Loretta Falls & Warm Fuzzy Feelings

Some people don’t like my waterfalls book. They think I shouldn’t have given directions to all those waterfalls for the world to see. I wrote about this in the book, so I won’t get too deeply into it here. What I want to do here is talk about all those waterfalls that I DIDN’T tell you about in the book.

Now, don’t start salivating. I’m not going to give you any directions. Just because I wrote a guidebook describing 600 North Carolina waterfalls doesn’t mean that I sacrificed my environmental ethics. Yes, I told you about some places that few people know about, but that is only a drop in the plunge pool compared to what I didn’t tell you. Also, my waterfall buddies, especially Rich Stevenson and Bernie Boyer, continue to discover new waterfalls that very few people know about. I even manage to stumble on a few new ones myself on a regular basis. But you won’t hear about many of these discoveries because we have a line we simply won’t cross.

Why am I telling you this? Is this my way of dealing with guilt from exposing all those waterfalls in my book? Truth is, I don’t have any guilt about that. Admittedly, there are a few falls that in hindsight I should have left out, but I’m not beating myself up over it. My mission here is to encourage all of you to make discoveries for yourself. It’s fine to use my book or the information from Rich’s ncwaterfalls.com website and explore waterfalls, but I promise you the most fun you’ll have is discovering things on your own. Find your own waterfalls, forests, scenic viewpoints, and creek settings. It may seem like there is nothing left to discover, and you’re probably right that you won’t find anything that someone else hasn’t already seen at some point in history. But you can sure find things that few people have seen and even some things that probably no one has seen in decades or maybe even centuries. And what a thrill that is!

Loretta Falls in Nantahala National Forest
Loretta Falls in Nantahala National Forest

The photo of Loretta Falls in a remote section of Nantahala National Forest is a good example. It’s one I found from studying topo maps. It wasn’t indicated on the map, but the contour lines suggested that a waterfall was there. Rich and I checked it out early one spring. The rhododendron understory in the old-growth forest was so dense we had to wade through the creek until we got to the top of the falls, and from there we had to make a brutal bushwhack down the bank to reach the base. As best as we could tell, no one had been down there in decades. We both vowed to keep it that way.

There’s something special about knowing Loretta Falls is there, that probably only a handful of locals even know it exists. I like to envision it looking the same a hundred years from now. Sadly, that won’t be the case, as the huge old-growth trees growing around the base are eastern hemlocks. I suspect they are already dying or dead from attacks by the hemlock wooly adelgid. If not, they soon will be. So my only solace is that I was able to see it before the adelgid struck, when the waterfall looked like it must have looked hundreds of years ago.

Find your own Loretta Falls. It’ll give you a warm fuzzy feeling all over.

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One Response to “Loretta Falls & Warm Fuzzy Feelings”

  1. Sai C Says:

    Great find! And an inspiring story to go with it…Now I just need to ask you where to get started with reading a topo map :)…Of course i’m going to do a Google search and see what I come up with..

    Thanks for sharing Kevin..if I find some secret spots here in the Big Easy I’ll sure share it in Yahoo groups 🙂

    Take care!

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