While the weather was still warm enough to get in the water, we wanted to go back to Whiteoak Canyon and hike the loop in reverse, going up Cedar Run to Skyline Drive, then parallel to Skyline Drive for a couple of miles, and then back down Whiteoak Canyon. Earlier in the spring, we hiked Whiteoak Canyon to the bridge at the upper falls before turning around and descending back to the car. That hike was a bitch back then. Yesterday was more of the same.
Yesterday, it was all we could do to get to Skyline Drive from the bottom of the hill. The middle section along Skyline over to Whiteoak Canyon was a nice respite, but we were good and tired by the time we hit the upper falls and the hike back down the canyon on rubbery legs was not all that fun. And the scenery wasn't there for us either: the leaves are falling, the water level is way down because of the drought, are patches of wildflowers that were blooming in June are now all burnt up.
Despite a really late start (Ann didn't stir until 8am), we were among the very first cars in the parking lot when we arrived just shy of 10am. After saddling up and checking in with the rangers at the little shack in the parking lot, we headed up the trail, forking left to hike the circuit clockwise. The primary interest in going this way was to check out the famous waterslide. I was a little worried about the waterslide because of the lack of water in the creek; it has been weeks since we have had any rain.
After a strenuous uphill climb, we came to the lower waterfall on Cedar Run where some girls were jumping from the rocks some 12 feet above the water. The depth of the pool in the picture below looked to be about 7-8 feet. You can see Annie surveying the action at the top of falls.
|Lower Waterfall on Cedar Run|
|Working up the Nerve|
|Ooh! Bad Form!|
|Points Off for Lack of Style!|
|Round Two: Styling!|
|Victory Salute All the Way in!|
|Sugar Maple Leaf on the Water|
It's that time of year. The time when rain has been scarce for weeks, when the leaves on the trees (especially the tulip poplars, black locusts, and some of the maples) are starting to fall, and when wildflowers are starting to fade. We saw a very few random sunflower-type plants blooming here and there. But this is the time of year for asters and we saw several types blooming all up and down the mountain.
|Roan Mountain Goldenrod, Solidago roanensis|
|Asters Blooming Everywhere|
|Phenomenal (Poisonous) Doll's Eyes/Baneberry, Actaea pachypoda|
|Beat Up Pearl Crescent, Phycoides tharos|
|Cabbage White, Pieris rapea, a Common Garden Pest|
|Super Delicious Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureus|
When we got to the ford just below the bridge, there was almost no water coming through, about 18 inches less than when I rockhopped the ford back in June. This lack of water would really make the falls less striking than earlier in the year. Contrast the photo below with the photo in the June blogpost in which Ann is doing her warrior pose in this same place with ample whitewater tumbling over the cliff behind her, the cliffs clad in lush green.
|Upper Falls, Whiteoak Canyon|
|My Favorite Part of the Whiteoak Trail|
|Lower Falls, Whiteoak Canyon|