The alarm broke the silence of my sleepy bedroom at 4 am last Saturday as a reminder of the adventure to come. I scrambled half asleep in the pre-dawn light of my bedroom to get layer after layer of clothing pulled onto my exhausted body. I was up until half past midnight the evening prior out of sheer excitement for the day to come. After fueling my body with coffee and my truck with gas I drove 30 minutes west to meet up with Stephen LaVine for him to load up his gear and accompany me on this journey.
During the week he and I both scrolled endlessly on hiking apps and google maps and decided that the approximate 4 hour journey to the western wilds of North Carolina's Gorges State Park was our preferred destination. Even though we would spend twice as much time driving as hiking, we decided that if the day panned out the way we thought it should; then it would be more than worth the effort.
I made the mistake of looking down at the temperature gauge on my truck while en route and was shocked to see that it read a balmy 5 degrees. Yikes! I can't remember the last time it got this cold. This day had all the makings of a great adventure and we were ready to seize it with vigor and purpose once we arrived in the parking lot at the State Park. We opted for a 4 mile hike to see Rainbow Falls because from our research it seemed like this trail had the most bang for our buck and was doable in our short time table.
The river was frozen! Everything was frozen actually. North Carolina has been stuck in a frigid death grip from polar vortexes and bomb cyclones and a bunch of other made up words that meant it has been REALLY cold. With huge camera bags and tripods and other various pieces of equipment strapped to our backs like pack mules Stephen and I trudged down the trail taking in the awe inspiring beauty at each stop. Nothing could have prepared us for what was in store though.
The falls were massive! It's hard to explain just how beautiful Rainbow Falls was to experience in real life. I love any opportunity to be humbled by the grandeur of creation and this was truly an experience that made me realize my insignificance in that way only nature can. My feeble attempt at photographing the landscapes here and Stephens expert cinematic eye for video all pales in comparison to really being in the presence of this natural wonder. This area creates a temperate rainforest ecosystem making it more humid and slightly warmer than the surrounding peaks which lends for a unique microclimate. With the added humidity and plunging temperatures my beard began to tighten and freeze to my face. Not even that could break this stupid smile from my face though. I can't remember a time recently where I felt truly this happy and overwhelmed with the joy that can only be experienced when you're outside. This was just the medicine I needed to quell the turmoil in my soul that cabin fever and cubicle servitude lend to. Get outside and create some of those happy endorphins!
I highly encourage you to make the trek West and check out this natural wonder!
Stephen is on a mission to film the beauty in National and State parks and he did not disappoint with his newest installment "In the Silence of Gorges State Park" that he filmed while on our adventure last weekend. Check it out and let us know what you think and what you'd like to see us film next. I foresee many more adventures along these lines in the near future so stay tuned!