Wednesday, November 30, 2011
On Sunday we went out to Camp Alta Mons in Shawsville to hike up to Stiles Falls, a 45 foot waterfall. The hike is about a 45 minute, moderate walk along the river, which you need to cross over a few times but there are rocks you can hop on like a little bridge.
On the way back from the falls, we spotted 3 baby bears in the river as we were crossing and could hear the momma bear somewhere above us on the hill in the woods growling. We had to cross over the river to get back on the trail and unfortunately the babies went the same direction as us and then climbed up a tree. We had to walk right past the tree where the babies were, with momma somewhere to the right of us, I'm sure keeping an eye on all of us. We made lots of noise by yelling (all 6 of us!) to keep her away from us as we went along our way. It worked, we didn't see her but got great views of the babies. I wish I could have stopped to get a better picture but I don't think that would have been a great idea lol...Anyways, in this photo you can make out 2 of the babies up in the tree. The 3rd baby had climbed down and ran off into the woods. Such an awesome experience to see them!
Linking to Watery Wednesday
And a brief history of how the falls got its name:
How the Water Falls at Camp
Alta Mons Received it’s Name
The earliest recorded name for the 45 ft. water falls is Purgatory Falls. This early name comes from a stenciled photo of a late nineteenth century travel log magazine. Purgatory Creek flows from several springs of a Floyd Co. mountain watershed above the falls. Once over the falls the creek enters Montgomery Co., twists and turns through the present property of Camp Alta Mons; a year round, 875 acre camp and retreat facility for the United Methodist Church of the Roanoke District. Formerly, the property was part of the Pearman Farm and Crockett Springs Resort dating back to the 1890’s.
The early day resort hosted wealthy families who wanted to travel to the mountains in order to escape the crowded cities’ heat and epidemics of various ills of that day. In order to attract folks, the resort management would invite Civil War celebrities and heroes, both Confederate and Yankee. Following is the story about how the falls became Stiles Falls.
From The New Messenger, Dec. 19, 1968:
“During the Civil War the Merrimac was blown up in Chesapeake Bay by her own crew to prevent the ship from falling into the hands of the Yankees. Randolph Stiles was the first officer of the Merrimac. He saved the ship’s log and later gave it to the Valentine Museum in Richmond. While with a group of young people in Montgomery County, the story records, Randolph tried to swing across Purgatory Creek on a grapevine where the water plunges over some rocks and was killed. The falls has since been known as Stiles Falls.”