The Carolinas are fondly referred to as ‘The Mother Load of Waterfalls’ by some of the less delicate waterfall chasers operating within the bounds of the United States. Those of us who call Carolina home simply know that ours is a land of waterfalls. Geologists shout after us that this is because of ’the carolina escarpment,’ where the mountains fall away dramatically into the Piedmont flat-lands creating plenty of opportunity for white water runoff. But we don’t really care why, so much. We just can’t wait to catch the spray on our faces of yet another of these natural wonders.
The Appalachian Mountains have been wearing away for eons, say these same geologists, from a time when they once stood high as the mighty Rockies to the west. Nowadays the tallest peaks of America’s eastern spine stoop low like foothills in comparison to those mighty youngsters of the western Rockies. If you like your mountains rolling and carpeted with trees, then the Appalachians are the ones for you, but if you like your waterfalls gigantic and free falling, then your preference won’t come often here in the land of waterfalls. Cascades and slides are far more common. I can’t speak for anyone else but when I stumble upon a hundred foot free fall, I think maybe its time to set up camp and linger for a spell.
Rainbow Falls of Cleveland South Carolina is a 100 foot free fall over lovely black and tan granite cliffs (actually layers of amphibolites gneiss, granitic gneiss, and mica schist for those geological sticklers amongst us). She resides above the Saluda River on YMCA property and overlooking the sprawling beauty of the Mountain Bridge State Park (home to the lovely Raven Cliffs Falls). It’s a leg stretching two and a half mile hike out of Jones Gap State Park to see her. You’ll climb through a thousand feet of elevation change in the last 1.6 miles of it, but it’s oh so worth it, I think you’ll agree. Remember, you gotta be in decent physical shape or you’ll make a false prognosticator out of me because these are mountain miles in the true sense of the word (one mountain mile is equivalent to four flatlander miles).
This foreground image hosts an unnamed cascade located about 40 meters below the free falling Rainbow Falls seen here in the background. I arrived fairly early in the morning, before the sun could round the bend and pitch a contrasting mix of light upon her face. I spent the better part of the day there communing within a granite cathedral and bathed in a subtlety that swells the heart and uplifts the mind. She was a lovely hostess, ever willing to impress in ways unforeseen. Even with the sun’s glaring arrival there was a nice surprise as she unveiled for yet another day the prismatic fringes of her lacey gown – the rainbow for which she is named. ©Miles A Moody All rights reserved for both written and photographic works.
Nikon D90, 20 mm, F/22, ISO 200, NDx400 filter (YMCA Camp Greenville, Cleveland, SC USA)