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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:23 AM   #1
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Default Lower Higgins Creek to Buzzard Rock

Took the dogs for a longish hike out at Rocky Fork this past Saturday. Have enjoyed a number of hikes in this fine Wilderness Area this year, but have never tried to connect from Lower Higgins Creek (NE corner of the wilderness) to Buzzard Rock (NW corner of the wilderness area). It was a bright clear cool day, perfect for a good long walk!
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:25 AM   #2
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Lower Higgins Creek is usually a rollicking stream full of riffles and many small falls. But autumn is our dry season - the creek was just lovely trickles. This made the numerous creek crossings much easier than usual, and made for some very different views of the creek itself.
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:26 AM   #3
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The biggest waterfall along the creek is about a mile from the start of this hike. It's close to 100' tall, and usually roaring with water. Saturday it was just a soft flow...
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:28 AM   #4
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After several miles, the trail leaves the creek valley and begins ascending the ridges. Was surprised to see some gentian still in bloom along the ridgeline. Was also pleased to see lots of Witch Hazel coming into bloom.
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:28 AM   #5
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Great images of the falls in the fall, Mole!
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:29 AM   #6
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One of the goals of this trip was to locate more populations of a rare shrub. We found the right habitat, but not the shrub..

We did find some unique mt species though, including Mt Maple and Dutchman's Pipe vine.
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:33 AM   #7
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Another goal of the trip was to find a different route to Buckeye Falls - a 700' high waterfall in nearby Sampson Mt Wilderness area. We did find a good route, but did not have enough time to check it out. Will plan to return in late winter (when water is much higher) and falls will be much more impressive.

This route involved locating Wilson Knob - a high point at the edge of Unicoi and Greene counties. We did find the knob, although not the correct side trail to it!

There's a fine old field at Wilson Knob - still a few goldenrods blooming, but most gone to seed...
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:37 AM   #8
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From Wilson Knob to Buzzard Rock the trail mostly followed the ridgeline - great walking, great views, and, surprisingly, did not see any bears! (We usually spot several, and I intentionally kept my A* 300 lens on, just to be prepared).

The view from Buzzard Rock really appeals to me, because it is one place where you can look and see no signs of civilization. Here you are looking back across the sweeo of Rocky Fork wilderness, with no signs of roads, habitations... not even cell phone towers! (and, as far as I could tell on that day, no other hikers.)
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:39 AM   #9
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It was already mid-afternoon by the time we got to Buzzard Rock, and about 7-8 miles of hiking before we got back. So I picked up the pace by putting the camera away... Missed a few good shots that way, but got back before dark!

Hope I am not boring you with too many hikes lately, and that you enjoyed this fine 15 mile hike into a great wilderness area. Thanks for any comments & critique!
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Old Oct 25, 2010, 6:44 AM   #10
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The last views are amazing, great colors. We don't get anything like this here in England, here everything just gets yellow. I've seen something like this in september in Connecticut few years ago, but there was a lot of civilization there. Your views are much nicer.

Greg
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