For the next hike with Clemson librarians, we decided to head to Rainbow Falls, in Jones Gap State Park. This is a repeat hike for me and was for at least one of the other hikers in the group. But, Rainbow Falls is such a gorgeous spot, it is worth repeated visits. This hike, about 5 miles round trip, is relatively strenuous, but the view at the end takes one's breath away.
This trip was a good example of the value of good planning and communication. When I worked with the group to organize the outing, there were some assumptions that everyone knew the way. This turned out not to be completely accurate, and I hadn't provided either directions for some of the group who were going in a separate car, and there had been no plan for where we would meet at the trailhead. Ok, so maybe not the best laid plan.
The group with me got there pretty easily, and we waited for the other group. After a while, we started to get concerned, and then got a text from the other hikers. The text gave a location that none of us had heard of, and we tried to text back for clarification. But, here's the thing: when you're in the mountains, phone signal is pretty sketchy. Practically non-existent, in fact. Therefore, after a bunch of attempts at communication, the only thing we could discern was that we should go on ahead, and the others would catch up when they could. And we did just that.
This hike to Rainbow Falls also strongly illustrated the difference between hiking it during the week (as I did last time) and on a beautiful weekend. There were far more people on the trail, and a good number of large hiking groups. Our subgroup was only three, but many of the other hiking groups were significantly larger, and significantly younger. Turns out that that this was a good day for middle school hikers on a group trip.
Not that that was a bad thing, of course. I'm always in support of fostering a love of the outdoors in the generations coming up. But, it did make for a very different atmosphere. By the time we got to the falls, the place was teeming with humanity. We took a break near the base of the falls and waited for the crowds closer up to thin out before we ventured up to get pictures and soak up the view.
The other group never made it, as it turns out. They had been directed by park rangers to the wrong part of the park for the trail, and ended up trying a different trail, the Raven Cliff Falls trail. They still had a good time, and I will endeavor to craft a more detailed plan for the gathering next time.