PISGAH NATIONAL FOREST
GRANDFATHER RANGER DISTRICT
Many of my early trips were done in the Pisgah Holyland comprising Upper Creek, Harpers Creek, Steels Creek and Lost Cove Creek stretching from 1981 to 2006. Here are some assorted pictures of the place.
It’s an area with Linville Gorge as the western boundary and Wilson Creek to the east with Grandfather Mountain to the north and bisected by the Mountains To Sea trail running thru the Gorge and along Steels Creek and across Hiway 181 to Upper Creek and north to Harpers Creek and other points of interest.
It’s a place of big creeks and giant rock creek canyon and big river swimholes. It’s the place where all this madness started.
Back in ’84 I favored various military items and so here I am getting water from Upper Creek with my GI bladder, jungle boots and boonie hat.
In ’82 a couple friends backpack to Harpers Creek and set up a sweatlodge which is visible in the back, right. I’m with my buddies Bob and Steve.
This shot shows a campsite on Raider Camp Creek when I was in my Yoga-Hippie-Grizzly phase. A German student in my rinky-dink backpacking school souvenired me this neato Peruvian wool poncho.
Here’s a shot of Johnny B at Burnthouse Camp next to Upper Creek Pisgah. He was my best backpacking buddy for years and we pulled a hundred trips into the “Piz”.
We arrive to our standard Upper Creek campsite and Johnny pulls out his tent to set up. In those days everyone drooled down their mini mag flashlights.
Upper Creek has a hidden secret canyon gorge which has a 100 foot cliff wall overlook and the edge can be accessed on a very tricky bushwack full of rocks and pines. Here’s Johnny B checking out the scene from the heights. We call it Babaji Point from an old yoga story.
Directly below the Babaji Point cliffs there’s this 30 foot deep swimhole in a V-notch and so Johnny and I climb up to a jump off point for our ceremonial plunge. 1980’s
Into the sacred Pisgah waters! The entire Upper Creek canyon ends in this swimhole and so if you go upstream here you’ll see the best of the rock gorge.
Here’s a partial shot of Upper Creek canyon and the rocks
Lindal Newbius and Carl hike above the creek in the canyon. It’s tricky.
The trail in to Burnthouse Camp and Upper Creek canyon is shown here as it scoots across rocks in a rugged section above the canyon. Here is Lindal Newbius taking a break. On the map this trail is called 268A. 1990.
Once camp is squared, Johnny B and Rob Messick hang out with the crew. Rob is well known for the work he has down on studying old growth forests in the Southeast. 1990.
Johnny B and I pull annual June solstice gatherings to Burnthouse Camp on Upper Creek and here’s one of them in the 1990’s.
It’s a two mile hike in to Burnthouse Camp and the trail ain’t easy as it climbs Heartbreak Ridge but we all managed to get in with strange objects. Conga drum. I once humped in a whole watermelon on top of my external frame pack, and another time humped in a complete canvas tipi cover. Here is Jodal with the Mighty Mite. His wife is Amal who thruhiked the whole AT in 2006. This pic was taken in the 1980’s. Johnny B and I did a 5 week trip along Upper in 1987.
In 2001 I set up a reunion tour and take out George and Whitney into the Pisgah lands. Here is George at the rocky gorge overlook with his giant pack.
George is humping all the stuff while his wife Whitney brings in the progeny.
We get to Burnthouse Camp and you can see the 100 foot waterfall from Burnthouse Creek behind camp. In front of camp of the mighty Upper Creek, so it’s a great place to be if you like water holes and rivers.
On the hike in with George and Whitney we take a break and I show off my new Marmot Couloir bag at the gorge overlook reststop.
Johnny B and Lindal Newbius make a surprise visit to camp and it’s like old times.
In 2004 I introduce Little Mitten and her son Blade to the Pisgah holy land and here they are at the end of forest road 197 prepping to move up the trail.
Trail 268A passes by big rocks while Upper Creek is far below and to the right in this picture.
Johnny B breaks a sweat after climbing Heartbreak Ridge.
Blade spins around on the Upper Creek trail leading to camp. He’s wearing my old Kelty Ultra Tioga pack, and Little Mitten has her standard small Kelty.
Blade and Uncle Fungus take a break on the Upper Creek trail. I’m using my old red Dana Terraplane.
Burnthouse Camp is repopulated with tents and here’s my old Mt Hardwear Hammerhead 3. Directly to the left and behind is Upper Creek.
Now I can show some pictures of Upper Creek canyon which is downstream from Burnthouse Camp about a half mile. Here is Blade and Mitten at the top start of the gorge.
Here’s Johnny and Chet hanging out at the top of the gorge and showing downstream into the canyon.
Johnny and I return to Babaji Point and hang out at the edge of the cliff. I am obviously holding on for dear life.
Here’s a typical Upper Creek swimhole.
Johnny B found himself a swimhole. We call this spot the Beatrice Pools in honor of a fellow backpacker to the area.
If you follow Upper Creek trail past Burnthouse Camp you ford the creek one time and parallel it on the left bank and reach this awesome flat rock jutting out into the creek which I call the Moss Rock. A great place to swim and hang.
There are a thousand pools and Little Mitten finds herself one upstream from the Moss Rock.
Behind Burnthouse Camp there is a 100 foot waterfall and at the top it has a rock ledge with all the water flowing thru moss. Another great place and another jewel in the Pisgah crown.
PUSHING THE WIMMIN AWAY—Old Pisgah hand Amal (trailname Willow when she hiked the AT) shows up on a Piz trip and me and her and shunka dog and Johnny B hang out on the Moss Rock. I have to fight her off.
In 2006 Johnny B and I pull another Pisgah trip and we start out on the trail in with Johnny humping his usual load.
WHERE THE GIRLS WEEP AND THE MEN SHUDDER—Here I am at the start of Heartbreak Ridge where the trail climbs a rugged path.
At the top of Heartbreak hill we find this friendly rattlesnake standing guard at the gateway into the holy land.
Pisgah gets updated with a Hilleberg tent. This is at Burnthouse Camp with Upper Creek behind.
All trips must end, even Pisgah ones, and so here is Johnny cinching up his Kelty internal and preparing to hike. This shows Burnthouse Camp well and a glimpse of the high waterfall behind.
Upper Creek 268A comes out on an old logging cut and near the Beatrice Pools of Upper Creek, behind Johnny. In the old days you could drive here and park but the forest service wisely closed it off.
If you cross Upper Creek in the above pic with Johnny you’ll reach a side creek called Ripshin which is shown here. It’s the nutbuster of the Piz and both Johnny and I have had hell rides up it over the years with stories of blood, confusion, ripped clothing, lost maps, orange crawdads and a big snake guarding the entrance. I am standing at the start of Ripshin Creek as it jcts Upper Creek. Do not attempt!
And so ends my Pisgah thread.