It’s Good to Have a Dream

I know I’m supposed to be talking about hiking but sometimes it is good to talk about something else.

As we get older, we start to experience death in the generation before us.  We even start to experience it in our generation.  Hopefully this makes us thoughtful.  Specifically in my case it makes me think about how short life really is and how much of it we spend being afraid.  We all have fears but I have come to realize that we need to push past those fears because we really have nothing to lose when the end result is the same for all of us.  If we let fear hold us back from accomplishment, then we have failed to live fully the one life that is given to us.

20150221_113557I’ve also learned too that it is good to have a dream, of something we want to be or something we want to accomplish. Whether or not we actually attain our dream is something else but if we strive for it, we will be a lot closer to it than if we never started.

I can’t tell you how to live but I can tell you not to wait to start examining your life and your fears and find the courage to face them and take the next step. Live your life fully and happily unencumbered by the regret of not having tried to go after what you want.

And if you fail, so what?  Pick yourself up and find yourself a new dream and keep moving forward. You only have one life! This is it.

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Chattooga River Trail (Georgia): Dicks Creek Falls to Hippie Beach and Back

Yesterday we hiked with Upstate Hiking on the Chattooga River.  We parked right before the ford on Sandy Ford Road and hiked in on the trail that heads south towards the river. Much of this trail follows Dicks Creek and had lots of greenery on its banks even though it is still winter in Georgia.  This trail comes out right at the Chattooga Trail and there is signage here.  If you continue on straight downhill, you will run into Dicks Creek Falls and Ledge.DSC04635  This is a beautiful spot on the river with a nice view of the ledge from the top of the waterfall.DSC04641

DSC04642Take great care if you stop here as these spots are always dangerous.

The group spent about 15 minutes here taking pictures and wandering around.  I continued down the trail and around the corner by the river as I wanted to see where it went.  Just more river there but you never know. It was a very sunny day and hard to take good photos but we did get a few.

We returned back up the trail to meet up with the Chattooga River Trail and headed west towards Hippie Beach.  It is approximately 3.9 miles from this intersection.  The trail was rolling as I’ve come to find out it is for much of its distance.  We intersected Sandy Ford Road again on the trail and at that point we took a detour down the road to the River. If you hike with me, you know I am all into exploratory. I figure we may never get back! There is a parking lot for several cars there, a nice sandy beach, and a place in the river they call “Double Drop.” DSC04652 We wandered down the river trying to see if there was any trail to the Narrows but nothing promising. DSC04656A few people found some rocks to stand on in middle of the river.

Someone spotted what they thought was a trail that went uphill but it wasn’t. Miss D volunteered to see if she could find a trail and headed up. It turned out to be an old forest road so the rest of the group followed her uphill, and we took it back to Sandy Ford Road which was a very short distance away.

Continuing uphill on the dirt road, we returned to the intersection of the road and trail and headed west.  Some way down the trail, I could hear what I think was the Narrows which we have visited before from the South Carolina side but there was no visible way to get down there from the trail.DSC04659  At one point, I spotted a small waterfall on a feeder stream and took this photo. DSC04654

The group finally stopped about 1:30 p.m. for lunch.  We are not positive that what we found was Hippie Beach but there were two nice campsites divided by a small stream with a bridge crossing. It’s called Hippie Beach because it is said a group of hippies lived here at one time. You could get several small tents on each site and a few hammocks but that’s about it. DSC04661What might have once been a beach was overgrown. Several of us decided to sit on the river on some rocks for lunch. After lunch, a few of us wandered across the bridge just to check it out.  This was our turn around point.

The group returned back the way we came. At one point, we met some hikers from the Charleston meetup and had a nice conversation about their upcoming backpacking trip to the area.  DSC04666We did see another small group of hikers earlier in the day, and 2 other hikers. That was like running into a crowd on this trail.  The few other times we have hiked it we have had it mostly to ourselves with a few exceptions.DSC04664DSC04655

It’s a pretty hike and about 8.8 miles approximately not including the detour.

Hike:  In and Out

Difficulty :  Difficult due to mileage

Mileage:  About 9.6 miles (including detours)

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Timms Mill, Pendleton, SC

Mr. T and I decided to take a ride in the country last Saturday. It was supposed to be a not so nice day but it turned out to be very sunny and beautiful here in South Carolina. I love to combine history and hiking when I can and am always looking for places that might be interesting.  A Google search turned up a place called Timms Mill which is a restored working gristmill out in Pendleton, SC so we got in the car and headed out.


The mill itself is located on Timms Creek which when we arrived was actually a pretty decent size creek with a steady flow of water.  I understand that in the summer it can get pretty dry but in January it was flowing very well.

The water to power the mill is actually pumped under the road and down a wooden sluice where it hits a bright green water wheel to power the grinding and sorting machines inside.DSC04601 Dave (the owner) was very friendly and invited us in. Dave very patiently explained how the machines work and let us wander around. DSC04596They only grind corn on Saturday and sell grits and corn meal to small, local stores that carry food products.  There are still a few locals that bring their corn to the mill to grind.  As you can imagine, there was a lot of dust from the corn grinding so I mostly kept my camera covered while I was inside.

