4th Annual Thanksgiving Morning Waterfall Hunt

Four years ago a friend gave me a hiking guide book to waterfalls in SC and eastern GA. At the time we were living here without family and I declared a new family tradition: every Thanksgiving we would choose a new waterfall to find and spend the morning hiking. Once my family decided to relocate here, we kept up the tradition by spending the morning hiking and working up an appetite for my mom’s wonderful dinner. Every year the pictures at the falls are my favorites of any I’ve taken.

This year I picked Kings Creek Falls in Wallhalla and we were not disappointed. I believe this was the best one yet!

I love old, moss covered trail signs

What makes these even more interesting is that the book gives only basic directions usually from a random seeming intersection of two main roads. Finding the trail head is typically half the battle.

My three boys tackling the leaf covered, narrow trail

The book is typically really good at giving trail directions from the trail head though and so far the descriptions are pretty spot on.

The entire trail was covered in roots. I was really proud of how well Wyatt navigated the trail on his own. 

The weather was pretty chilly Thanksgiving morning at around 40F, but once the sun decided to come out the world righted itself and we all warmed up.

I love this photo of him!

What has been sort of sad is that each year our canine companions have changed. Since beginning this tradition we have lost both Hero and Bones and gained Einstein and Waggy Tails. This was Wags’ first waterfall hunt and she had a blast.

Einstein lost all his off leash privileges this year.  He will always come back when we call him, but he hikes by maintaining a large circle around us, never staying on trail. It is due to his hunting breeding. We have tried for 3 years and have never been able to get him to stick to the trail or parallel to it. 

Wyatt is a pretty awesome little hiker these days. He has gone up to 3 miles on up to moderate intensity trails no issue. Once he gets bigger and is able to go farther we wills tart to plan overnight excursions.

This was a really neat little wooden bridge. Waggy has no concept of edges (she falls off the couch and our bed routinely) and when I stopped on the bridge to take a picture she tried to bulldoze through and fell off it! Thankfully she wasn’t hurt. 

This hike was 1.4 miles round trip which was a bit shorter than we would have liked, but ended up with enough difficulty that we went pretty slow. Any farther and we would have been late for dinner!

As we made out way upstream and got closer to the falls, I began wondering what they would be like. The book provides a picture but it isn’t the best and you just never know. I was figuring there would at least be water in it with the wet year we have been having. Last year we were really nervous with the wildfire burning all around us and the severe drought.

The cascades coming downstream from the main falls. Seeing this much water made me really excited.

The trail itself started to get really muddy the farther upstream we went too. All were really good signs that there would be water at the top.

Wyatt did really good at navigating the slippery sections

In fact, I was beginning to wonder if it had rained there while being dry back at home as all the leaves were pretty damp.

He insisted on doing it all by himself too

And then we rounded a bend in the trail, climbed over a few tall rocks and past a fallen tree and saw this:

Kings Creek Falls

It took my breath away to be honest.

One of my all-time favorite pictures now!

The waterfall had created a bowl of rock around it with the sounds echoing back onto itself. There were so many small crevices and side falls created in the wall of stone that the overall effect was a water song that went right through me.

We let Einstein off at the falls figuring he would hang out around us there no problem and he enjoyed the time to swim and play with Waggy. He is a natural born swimmer and can’t stay out of the water.

poor dog started shivering in the icy cold water though
Waggy on the other hand hates water and barely lets her feet get wet. 

We have learned over the years to bring a back pack with a towel and a complete change of clothes for Wyatt as there i son way to keep him out of the water.

The boys all learned that the water was icy pretty quickly and didn’t stay in too long this year

After he played around in the water, we snapped the obligatory family photo in front of the falls. Comparing how big he is getting each year is always fun for me. Someday i’ll make a little book with all the pictures in it and give it to him. Maybe when he graduates high school.

All three kiddos played for about 15 or 20 minutes before they got too cold to enjoy it anymore. At that point we dried Wyatt off and changed him to start the hike back to the car.

The sun decided to make its way over the mountains on our way back and it warmed up 20 degrees as we made our way to the car. The sun felt really good on our cold hands and toes.

I love the look on his face. No clue what he was thinking about and I am not sure I want to know
Waggy is getting so big

We made it back to the car without incident, got home for warm showers and off to my mom’s for dinner. This tradition is one I look forward to all year long and I am already trying to plot out next year’s adventure. Soon we will run out of waterfalls close enough to get to without either waking up insanely early or camping overnight. Then the whole game changes 🙂