Saturday, December 3, 2011

Leaving South Carolina

It's hard to believe how quickly 3 weeks have flown by since our arrival in SC.  Tomorrow is time for us to pack it up and head to FL for a few months.  While we're not really FL people (no mountains, no great hiking) we're looking forward to the warm weather, beaches, family and friends for a few months. 

We've been cramming in as much hiking as we can these past few days as we know it will be a long time until we see mountains and forests again. 

There are so many waterfalls around here and a few days ago we were able to hike to two of them.  This area is so remote and the hiking is incredible as we are in the wilderness away from all signs of civilization.  It's also interesting trying to find these waterfalls as most of them are tucked away many miles down a dirt road or in some cases a 4-wheel drive dirt road (thankfully we have the Jeep!).  It makes it all the more rewarding when we finally come across the beauty of the water.  

Brasstown Falls was a series of 4 waterfalls ranging in size from 20 to 40 feet.  As we descended each level we were more and more amazed at the beauty of each.

Riley Moore Falls was much smaller in comparison to Brasstown Falls but still beautiful in its own way.  This was an area where the Jeep got a little workout on the dirt roads leading to the trail.  The trail to this falls was a great little winding trail in and out of the hollows on the way to the creek.  The falls are on the site of what used to be a gristmill.  

From the mountains to the city.  We took a reprieve from hiking to head to Atlanta, GA.  It was a quick trip in and out of the city (to avoid the crazy traffic in that area) so we spent a little time in the Centennial Olympic Park, lunch inside the CNN building and a walk past the Georgia Dome.  If we get more time on another trip we will definitely take a day or two to check out this city in more detail. 

Back to the mountains - Highest Peak in SC - Sassafras Mountain.  One of our goals is to eventually climb MOST of the highest peaks in the US (no way on McKinley!) so climbing to the top of Sassafras was another one we could check off the list.  As you can see below, we still have a long way to go!  :-)

RankStatePeak Elev-Ft Range (Level 3)Ascent Date
1.AlaskaMount McKinley20,320Alaska Range 
2.CaliforniaMount Whitney14,495Sierra Nevada 
3.ColoradoMount Elbert14,433Southern Rocky Mountains 
4.WashingtonMount Rainier14,411Cascade Range2006-08-25
5.WyomingGannett Peak13,804Greater Yellowstone Rockies 
6.HawaiiMauna Kea13,796Hawaii 
7.UtahKings Peak13,528Western Rocky Mountains 
8.New MexicoWheeler Peak13,161Southern Rocky Mountains 
9.NevadaBoundary Peak13,140Great Basin Ranges 
10.MontanaGranite Peak12,799Greater Yellowstone Rockies 
11.IdahoBorah Peak12,662Idaho-Bitterroot Rocky Mountains 
12.ArizonaHumphreys Peak12,633Colorado Plateau 
13.OregonMount Hood11,239Cascade Range 
14.TexasGuadalupe Peak8749Southwest Basins and Ranges 
15.South DakotaHarney Peak7242Great Plains 
16.North CarolinaMount Mitchell6684Blue Ridge Mountains2011-11-10
17.TennesseeClingmans Dome6643Blue Ridge Mountains 
18.New HampshireMount Washington6288Northern U.S. Appalachians 
19.VirginiaMount Rogers5729Blue Ridge Mountains 
20.NebraskaPanorama Point5426Great Plains 
21.New YorkMount Marcy5344Canadian Shield 
22.MaineKatahdin5268Northern U.S. Appalachians2011-08-31
23.OklahomaBlack Mesa4973Great Plains 
24.West VirginiaSpruce Knob4861Appalachian Plateaus 
25.GeorgiaBrasstown Bald4784Blue Ridge Mountains 
26.VermontMount Mansfield4393Northern U.S. Appalachians 
27.KentuckyBlack Mountain4139Appalachian Plateaus 
28.KansasMount Sunflower4039Great Plains 
29.South CarolinaSassafras Mountain3554Blue Ridge Mountains2011-12-02
30.North DakotaWhite Butte3506Great Plains 
31.MassachusettsMount Greylock3488Northern U.S. Appalachians 
32.MarylandBackbone Mountain3360Appalachian Plateaus 
33.PennsylvaniaMount Davis3213Appalachian Plateaus 
34.ArkansasMagazine Mountain2753Ozark Highlands 
35.AlabamaCheaha Mountain2405Appalachian Ridges 
36.ConnecticutMount Frissell-South Slope2372Northern U.S. Appalachians 
37.MinnesotaEagle Mountain2301Midwest-Great Lakes Area 
38.MichiganMount Arvon1978Midwest-Great Lakes Area 
39.WisconsinTimms Hill1951Midwest-Great Lakes Area 
40.New JerseyHigh Point1803Appalachian Ridges 
41.MissouriTaum Sauk Mountain1772Ozark Highlands 
42.IowaHawkeye Point1670Great Plains 
43.OhioCampbell Hill1549Midwest-Great Lakes Area 
44.IndianaHoosier Hill1257Midwest-Great Lakes Area 
45.IllinoisCharles Mound1235Midwest-Great Lakes Area 
46.Rhode IslandJerimoth Hill812Northern U.S. Appalachians 
47.MississippiWoodall Mountain806Appalachian Plateaus 
48.LouisianaDriskill Mountain535Ozark Highlands 
49.DelawareEbright Azimuth442Northern U.S. Appalachians 
50.FloridaBritton Hill345Piedmont-Southeast Coast 