Bill, a friend of Dave’s, who also helped with the mill restoration, shared stories about the mill with us making this a very nice experience.DSC04594DSC04592

They tell me that the first Saturday in December they have an open house where they have a bluegrass band and sell cider and corn products. DSC04600Lots of people come for the music and to buy grits to put in their Christmas gifts!

We sure will plan to try and stop by in December and maybe sooner if we can get a hike together over in that area.

We topped the day off with a stop at the Pendleton bakery and small cafe next door.  The food was great. There is also an artist co-op right next door with some very nice art work. A great place to take a ride in the country!

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Virginia Hawkins Falls on the Foothills Trail, South Carolina

Last Sunday we hiked to Virginia Hawkins Falls on the Foothills Trail (“FHT”) in South Carolina with Upstate Hiking.  The group started out from the Laurel Valley parking lot off 178 (Rocky Bottom, SC) which can be reached via an approximately half mile (a guesstimate) one lane dirt road.  There is lots of parking at Laurel Valley so no worries there. No restroom facilities.

DSC04579The trail starts past the signboard on your right up a steep set of stairs and then makes its way westward.  Horsepasture Road continues straight ahead. If you continued straight down Horsepasture Road you would quickly reach the trail on your left that goes to the Narrows, a very pretty waterfall, and a great place for spring wildflowers!

Footing is an issue on this section of the FHT as it is steep and narrow in places. I slipped on leaves several times (which would have resulted in a tumble down the hillside) so great care needs to be taken here.  The winter views were beautiful and we were illuminated with bright sunlight for the duration of our trip.  As usual, it seems I had brought too many coats and so had two hanging off my pack. (I’ve got to stop doing that.) We eventually arrived at Virginia Hawkins Falls, after crossing several small bridges and passing through a copse of green rhododendron. This twenty-five foot waterfall was renamed after a former executive secretary of the Foothills Trail Conference in 2004.  It was known as Double Falls prior to that time.DSC04582-001

After lunch and some photos (I didn’t take many all day), I decided we would just loop back around through the Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve and hook back up with the FHT via Horsepasture Road just for a change of scenery.  Fork Creek Road (trail) can be found on the free Department of Natural Resources Map which you can pick up from the Jocassee Gorges Visitor Center off Highway 11 or some of the local outdoor stores may carry it. If you continue down the FHT you will run into a large campsite. Don’t cross the next bridge but rather walk through the campsite to an opening in the trees and you should run into this trail. Make a left (right goes to Laurel Fork Falls) going approximately east.

Instead of heading uphill at the marked turn to Horsepasture Road, we continued on to look for a scenic overlook which is marked on the map.  Not sure if we found it but we did find a good view of what we think was Drawbar Cliffs in the distance which is also on the FHT. That’s a great place to stop and have lunch with nice views. My rough estimate is it is about 15 miles on the FHT from where we were. DSC04572-001

As we stood in the middle of the road, a pickup truck came by and stopped. The driver had recognized me (even without my signature orange hat) and stopped to ask if we were lost! I replied no, we knew where we were (very funny! ha). You have to be able to take some ribbing out here.

After an uphill road climb, we finally looped back on the FHT and started our return trip to the Laurel Valley parking lot. At one point, we ran into a group of young men who seemed to be out for a stroll of sorts. Some of them did not seem to be particularly well prepared for hiking as I noted one was wearing what looked like rain boots but so it goes.  They did share with me a photo they had taken of a small waterfall right off the trail which intrigued me but it had already been a long hike and I did not want to call the group back to take a look as I thought I might have a mutiny on my hands. I decided to save it for another day when we were fresh.DSC04586We finally made it back to the parking lot after a very satisfying hike in the Jocassee Gorges.

If you stick to an in and out to Virginia Hawkins Falls on the FHT, the mileage is about 9.4.  It’s rated moderate in the “Guide to the Foothills Trails.” I’d rate it strenuous for distance.

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Hike to Thrifts Ferry on the Chattooga River, Georgia Side

Several weeks ago we did a meetup hike to Thrifts Ferry.  Apparently this was an old ferry crossing that is no longer in use.  We started at the Bull Sluice parking lot on Highway 76 in South Carolina and crossed the bridge heading towards the Georgia side of the river.  The trailhead is down the stairs to your right so you never have to get on the road.  The trail itself to Thrifts Ferry stays mainly on the ridgeline so although you see the river sometimes through the trees you never really get close to it until you hit Thrifts Ferry.DSCN1116_tonemapped

It was a beautiful but cold January day.  I hardly noticed the cold though as I was dressed fairly warmly in layers and the up and down nature of the hike kept me warm enough.  The hike itself was fairly short (as my hikes go) being about 9.2 miles in and out.  We had hiked in this area before although it was on a faint path down by the river where we passed Mr. Joker Grotto, Bull Sluice, and Eight Ball among other sites. That path though would probably be quite overgrown in summer so not recommended at that time of year from my perspective. It also has lots of downed trees to cross over and under.  I did like our visit to Bull Sluice from the Georgia side.  There is a little creek crossing and you have to remove your shoes but worth it. You can get to these particular places from side trails off the main trail in any event.


