Well, Thanksgiving is over, and the winter and holiday season is looming just ahead. As always, there was much to be thankful for this year, including a great season of backpacking here in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Hiking through the Virginia Highlands, for instance, was like winning the Super Bowl, and standing on the ‘Monkey Head Rocks’—the Sill Branch Overlook—was like walking on the moon. And how could I forget the awesome Hairnt-fest in Damascus, two incredible bear encounters, and the amazing waterfall hikes in the Sampson Wilderness? Now, there were more such hikes to write about.
Inspired by ‘Rat Patrol’ to hike up to the upper Devil’s Fork Falls, as we used to do with the hiking club quite often back in the late 80’s and early 90’s during the ‘waterfall tour’ hikes (which began in Sill Branch and ended at the foot of Longarm Ridge, some 9 miles later, after viewing at least 8 waterfalls and countless cascades) I met up with him and his son, Tyler, around noontime on a Saturday in mid-November. In the ‘old days’, we used to take various people up there to the gorge-like upper falls just to blow their mind, which happened every time without fail. After looking through the photos of trips past, it is amazing to think that we actually took his dog, Schwartz, down those rough, steep and narrow trails in the Devil’s Forks.