Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tuckaseegee Gorge

Last Sunday Dennis and Stephen joined me for a trip down the Tuckaseegee Gorge trail #438, commonly called Bonas Defeat, in the Highlands district of Nantahala National Forest. I made a trip up this trail last year and thought I knew exactly what to expect but Bonas Defeat is a  place like no other and managed to really surprise me once again.

I thought going up was very hard and expected going down to be much easier but was wrong. Down climbing is much harder than up climbing and we found ourselves pulling out the ropes we brought as reluctant hand lines several times. The landscape is exotic and dramatic but unforgiving. Going down canyon it was harder to see what lay ahead and we frequently had to backtrack and try yet another shoot or crack or cave before being granted passage downstream.

Near the end we hit the crux: a boulder problem of immense proportions. This is the cave we had to swim into last year and then climb out of. I didn't recognize it from above and after much scouting we found a slab that was just steep enough to not be safely down climbed so I set up a hand line as added protection and went down first. Halfway down I slipped and went down hard, teetering just above a precipitous. The entire right side of my body took the fall but I did not let go of that precious hand line. Once I regained my senses I continued down and saw that the ledge I presumed was just below the slab wasn't there and instead there was the mouth of a cave. We just had a hand line set up and only had 70 feet of rope to work with but needed a bomber rappel anchor and 150' of rope to work with. And even then we would have a very hard rappel down a rock slab into an awkward cave and then into water. That wasn't going to happen this day.

So, I ascended back up and we took the walk around. But I'll be back. What an amazing place!


















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