Schoolhouse Falls and Some Serious Hikers
Schoolhouse Falls is a great waterfall and one I had not visited yet...that is until last week. A friend from our local camera club and I thought it would be a nice relatively easy hike of under 2.5 miles. Easy right. Turned out not so much.
To find Schoolhouse Falls, I'd recommend doing an internet search or reference pg. 297 in the latest edition of Kevin Adams' North Carolina Waterfalls book. The number of trails to follow, etc. is a bit much to include here. Generally, this waterfall is located near Lake Toxaway in western North Carolina and its pretty easy to find the trailhead.
As you may be able to tell from the photo, the waterfall is pretty open to the sky so photographing it early or late in the day or during cloudy conditions would be the best. But it is a pretty nice waterfall. You can walk across the stream to get to the base of the waterfall to shoot from behind it. Spray will be an issue if you get too close.
As we were finishing up shooting a local hiking club showed up. The dozen or so hikers had a leader who looked pretty elderly as did some of its members. After finishing my last few photos, we visited with the group for a while. Turns out the leader was 85 and has led hikes twice a week for several years. On another day he does trail maintenance. Wow! I want to be this guy when I grow up! They invited my friend and me to hike with them to their next stop - Warden Falls. Since it wasn't too far away, we tagged along.
So much for a day of easy hiking. The trail quickly disappeared and turned out to be more of bushwhack through trees and rhododendrons. And, of course, more elevation changes. I picked the wrong day to forget my lunch. I was last in line to cross a stream. After changing into my water shoes and getting going, the group had disappeared down the "trail". Of course I couldn't see any trail or the group for that matter. Being so close to the waterfall, I couldn't hear anyone either. So I took off bushwhacking through the brush staying close to the river, sometimes on my hands and knees. I finally saw a some red off to the side and thought it was the group and thankfully it was. So an easy day of hiking turned out a bit differently. The group had taken a better path than the one I took - of course.
Warden Falls is a so-so waterfall in my opinion and I'm not sure I'd make a special trip to photograph it. Perhaps in autumn it would be more photogenic. But its always great to see nature's beauty and enjoy being away from the daily routine.
Keywords: forest, landscape, long exposure, nature, nikon, north carolina, reid northrup, rhododendrons, rocks, stream, trees, water, waterfall
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