A little more than 8 miles south of Rockbrook along US276, the state line between North and South Carolina forms the eastern continental divide, at an elevation of 2910 feet. On the South Carolina side we have the Atlantic Seaboard watershed, where all the creeks and streams flow down toward the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. The North Carolina side of the continental divide sends its water north, eventually turning west, meeting the Mississippi River and emptying into the Gulf of Mexico almost 2000 miles later.
Most of our waters here in Transylvania County, including the 2 waterfalls on the Rockbrook Property (Stick Biscuit Falls and Rockbrook Falls), flow into the French Broad river as in flows toward Asheville. East of camp is tributary of the French Broad called the “Little River,” which is a complicated creek that winds north through the Dupont State Forest. Gaining volume as it flows, it’s responsible for several of Dupont’s more spectacular waterfalls— High Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls. After the it drops over Hooker Falls, the river widens to form a narrow lake called “Cascade Lake” stretching about a mile and a half from the falls to the dam on the northern end.
This morning, a group of ten campers, led by Thea and Clyde, took a canoe trip along Cascade Lake, paddling all the way up to Hooker falls and back. They had perfect weather making their way along the beautiful waters of the lake. There was time for a brief swim to cool off at the base of the falls, as well. Clyde even packed everyone a muffin from camp, successfully recharging everyone before the paddle back to the put in. To think this water makes it all the way to New Orleans, it’s really a special experience to paddle this clear mountain lake.
Meanwhile back at camp, “Big Samantha,” the affectionate nickname of our water slide, was hurtling campers out into the lake during free swim. The ride is 150-feet long and begins at the top of a 50-foot tower accessed by walking along the boardwalk on the far side of the lake. The slide is made of vinyl tarp material draped between two parallel cables. With a little water spraying it from above, the slope down to the lake is slick, and the splash at the bottom is powerful. It’s a guaranteed thrill! It’s a quick swim over to the ladders, and an easy— now wet, drippy— walk back around the boardwalk, and up the tower steps for another slide. Some girls just need more than one ride down Big Samantha each day. It’s simply that fun!
Tying on a blindfold before climbing is not something you see very often. Over at our Alpine Tower, however, there are girls who do exactly that; before they climb someone ties a bandana tightly around their eyes so they can’t see. Obviously this makes climbing much more difficult because you have to feel the next move— handhold to grab, or cable to step on —rather than see it. The climbers know the general direction to go (up!), and with occasional help from friends on the ground calling out hints, blindfolded climbing is a fun challenge. It’s amazing to watch too. The girls grope with their hands, and whenever possible stand on whatever knob, handhold, rope or cable they find. Confidently standing up, trusting your feet, is the key to making progress. I recently watched a Middler climb the entire 50-foot tower, blindfolded, in about 6 minutes. Incredible!
Not a day goes by that we’re not impressed by the enthusiasm, zest and talent displayed by the campers here. It appears in bold ways like this climbing ability, but perhaps more so in small things… dressing up in a spontaneous costume for dinner, non-stop lap swimming during free swims before lunch, easily managing the complexities of a 3-foot floor loom, or just accompanying a cabin mate on a trip to the dining hall for muffin break. The girls now know what to do at camp, and are happily doing it. All these girls, being great girls, in all these ways: it adds up to a beautiful spirit. It is completely wonderful.