Finding the falls

I really hate to break the news but they’ve moved Whitewater Falls. No, I’m not making this up. We know they’ve moved it because we went up to Jocassee with the express purpose of kayaking up to Whitewater Falls, and it was 6-25 Page 4A.inddnowhere to be found.

And, what’s more, we looked pretty carefully at the large map mounted near the boat ramp, and it clearly indicated where Whitewater Falls was located.

Someone, maybe the park ranger if they have one, had stuck little silver stars onto the map to indicate where all the water falls are around the lake. There’s a printed legend that identifies the different falls.

Not only did we consult the map, we also asked someone at the boat ramp who looked knowledgeable about waterfalls, and he told us that finding the falls was simple.

He pointed out into the lake to the left of the ramp and told us to just paddle out to the left and when we got to the big island we should go to the left. This would take us up into the Whitewater River, and we’d soon come to the falls.

He was driving a truck with a boat rental logo on the side and had just finished instructing four people, probably tourists, on how to operate the two jet skis they were on.

They were obviously tourists, not talented map readers like we were.

He was also kind enough to direct us to another boat ramp designated for use by kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized boats.

We were at the wrong ramp, because it was labeled boat ramp. The proper ramp for us was the day boat ramp. This was somewhat puzzling to us.

We thought if one ramp was labeled day boat ramp that logically the other ramp should be labeled night boat ramp, but clearly we weren’t as savvy as we thought.

However, we did reload the kayaks into the back of the truck and succeeded in raising the tailgate — no small matter, as we had to hold the kayaks up at the same time. This was not a one-man job. Some well-brought-up young men had earlier offered to help us unload, but as we were bent on independence we at first declined their assistance until we discovered that the prow of one of our kayaks was stuck underneath the toolbox and we couldn’t dislodge it. So we then sheepishly accepted the offered help.

We relocated to the proper ramp, unloaded again and departed for Whitewater Falls. We followed the directions we’d been given by our expert but found we weren’t really sure that what we were seeing in the far distance was actually an island. It could have been a peninsula. It was hard to tell.

There did seem to be some current, so we thought that must have been coming from the Whitewater River. We paddled against the current, cut to the left and after about 15 minutes found ourselves in a cove. There was no sign identifying the cove, but we did see a rock projecting from the edge of the water that bore a startling resemblance to the Sphinx with a portion of the head missing. We found a small but lovely shallow area with a narrow strip of sandy beach. The water was crystal clear. But alas, Whitewater Falls was not there.

We ate some of our delicious cheese crackers, drank some water and waded. It was beautiful. Although it looked like an untouched spot, we noticed some large primitive drawings on the side of the cliff. Sadly, these weren’t ancient rock carvings as we hoped, but recent sketches of either human heads or possibly hippopotamus portraits. You could go either way on that.

As we departed the cove, we encountered a young couple in a canoe. We asked them if they knew where Whitewater Falls was. They said they had also looked for the falls but couldn’t find them. And they had a friend with direct knowledge of where the falls were “supposed to be.”

That’s when we realized the falls had been moved. It’s the only explanation, since the map and two sources of direction were wrong.

We decided to strike out across the cove to see what was on the other side and had made good progress when we noticed dark clouds forming behind one of the mountain tops to our left.

We decided to head back. There are too many horror stories about people getting trapped on the lake during storms and seeking shelter anywhere they can find it or capsizing miles from shore. We paddled valiantly, and although it was challenging we beat the storm and safely returned to the ramp.

We haven’t given up our quest to find Whitewater Falls. We will try again. All we have to do is discover where they put it, and then finding it will not present a problem.