The magical sound,
of the cascading water,
– Alice Morris
Water coursing, cascading, crashing to rocks below: what is it that stirs the human soul?
Is it nature's persistence demanding that mountains can be made low?
Is it the din of the crashing water, sometimes to the exclusion of all other sound, leaving us alone in our thoughts?
Or is it the overwhelming grandeur of natural beauty?
At 8:00am on Saturday morning, nine Porsches had gathered at Harmony Motors for the drive to Franklin on a morning shrouded in fog. On arrival, the fog had been burned away revealing another perfect Western NC day. Eventually 14 P-cars and 25 participants gathered, only to be divided into two staggered-start groups to drive east on US-64 towards Highlands. As we started to climb US-64, leaves obscured much of the falling Cullasaja River from road view. With first sight of the Dry Falls framed by blooming rhododendron, any disappointment was quickly dispelled.
As with all good planning gone awry, the staggered start interval was not sufficient as the sum total of our group overwhelmed the already half-full parking lot at Dry Falls: the second group effectively blocked the first group in their parking places. For some other visitors, the group of Porsches were just as breath-taking as the falls themselves. Regrouping, we divided into two groups again: those who would stop for photo opportunities at Bridal Veil Falls (the only falls in NC under which a car may be driven) and those who would journey on to the next stop at Silver Run Falls.
Again, our time interval was not large enough: the small, road-side gravel parking strip at Silver Run was quickly over-run with vehicles. Some of our group parked several hundred yards further down the NC-107 where there was ample shoulder. (As an aside, parking a rear-wheel drive Porsche downhill on gravel with no available forward run-on should be avoided!)
Finally it was time to head toward Whitewater Falls for a picnic with an intervening stop to view the Bad Creek Reservoir (used for hydro-electric generation).
After an extended lunch time, the tour continued to Conestee/Batson Creek Falls. Public access here is restricted to a walkway/viewing platform at the top of Conestee Falls.
A few more miles of driving brought us to the middle of Dupont State Park for the last stop on the tour and three waterfalls within hiking distance. Here, a ‘show-stopper’ was encountered: the park was so crowded that the only parking available was on Staton Road, in tall grass, a quarter of a mile or better from the intended destination parking lot. Approaching 3 o’clock with postprandial somnolence (‘food coma’) shadowing any more vigorous activity, most of the group headed their separate ways after a brief stop; a few intrepid souls still ‘up’ for more hiking with waterfall reward.
Overall, the drive was very enjoyable with slow traffic being not an issue. The length of the tour is another matter: for those of us coming from Asheville and points east, it was a long day in and out of the saddle; but nonetheless, a day to be remembered!
Special thanks to Claudia Graham, Dick Maybach and Sharyn Wood for photo and video contributions.