Monday, July 8, 2013


I was part way down Toms Spring Falls when I had to stop to check the rope length. I was perched on a small ledge one hundred feet above the forest floor with cold mountain water falling all around me. I could stand comfortably and with the rope for added safety I wanted to pause and stay there forever. Time could stand still and I would just hang out there in that waterfall forever.

But I couldn't. Someone was just above me, waiting to hear the single whistle blow that would indicate I was down safely so he could begin his own descent. I paused for a moment longer, snapped a picture, and continued on my way.



I made it down and Edmund followed.


We were at Toms Spring because we had planned two big days of canyoning in Pisgah but several days of very heavy rains had forced us to improvise and change our plans. On the fourth we had planned to do Grassy from the top down but the weather sent us to Tombstone Blues instead. We hiked miles upstream  from the traditional Tombstone entry points and warmed up to the high water on a nice 100' waterfall.


It was doable. Lots of water, but doable. The anchor took a little work and then I went first and Edmund followed suit.



After the rappel we stayed in the creek for a little while and made an attempt to do it canyon style. The water was very high and moving very fast and after just a few minutes we found ourselves retreating to the banks. This eventually led to a long bushwhack through a labyrinth of fern streams and briar fields. We made our wet way back to the start of Tombstone proper and found that the creek had risen over a foot in the few hours we had been gone. Any dreams we had for doing a canyon that day were quickly squashed.

Here is what the entry point normally looks like:

Here is what it looked like on the 4th of July:


We hike down to the bottom of the first rap just to confirm that our day was over and Edmund remarked to a group of on lookers that the conditions were "deadly". Sadly, his comment proved to be all too true as a kayaker lost his life the same day in the same water.


So for Friday we just a few different waterfalls. After Toms Spring we did Cove Creek. It is interesting because the Beta says Toms Spring is 100+ feet (I'd say 120') while Cove Creek Falls are only 50' but Cove Creek feels much bigger and we used almost every inch of my 170' rope to get to the bottom. The water was still high but it wasn't raining anymore and we were out just to have fun so we took our time scouting the anchor and then rigging. I went first and was surprised to find that with 150' of rope below me in very heavy water the resistance and weight of the rope were setting an automatic fireman's belay and it was very hard to rappel. I had to stop twice on the way down to get the rope out of the main current and off to the side so that I could continue down. Each time I stopped I wanted to stay right there, forever, of course. 




It was an excellent rappel and good Class C practice so we each did it several times. While not the epic canyoning we had hoped for we still got some good rope and creek time in and you can't control the weather.

The rest of the weekend was just the normal rest of the weekend stuff.



I might be mountained out. Let me get back to the ocean, let me get back to the sea.

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