captivated like a children, hearing stories from a grandfather. Of course, this waterfall had to be conquered...we started the climb to the top...

The climbing was quite difficult and after several slips and slides, I decided we should try to traverse the wall over to the falls without climbing to the ridgeline. Andrew asked, "Do you think we should risk it?" Answered quickly by my confident, "OH YEAH!" At first it was much easier going across the slope rather than up, but then the walkable area became very narrow. At one point, I had to hold on to a root which was growing horizontally as the ground under my feet was only a few inches wide.

Before I could even tell what had happened, the leaves slid out from under my feet and my footing was gone. I felt like Chris Farley hanging by a root off the side of a mountain..."Hold on little root!!!" Sadly, the thick root held, but I let go. It looked like a poorly made action movie; my fingers slipping in seeming slow-motion from around the slick circumference. I turned myself over onto my back as my grip failed and the edge came sliding toward me faster and faster. I could not see the ground below me until I flew into weightless air.

Time, my heart and my breathing all stopped instantaneously. Fifteen feet below me the earth began to fly up. A fallen tree aimed its broken branches at me, reaching to impale me like a skewer. My foot instinctively moved down to brace my fall. I hit the tree only slightly off-center, which sent me into a flat spin onto my pack. Now I was sliding head first, on my back, down a sharp slope. Fifty feet later, I finally came to a stop.

I yelled up to Andrew, who was just coming into view. To his amazement, I was now 75 feet below the place where he had just seen me. I got up and checked myself over, one apendage at a time. When I got to my left arm, I noticed a large gash just above my elbow. I still do not know what I hit that caused that. I notified Andrew that it was time to go. Once he got down to me, his face changed from shock to disgust as he saw the gaping wound.

[Aren't you glad I didn't post that]

We stopped at a flat area to take pics of the wound, but totally forgot to take any shots of the place where I fell. We hurried back to the car and headed to Oconee Memorial's ER.

An hour and a half later, I had four staples in my arm, a hundred dollar co-pay and an awesome story to tell. I can't wait to go hiking again!

By the way, Andrew did not pass go, did not collect $200 and went straight to jail.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Molto Bene...Gratzi Mille!!

I stayed the weekend at Jon Ward's hizzie. Patrick dagenhart and Travis Gilbert (both married) stayed with us. What a weekend!! Too bad Mikey couldn't make it. Once Pat and Trav arrived, we quickly left for dinner. CARABBA's!!! One word: AMAZING!!! Chicken Parmesan with some pasta and lentil soup, plus that bread....mmm mmm good! I love that place. And what's even more amazing is that we walked in at 8:00 and sat down within five minutes. My food was heavenly, not to mention gone in just a few
The four of us guys had an incredible time reminiscing about "old times" in Apt. P. Those were the days. I miss those guys so much. I'm so glad that Pat and Travis had time to get away from the wives for a bit.
When the married men left the next morning, it was another sad farewell. Thank goodness Minister's Conference is coming up next week!!! Pat and Jon are coming down to SWU.
Our weekend was molto bene ("very good") and for your time in reading this, gratzi mille ("Thanks a million").