Last week, I hiked 1.5 miles along a primitive trail with a fellow hiker who was kind enough to show me the way to this secret spot. He had hiked this trail a couple of times but not since the recent hurricanes. Many trees were down along the way and the creek was flowing very fast. To get to Dill Falls, in the Nantahala Forest, you have to make three stream crossings, but I had lots of camera gear and my guide was not confident that we could make it across all three crossings without getting quite wet and possibly slipping. After we enjoyed this spot for awhile, we ended up backtracking and driving to the falls.
Here is another image from just below where we decided to go around. It was such a wild and natural creek back there and flowing fast enough that the water was likely clean. I still get nervous whenever my dog drinks out of a stream, after living in Florida and him almost dying from toxic water.
You can see from the image above how many trees fell during the hurricane, many crossing the entire width of the creek. Needless to say, the trail was blocked in many places and we got a workout jumping over or crawling under limbs and clearing dead trees. On the other hand, we didn't see a single soul and the forest looked very healthy if in disarray.
I so enjoyed being in this pristine wilderness and wondered how the ecosystems were thriving and producing nutrients in this totally unspoiled riffles.
Back by the small, unmarked parking area I ventured over to the creek one last time and was met by this beautiful and inviting view. The rocks in the Blue Ridge are between 600 million and 1.2 billion years old. This ecosystem has been thriving for a long time and standing here made me feel part of our planet's historical evolution, which is becoming increasingly threatend in most places. Here, though the impacts of acid rain are felt in the higher elevations of the mountains, there is still so much biodiversity. To me, it is an example of what we should hope to maintain on this earth to support all the creatures we share the planet with as well as our health and the viability of our species.
Dill Falls was magnificent. My guide said he had never seen it with so much water. There were many fallen trees, some old and some new. When trees fall in the woods, especially in moist areas, they provide structure for many ecosystems to flourish.
On my drive out for the hike, I passed many views in the fog. I loved the mystery of this one, with the asters and small patches of sunlight on the fall foliage beneath the rolling fog. As usual, I was struck by the incredible diversity of life forms and vegetation.