Thursday, February 4, 2010

Out of Sight

Sometimes, a trail offers incentives to keep going and going. Such is the case on the trail to Panther Creek on the border between Habersham and Rabun counties in northeast Georgia.
Along the 3.5-mile trek to Panther Creek Falls, Panther Creek keeps hikers company. The creek undulates below narrow ledges and adjacent to flat, wide-open forest trails.
The view pictured here was taken when a ledge trail split into the high road and low road. I took the low road. I'm glad I did. After hiking this lower trail for a short distance, the forest opened, providing a clear view and path down to rocks. I slid, gripping roots, to my destination. Panther Creek was cascading to a 15-20 foot drop. I snapped multiple shots. Flat rocks tempted me to go closer. A voice in my head said no: Remember the news stories of hikers slipping on rocks and falling to their fate. I stood my ground before climbing back to the trail and a return to the high road in pursuit of my ultimate destination: Panther Creek Falls. I walked for more than an hour. When I came upon a nice cascade between rocks, I paused, snapped some pictures and resumed my hike. About 30 minutes later, I began to have doubts. Had I passed the falls? Was it nearby? Should I keep going? When the trail approached a flooded creek, my decision was made. Turn back, I said. When I approached the cascade, I realized that this was my destination. Nice place. I sat on a rock, snapped more pictures and thought about the image pictured here. Panther Creek Falls was the destination. The first cascade was the prize.
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