There are some days that just trump all and become something that you wish you could just relive everyday. Of course life gets in the way, responsibilities weigh down on you, and life outside of yourself needs to be attended first. But every so often, you get one of those free days that you are truly free to do what you want and enjoy and nothing much to hold you back. Yesterday was one of those days.
I met up with Jody early in the morning and we headed out to our planned adventure of the day, a 12 mile scenic bonanza of long range views and waterfalls in the Harper Creek and Little Lost Cove Wilderness. After a beautiful ride up NC 181 and down Pineola Rd, we reached the trailhead of Little Lost Cove Cliffs Trail. While our legs quickly warmed up on the short but steep climb up to the cliffs, I could tell that the day was going to be amazing. The weather was ideal and once we arrived at our first view looking over the Wilson Creek valley and up the slopes of Grandfather Mountain my feelings were confirmed. We had only been running for less than a mile and we already were in awe. A beautiful and quick descent later we were staring up at the grandeur of North Harper Creek Falls. Immediately after, we shuffling down the rock face of Chestnut Cove Falls and then down the amazing trail that is North Harper Creek, along with its many creek crossings. We next came upon Bard Falls, which after looking at it from the bottom of the pool, I finally realized how big this fall actually is. It has always been one of my favorites and couldn't help but wish the temp outside was a tad warmer to take a dip in its excellent swimming hole. Granted, less than a mile later I was waist deep in North Harper Creek before ascending Persimmon Ridge Trail back to Pineola Rd.
We had already seen 3 waterfalls on the day and were heading to our next 3 in the Little Lost Cove Wilderness. After the climb out, the downhill along the MST to Hunt Fish Falls was welcomed. Hunt Fish Falls didn't disappoint, even though it is one of the smaller falls in the entire area. I took Jody up to the campsite above the falls, to this day my favorite place I've ever camped, and then we took off on up Lost Cove. Our next destination was he marvelous Little Lost Cove Falls. This fall had eluded me for almost 4 years until a couple of months ago, and since that first visit in February, this was my third trip to the falls! We approached from the bottom and I enjoyed the sight of Spring wildflowers along the path to the lower fall. After some scrambling around the lower fall, we made our way up to the even more majestic upper fall. We tried to scramble up even higher to the upper reaches of the fall, but the way was looking a little more difficult then I was willing to go on the day so we steeply headed up to Little Lost Cove Rd to get back to our car. Just as we were about to finish our run, from the corner of my eye I glimpsed a field of daffodils. We jogged over to the field and admired the Spring blooms and named it Little Lost Cove Gardens. It was a fitting end to our adventure.
After our run, we headed down to the local watering hole, Fonta Flora. Fonta Flora brewery is one of my favorite new breweries. The brewmaster is extremely creative with his recipes and the fruits of his labor pay off big with complex, but highly drinkable creations. While enjoying our frothy beverages, our conversation started leaning towards the gorge. Although Jody had been to many places in the gorge, he had yet to explore the area around Shortoff. With Shortoff only being a short 25 minute drive from the brewery I jokingly suggested we check it out now. Jody said, "Yeah, why not?" Next thing I know we are at the Wolf Pit trailhead and on our way up to the Olson Trail.
We hiked with purpose up Wolf Pit and in 22 minutes we were on Olson. Jody was already stunned with the landscape just from hiking up Wolf Pit. I knew what he was about to see next would blow his mind. Two words to describe Olson Trail, astonishing and thrilling. It is truly awe inspiring and a must for anyone that visits the gorge, except those folks with vertigo. After getting off Olson we played around the summit of Shortoff, checked out an arete, and then took off back to the car and finished our second adventure of the day. The day truly had a little bit of everything.