Once we got to Thirfts Ferry at the 4.6 mile mark, we noted a nice campsite above the river.  There is also a sandy beach for sunbathing and some of my fellow hikers took some time even in January to catch some rays! You can see on both sides what looks like an old road bed going down to the river.  We had our lunch here and observed several kayakers entering the river across from us on the South Carolina side.  They made it to Bull Sluice about the same time we made it back to our starting point.

There are several places on this hike where you can look across to South Carolina and get some nice views. Winter is a great time to see views you would not normally see when the trees are fully leaved.  I noted several campsites before we got to Thrifts Ferry, one very small one close to the trail.

This is an in and out hike, 9.2 miles in length, and I’d rate it moderate. Definitely a do over!

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Lake Conestee Near Greenville, SC

Mr. T and I wandered over to Lake Conestee today near Greenville, SC.  This is our go to place when we just want a short walk out in nature.  I haven’t gotten around to writing about our hike on the Chattooga River in Georgia but hope to get to that in the next day or so while it is still fresh in my mind.

Posting some photos below from today’s walk.  It’s usually very good in the fall, winter, and spring. In the summer there are lots of bugs that make it miserable for the most part so we stay away then.  It looks like they are doing a lot of trail building over there so I think major improvements are on the way. I also understand a lot of mountain biking goes on here but I haven’t seen too many bicycles when I’ve been there.  The Swamp Rabbit Trail (bicycle) skirts one side of park and heads north to Greenville.  A lot of the water that was still had a layer of ice covering them which you can see in some of the photos below.  It’s that cold here in Greenville today.

We hiked on a trail I had never been on before which was Racoon Run which skirted the Reedy River for much of its length and I thought it was nice and worth walking on. You can pick up the trailhead over by the new dog park if you want. It comes out by the large iron bridge that crosses the Reedy. Check it out!

No bicycles today but we did see some people out walking their dogs but not much traffic on the trails at all.

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Crowders Mountain State Park, North Carolina

Winter hiking can be a little depressing in the Carolinas because most of the trees are bare and the plants are sleeping! That doesn’t mean we don’t hike.  In fact, sometimes the views are better when the leaves are off the trees. DSC04526_tonemapped Typically in the winter we have been staying closer to home in South Carolina.  In the summer, it can be quite warm here and the lovely mountains of North Carolina offer beautiful views and cooler weather in the summer.

Last Friday we scheduled a group hike at Crowders Mountain State Park  in North Carolina which is on the way to Charlotte on I-85 coming from Greenville, SC.  We started out from the main ranger station (Sparrow Springs Access) on the Turnback Trail and headed towards the Lake and Fern Trails.  The Lake Trail circles what I would described as more of a pond with a dam which appears to be used for canoeing.  DSC04531_tonemapped

We made the loop around the lake and eventually met back up with the Turnback and hiked to the intersection of Turnback and Pinnacle.  This is where the hike starts its way uphill until you reach the turn to Kings Pinnacle.

We decided to take the Ridgeline Trail to Pinnacle Road to get a few miles in.  This trail actually goes almost entirely downhill to Pinnacle Road.  DSC04533_tonemappedIt is rocky in places and has stairs on the steepest part.  The Ridgeline Trail  from the turn at Kings Pinnacle is 6.2 miles to the state line between North and South Carolina.

Once we hit Pinnacle Road we turned back for the climb back to Kings Pinnacle where we had lunch and enjoyed the views.  Unfortunately it was a little windy and cold.  DSC04534_tonemappedIt was also a very popular spot and started to get pretty crowded with hikers.  A couple of us made our way towards the view of Crowders Mountain and Charlotte in the distance while the others climbed down the rock face on the trail side to get out of the wind. DSC04540_tonemapped

Our return trip included the Pinnacle Trail and Crowders Trail back to the ranger station. This hike was just shy of 8 miles.

Now that we’ve covered the Fern and Lake Trails we have now hiked all the trails at this park.  I would suggest that the Ridgeline Trail is best treated as a shuttle hike.   I like the parking lot off Exit 13 (Linwood Road Access) which gives you good access to the Crowders Trail, Rocktop Trail and other trails and views at the north end of the park.

DSC04536_tonemappedThere is no fee to visit this park. Facilities and parking are very good. Trails are very heavily used so you don’t find a lot of solitude here although the Ridgeline Trail between Boulder Access Area and the turnoff to Kings Pinnacle are in my opinion probably not as heavily traveled. A good reason to hike it!

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