A few weekends ago Jason and Chris, from Up Above Georgia, did a hike over on the other side of Blood Mountain to a waterfall the two of them had both wanted to visit. In their research they found out the fall wasn't named and decided to go through the process of naming it. Due to its elevation and the fact it's usually visible after a high rain amount, they decided to go with Highwater Falls. I was super excited about the prospect of naming of the fall and wanted to hike to see it as well. Jason was equally, if not more, excited for me to see it. So, we packed up our backpacks with all the essential goodies that were needed for the hike, got dressed in some rainy gear, and headed out to visit Highwater Falls the next Sunday.
We set out that morning a little later than usual since we knew it was going to be cloudy and a little wet all day. Most people prefer not to hike in cloudy, somewhat rainy, conditions but it is our favorite of all possibilities. The thick fog and mistiness were what made the hike so incredible. The dark colors were just beautiful in contrast with the lighting of the fog. The trail itself was stunning right from the start as we walked under a canopy of Mountain Laurels that were outlining the edges. On top of all of that, there were so many massive, moss covered rocks all over the place which is like adding extra whipped cream to your latte for Jason & I. The topic of conversation usually turns to the rocks as we pass them, wondering aloud about their history and all the stuff they have "seen."
The weather was absolutely perfect for Jason's photography. As he took several compositions, I either explored around or read my book. I couldn't have asked for a better setting for reading than a mossy, fog-drenched forest.
When we hiked out in Glacier National Park four years ago, we always backpacked in to a location to have a picnic. It was hands down some of the best eating I have experienced. We decided to bring that tradition back home to Appalachia. On this trip we found the perfect little rock to dine on with our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at upper Highwater Falls. If you make this a new tradition of yours, trust us, your food will be some of the best tasting you've ever had and the scenery is included.
We came along so many different types of plants and little wildflowers dotting the way. One of which was what I call Appalachian hearts, but to everyone else they're called Galax; the little heart-shaped jagged leaves that bloom in late spring or early summer to spiky-like white flowers. They grow mainly in the Appalachian Mountains so I claim them as little hearts of our Appalachia. We passed by a few others, taking pictures so we could be nerds and look them up later. One app that is really great at identifying different plants is called, PlantSnap. It's around three dollars and it has been worth every penny for us. You have to make sure to get a clear picture of the subject, but if you can do that, it is pretty good at finding it. You can even save your finds so it's there for you to remember later. A few of the other flowers we passed were American chickweed, bloodroot, and Azure Bluet. Jason got an amazing black and white image of the bloodroot. He put it in a black barn wood frame and it is absolutely gorgeous!
We have gone back since our foggy day hike to walk the trail again, hoping to find our way to the top, but weren't able to make it due to the trail being so faint to non-existent passed a certain point. We erred on the side of caution to go back with a GPS just in case we got turned around (see, Dad! We can be responsible when we hike). We plan on a return trip soon to make it to the top.
Solitude and being surrounded by forest are two of my favorite aspects of hiking and this trail gave us both. It is a gem, for sure. What is even more amazing is that this place is practically in our backyard. Appalachia wraps us in beauty; it's all around.
* FYI, if you decide to take this trail it is accessible by the Desoto Falls Campground. Go towards upper Desoto Falls and pass it to continue up. It is a pretty strenuous climb, so I would say it is moderate to difficult depending on conditioning. The trail itself is somewhat faint in areas so I would suggest paying close attention to where you are as you go along. Also, the waterfall you are hiking above is very slick so I wouldn't get close. There are have been several people who have gotten killed there. But if you stay on the trail it is a very safe hike and you still pass all the beauty.
*All photographs are copyright JMC Artistic Photography