A sunny and brisk day beckoned us to go in search of waterfalls. This area of South Carolina boasts some of the most majestic waterfalls in the country; in fact, there are more waterfalls along the Chattooga River that runs through North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia than anywhere else in the United States. The wonderful thing about most of them is that they are not touristy in the least and some of them require quite a lengthy and challenging hike, ending in an extremely rewarding and picturesque view.
We got somewhat of a late start – can’t miss the gym in the morning – and had decided to attempt to find at least two waterfalls. Our first destination was Chau Ram Falls, located in Chau Ram State Park. Much to our dismay, the park is closed until March so this one will have to wait. Next on the list was Brasstown Falls, located in Sumter National Forest, which is actually four cascades, and one of the most difficult hikes we’ve experienced. In fact, it was actually more like a “climb” and then later like an obstacle course. We did meet another adventurer who warned us that if we wanted to see the falls in their entirety, we would definitely have to get dirty! This didn’t bother us, of course, but in order to get the optimum vantage point of the falls, we were literally crawling and holding on to trees and vines. As one reviewer put it, for this hike you had to use your “mountain goat skills” and we truly did!
On the return trip toward the car, we noticed in the distance yet another magnificent cascade and then became determined to access it. We realized that we had to cross a stream and that the only way to do so was to walk across a fallen tree! Feeling like Nik Wallenda, I summoned my yoga balance and core and carefully traversed the trunk following Bill, thinking at that moment that I would have to do it again to get back! After walking a bit toward the waterfall we realized that the stream had taken a bend and now we had to step on rocks across the water to finally reach the falls. Of course it was well worth every careful stride as we silently took in the beauty. We talked about how calming and peaceful a waterfall is, even though the rushing water is quite loud. Here, nestled in the forest close to the falls we found a memorial to “Timmy” who obviously was a waterfall fan. In order to get back to our starting point we did, indeed, have to master the natural obstacles once again! As we left Brasstown Falls, Bill and I were joking that one could easily lose a body in this desolate, wooded area. The words had barely left our mouths when who passes us but the County Sheriff Crime Scene Unit!
By now it was 3:30p.m. and the sun was starting to set as the air cooled down. We still thought we could find one more waterfall before dark. Not only are the hikes to the various falls challenging, but also the actual drive to the location in both cases today was unbelievable. First, we turn off a paved road or follow it until all of a sudden it is no longer paved and then you must venture down an obscurely numbered road, like in this case “748C.”
In our attempt to find Riley Moore Falls, we were happy we were in the Jeep because the road was not only curvy but extremely bumpy and undulating! Once the road ended, we found the trail and walked through a really peaceful forest for about a mile. What’s also neat is that as you approach the falls, the sound gets louder and louder. This waterfall was originally a grist mill owned by – you guessed it – Riley Moore! The cascade is 100 feet wide and only about 30 feet high. Also located in Sumter National Forest, on the Chauga River, there is even a small beach area and evidence of lots of campsites. I’m sure it’s a very active place in warmer weather but certainly hasn’t lost any of its magnificence in the winter! After taking in the beauty, we ventured back and even passed one other hiker on our return trip. He had about 45 minutes left before sunset so hopefully he was hiking briskly!
Since we were approaching downtown Westminster around 6:00 p.m., we decided to try a Mexican restaurant that had been recommended. In our workamping experiences, we grew to love authentic Mexican cuisine, having worked in Phoenix and more recently San Antonio, but I must say, Puerto-Nuevo was very good. It appears to be a local place and many customers seemed to be regulars, knowing the servers and other diners. We sampled enchiladas, tacos, tostadas and chimichangas, along with a margarita for me and Dos Equis for Bill, and everything was quite delicious!
We will continue our waterfall wanderings in the days to come as there are many more cascades to conquer!