A Short Guide on How to Make Montana’s Unprecedented Flooding About My Asheville Exploring

On May 30, I wrote a piece for the Asheville Citizen Times about the role homophobia played in Madison Cawthorn’s defeat. It was an interesting piece to write—I was thrilled Cawthorn was taken down and happy the powers that did so played dirty, but disappointed at the “why” they felt they had to use—but ultimately one I was proud of, so felt good when a few different friends texted me the following week to inform me that Yahoo News had picked it up. 

As proud as I was of the piece and the exposure, the commentary response was primarily negative, mostly telling me I was making a mountain of a molehill, with many telling me how I make everything about myself. Per Yahoo commenter “Scott,”

“‘Pat Brothwell says most politicians are self-absorbed, but few are as blatant about it as Madison Cawthorn.’ Is the irony lost on me alone that Brothwell had to make Cawthorn’s defeat about himself, with the above statement and below a large picture of himself? Talk about self-absorbed!”

  1. I don’t choose the photo that runs with the piece, Scott. The Citizen Times does, and for opinion pieces, they go with contributor headshots. 
  2. I guess I’ll just lean into this then. 

Topically, I was reading about the devastating flooding Montana is currently experiencing on Yahoo news this morning. I’m a sucker for natural disaster footage. I don’t necessarily love this about myself since natural disasters destroy homes and lives, but I’d much rather be in awe of the power of nature than someone whose personality is “OMG, I LOVE SERIAL KILLERZ BC IM QUIRKY WEIRD AND DARK!.” I was particularly enamored with the footage of this house being washed away.

Though most of the footage I saw was around the town of Gardiner, the scenery reminded me of Big Sky, where my brother, cousin, and I spent four great days two years ago during a Covid tour of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. Since I like to make everything about me and spent some time in Big Sky, but all the footage was from Gardiner, I decided to Google “Flooding in Big Sky Montana” in the hopes that I could see somewhere I’ve been.

The internet did not disappoint. 

YouTube showed me a video of Ousel Falls in Big Sky, a somewhat tranquil waterfall I happened to hike to and swim under during our visit. The video is pretty crazy, with the water being so high, the fall resembles just a river from some angles and reminded me of something else I experienced recently during recent heavy rains here in Western North Carolina. 

Here’s a photo of my cousin Casey in Ousel Falls.

My brother was down to visit this past Memorial Day weekend. I’d taken Friday off work, and our initial plan was to hike Cold Mountain, but the rain was so bad on my way down to pick him up from the Greenville Airport that I had to stop driving at several points and just wait things out. It rained the entire drive back and through the night—when I woke up at 6 AM, the rain was just tapering off, so we decided to push Cold Mountain to Saturday so we didn’t have to contend with eleven miles of sliding in the mud, and hit two of my favorite waterfall hikes instead. 

The first was the Triple Falls Loop. The last time I’d been there, a gentleman I’d run into told me how cool it was to witness the falls after a rainstorm. He was correct. Both the High Falls and Triple falls seemed to…, and I’m sorry for this…triple in size due to the previous day’s rain. Typically, you can get almost right to the base of Triple Falls, but not that day (although, to be fair, we were still able to get somewhat close). I’ll post some pictures below, but I doubt it will do any justice to just how massive and crazy the falls were in person. As the aforementioned gentleman shared with me, I highly recommend checking them out during a rainstorm—however, practice caution. We didn’t get in the water the same way I might on a nice day and were generally overly cautious about avoiding anywhere that felt like it could be unsafe. 

Triple Falls after a heavy rain.

The second hike we did was the Rainbow Falls/Turtleback Falls out and back loop that’s becoming one of my favorite places to take visitors due to Turtleback Falls’ sliding capabilities (we were under no illusion we’d be sliding after visiting Triple Falls). The rain-based waterfall transformations in the Dupont State Forest were impressive but had nothing on Rainbow Falls. 

The final ascent to Rainbow Falls is a staircase under the forest canopy before reaching the cleared overlook above the plunge pool. While it was rainy the day before, our Friday had been sunny so far, so we were disappointed to see rain once we got in sight of the clearing. We waited a couple of minutes, hoping it would pass quickly since there was no rain in the forecast, then just figured, screw it, we’d get wet, and continued forward. We didn’t just get wet, we got soaked through, and not by what we’d misidentified as rain, but was the water from the plunge pool being driven up and onto the viewing platform by the new, sheer force of the waterfall. 

Rainbow Falls didn’t appear to be going down. It seemed to be shooting straight out, completely obliterating what’s usually one of the larger plunge pools on the WNC waterfall circuit. People overuse the term “a wall of water,” but that’s precisely what it was. Again, I’ll include photos below, but none of the images of short videos I took do the reality anything close to justice. 

And that, Scott, is how to make national headlines all about yourself.

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