Thursday, July 14, 2016

July 6, 2016 - Big Bradley Falls from below

A good part of this area is in severe drought conditions which has been hindering my waterfall activities lately. I have a long list of waterfalls I want to revisit and new ones from Kevin's book that I want to see, but I want to photograph them with good water flow. Big Bradley Falls was on my list for a revisit, so I decided to do the hike from below to make sure my directions were up to date. I hadn't been since 2009. It's a good thing I did, because a lot has changed. The directions and more info about the waterfall can be found on my site here.

I parked at the same pull off along Green River Cove Rd that I did in 2009 because there was very little room to park at the gamelands gate back then. Now there's a parking area with enough room for probably 8-10 cars - and there's an info kiosk that wasn't there before. The beginning of the hike is the same. It's along a gravel/dirt service road that parallels the Green River through the valley. There's a good view back at the mountains on the opposite side of the river and lots of summer wildflowers this time of year.

I had decided to save shooting the wildflowers for the way back until I got to the old log cabins. I saw a flower growing there I had never seen before, but it looked more like a leftover bulb type flower from the days when this was somebody's home. I had to stop and shoot it - then a couple of others.

'Boone' Gladiolus
Carolina Wild Petunia
Heliopsis or Helianthus?
The 'Boone' Gladiolus was the flower I stopped for. I didn't find out what it was until I got back and had some help with my Facebook pals. Dana has a good write up in her blog about some of these in Cades Cove. There were quite a few other varieties in bloom also, but I didn't want to spend too much time on the wildflowers.

From here I thought I had it made as far as the directions go, but something had changed. From the field at the homestead, an old road heads back into the woods for a short distance, then I thought I remembered it ending at Cove Creek where I had to cross. Now there are a couple of wildlife fields planted with soybeans and corn that I'm pretty sure weren't there a few years ago. I looked along the edge of the creek for where the old road crossed, but saw no signs of it at all. After goofing around here for a while, I decided to head along the edge of the fields to see what was at the end. Here I found a trail heading into the woods that I followed until it came to the creek. I had to cross through the creek to pick it up on the other side and from here a narrower trail marked with flagging tape led the rest of the way to the base of the waterfall.

I'm not sure if this is an 'official' trail, but I kind of doubt it. It's fairly easy to follow, but is steep and tricky in places where it's narrow and drops off quite a ways down to the creek. I passed several smaller waterfalls and cascades along the way that I remember from last time, but didn't bother going down for shots. By the time I got to the base of Big Bradley, the sun was creeping into the scene and making shooting difficult. Pictures of the waterfall can look crooked because the right side of the falls - the main flow - is diverted to the right at the top and flows more to the right before reaching the base. I still need to rehike the trail to the top area of the waterfall where there's an overlook. I hope to get that done before the end of the summer.

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