Pack up, explore, close camp, drive, hike.
It’s on the cool side when we wake up, low 50s, and it might have gotten into the upper 40s to lower 50s during the night.
We make breakfast and slowly start to pack up camp. We pack everything up except the Paha Que just in case we get some weather. We take a drive to “Parry Spring Artesian Well,” an “EarthCache,” to explore a bit. This is an artesian spring well, with cool fresh water flowing constantly. We filled up several liter containers for our hikes later in the day. My rough estimate was that a one liter jug filled up in about 8 seconds, which means 4 liters, or about a gallon, in 32 seconds. Elaine pointed out though that there was a lot of spillage during that test as the flow was bigger than the neck of the water container, so it is flowing at a constant rate of at least 2 gallons a minute.
Information on the geocache web site is that this well is still running “many years after the closing of the Parry Family Dairy Farm.” If you can see in the background behind the fence, that’s a very wet area and the artesian water is just seeping up through the ground to the surface back there.
Usually one or the other of us is holding the camera so we don’t often have pictures we’re both in. But, there was a fairly constant flow also of local people at the Spring while we were there. Filling water bottles, some filling multiple carboys and saying they have been coming here regularly for their drinking water, only drink this water, etc. So one of the local folk offered to take our picture. He also told us that the County inspects the Spring water about four times a year and the most recent inspection reconfirmed it to be fine. It was cool, in fact so cool that almost a two hours later after another it was still cool after having been in the water bottle in the truck. It had a very clean taste, no off chemical or mineral tastes. Next time maybe we will bring our own carboy and collect enough to brew a batch of beer from it!
After we collected our water, we went back to camp and finished breaking camp, taking down the Paha Que and doing the final load-up of the truck. On the way out of the area we drive to the HQ and Visitor Center which has an excellent interpretive center including local Indian history. One of the backpacking campsites is about a 0.4 mi hike, so we hike up what we realize on the way back might be an esker to get out to the campsite. The wood shelter has about a 15 x 20 foot floor space, certainly enough to spread out camp and sleep under, but not exactly the kind of backpacking-in camping we would like to try. It’s at a high point on the trail with a view that looks out over the Emma Carlin Trail where we hiked yesterday. We can see the South Branch of the Scuppernong from here.
After this little excursion, we then start the drive home, taking our time. One excursion at Bald Bluff, “one of the highest points in Jeffeson County” (1050). We hike up to the top and have lunch there. Here are a couple views from the top.
It is never easy coming out of the countryside like this back to the asphalt. We want to take as much time as we can. The dogs, on the other hand, are exhausted and I think will be happy to get home.