Til next time...happy trails!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Appalachian Trail

We did it!  We made it to both ends of the Appalachian Trail in the same year.  Ok, so we didn't hike everything in between but we still accomplished our goal of hiking to the northern and southern terminus of the AT.  And let me tell you...neither are just a walk in the park! 
Mount Katahdin - August 31, 2011 - Northern Terminus of the AT
Friday, November 25, 2011 - We started at the Visitor Center at Amicalola Falls State Park
That's a lot of miles to Maine!
Little did we know that during the first mile we would quickly climb a steep path and 600 stairs to the top of Amicalola Falls (At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the tallest cascade in the Southeast).

I think they are trying to scare everyone away with all of these warning signs.  It didn't work and it wasn't THAT bad!
Hike Inn is an Inn 5 miles in for those who like to hike but not sleep on the ground.  That's not for us!

 Ahhh...we made it to the top!

What a view and what a picture perfect day we had! 

We set up our stuff at our home for the evening, Springer Mountain Shelter.

Then we hiked back to the top of the mountain to enjoy a gorgeous sunset. 

At our shelter we shared company with several great people.  There was Troy and his son, Ethan, out on a 4 night boys trip and then there were 4 guys finishing the trail from Maine to Georgia in a little over 5 months.  The only visitors at the shelter we could have done without were the mice running across our sleeping pads all night long!  Pesky little buggers.  They even got to snack on Tom's bagel.
Southern Bound successful thru-hikers - Bullwinkle, Jonesey, DA and Turtle
What a great trip!

Til next time...happy trails!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our first big holiday away from home...Thanksgiving, 2011.  As we were approaching this day we were a little sad thinking about not being in PA in our house filled with family and friends, eating dinner and sharing a good time (as was our tradition since Tom and I met in 2004).  We tossed around ideas of what to do...take a hike, go out to eat, hang out at the RV and eat in, etc.  Then Tom came up with the fabulous idea of volunteering at a local soup kitchen...and so we did!

Feed The 5000 by Our Daily Bread in Seneca, SC.  I'm not sure how many years they have been doing this but they had quite a well organized operation.  We showed up around 8am to help prepare the meals and we could see they were well on their way and probably spent most of the night cooking some of the items and general preparation.  We were able to help with miscellaneous duties as well as the big job of picking off the meat from all of the turkeys.  After the food was prepared and packaged there was the job of delivering these 5000 meals to the locals in need.  Tom and I were fortunate enough to deliver 84 meals to a nearby apartment complex which housed mainly senior citizens.  Each person was so grateful for this tiny offering we appeared with.  It was truly a great feeling to us and also a great reminder of how thankful we are for what we have.  We have already talked about making this our holiday tradition and plan to find somewhere in FL to help out on Christmas day. 

Cooking and prep area

meals being loaded in our Jeep for the delivery

Since the last blog we have been on several gorgeous hikes in North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina, where we are currently staying.  While this area is definitely remote, it does not lack in beauty.  We are surrounded by woods, streams, lakes and rolling farmlands.

These 4 pictures are from one of our favorite hikes (which we also did in 2007) - Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.  While it is a great hike with lots of variety, it is also not for the weak at heart with many steep climbs and drop offs as well as ladders going straight up the sides of the mountain.  That's why we love it so much!  

Split Creek Farm - SC - a goat farm for fresh cheese, milk, soap, etc.  I'm not a huge goat cheese fan but this stuff was excellent!  What a neat operation they have with over 700 goats in different areas of the farm and even a pot belly pig to help clean up the area.  They also had a local artist with her items on display in a little cottage. 

Issaqueena Falls and Stumphouse Tunnel (an unfinished railroad tunnel) - SC

We even checked out the '55 Exchange at Clemson University for some fresh ice cream!  (Established in 2005 by a generous gift from Clemson’s Class of 1955, the ’55 Exchange is a student run enterprise that was created to preserve one of our core agricultural traditions, the Clemson Ice Cream Experience)

Becky and Dee enjoying the great ice cream! Dee is a fellow RV'er and good friend we met at our current campground in SC.
 Tallulah Gorge State Park - GA

Chattooga River (we later found out this is where the move Deliverance was filmed - yikes!) - Foothills Trail and Big Bend Trail - SC

We will be in SC until Dec. 4th then head on our way south to FL!  Til next time...happy trails!