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Wednesday, 19 January 2011 20:01

The Naturalist's Corner: Triple play

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Crawl out of your igloo and take a look around. We had kind of assumed a “snow” mentality here at the Hendershot household. A little sledding, a little snow play, then back into the house for hot chocolate, snacks and movies — wet snow clothes draped over a rack near the back door to hopefully dry before they’re donned again for another sortie outside.

We didn’t have it nearly as bad as some of our friends with steep drives on north-facing slopes and no four-wheel drive. We’re close to the four-lane, our road gets plowed and we have four-wheel drive so we were never really housebound.

But there’s something about when the snow starts piling up that turns your attention to the cave. Chores, like making sure the wood box is full, shoveling the sidewalk and shoveling a path to the birdfeeders on the deck take precedence. The veil of falling snow has a way of turning your thoughts inward – but hey, the world is still out there. The beautiful mountains, forests and streams that so many of us cherish are sparkling in their winter finery and the roads are cleared, so gear up and take a look. You’ll definitely want waterproof boots and dress in light but warm layers. A little slogging through the snow can heat you up quickly, but when you stop it’s still chilly out there.

We opted out of cave mode last Sunday for a trip down to DuPont State Forest, between Hendersonville and Brevard. It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since the rancorous eminent domain battle that transferred the 2,223-acre heart of DuPont State Forest with its dozen or so waterfalls to public lands.

There are several spectacular waterfalls in the area that can be accessed along well-kept trails just minutes from large parking areas along Staton Road. We chose Triple Falls for our destination. Triple Falls can be accessed, even in the snow, with kids, in about 10 minutes from the Hooker Falls parking area. There are convenient steps that take you right to the base of the falls on Little River. There are three distinct cascades with a total vertical drop of 120 feet. The falls, in the snow complete with icicles and 30 feet of spray at the bottom, were stunning. The kids slid on ice, inspected icicles and basically romped in the snow at the bottom of the falls.

The steeper parts of the trail were a bit slippery and that, depending on your perspective (nimble, caution-to-the-wind kid’s or cautious, too-old-to-slide-20-feet-on-your-butt adult’s) was either the coolest thing ever or pause for concern. Dad didn’t have a choice on the descent, in tow by Maddie (5) as she raced her 9-year-old sister, Izzy, down, we “slip-slided” all the way. Mom preferred the tried and true “crab-on-a-tightrope” descent; short, often sideways steps with arms in a graceful arc for balance.

The cool air and exercise put everyone in a restful mood, and while I had company for a while as we traveled U.S. 276 back through the winter wonderland that was the Pisgah National Forest, it wasn’t long after we crested the Blue Ridge Parkway and started our decent to Bethel that I was left alone with my thoughts and three sleeping girls. All in all, it was a great afternoon.

Another debate regarding DuPont is steeping as North Carolina ponders putting the 2,000 or so acres and waterfalls added in 2000 under the jurisdiction of N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation while the remaining acreage will continues under the oversight of the N.C. Division of Forest Resources.

 

Don Hendershot can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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