There are big changes happening in my life, and I'm preparing to open up possibilities for new places to explore. My wife and I are in the process of moving to Knoxville, Tennessee. Although that means that I won't be hiking around the South Carolina and north Georgia areas as I have for some years now, the Great Smoky Mountains are right nearby. As an example of the kinds of new places opening up for hiking and photography, this post is about a hike in the Smokies taken earlier this summer.
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.
While building staff profiles for the Clemson Libraries staff web resources, I noted that many bios involved hiking as a particular interest. Since that's also an interest of mine, I've been building a hiking group of library faculty and staff. I had gone with a couple of colleagues to Blood Mountain in Georgia last fall, but we're starting to attract a larger group of core hikers. This time, we went to the Winding Stairs Trail, north of Walhalla. I had been here before, but the rest of the group had never been.
February in the upstate South Carolina area was a wintry one, indeed. The university was either closed or delayed multiple times, due to the ice and snow. After one of these winter storms, with the temperature going up and the sun coming out, I took a brief trip back to Station Cove Falls. This time, rather than starting out from the Oconee Station State Historical Site parking area, I went directly to the alternate trailhead, just down from the entrance.
Recently, I was looking through some of my photos, and I found some images from a trip I took in the late fall of 2014 along the Sourwood Trail in north Georgia, around Lake Russell. I had almost forgotten that I had taken this hike, not because it wasn't enjoyable, but just because things had been very busy on my weekends, and it just got lost.I went along the trail the opposite direction from last time, but overall, the trip went very much like the last one.
I've been to Hidden Falls before, but I decided to give it another try, this time in the winter. The last time I took this 5.5 mile hike, the waterfall was a bit so-so, due to lack of water, so I was hoping to get a better view.
Part of what I like about hiking is the quasi-adventurous nature of it. Sure, there is a clearly marked trail (usually) with a beginning and end. But, you never know exactly what will happen on the trail that day. Could be the weather's unpredictability, a chance meeting with a fellow hiker that may or may not be welcome, or you might see some wildlife that you didn't expect. Even if you take the same hike multiple times, it can be different each time.
I often like that quality. But sometimes, that uncertainty can just be frustrating. Case in point: Big Bend Falls.
It's kind of amazing how the spring, although it's one of the best times to go hiking, can leave one with so little time to do so. Between the weather, social obligations, and illness, it's been a struggle to find time to get myself out into the wild. As a result, my posts have been few and far between.
Not long after one of our southern snowfalls this winter, I set out upon the Falls Creek Falls trail, a challenging 1.5 mile hike up to an amazing waterfall. This hike is in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area of South Carolina. The recent snowfall was still in evidence on the waterfall itself, providing a unique view of the cascade.
The Stumphouse Tunnel is part of the Blue Ridge Railroad, a project started in 1852 to connect Charleston and Knoxville. It was never finished due to lack of funds, but three of the tunnels still remain standing in various states of incompletion. I visited two of the others on the Blue Ridge Railroad Historical Trail, but did not visit the largest of these, Stumphouse. During the Christmas break, my wife and I went with her uncle to see the sights in the mountains, and Stumphouse Tunnel was one of the places we visited. I wouldn't classify this as a hike, but we at least viewed the tunnel itself, and Issaqueena Falls just nearby.