Possible Junk Lies Ahead:
The Foothills Trail Journal
Monday, October 10, 2005
Total Miles: 8.3
I parked and left Oconee State Park just before 3pm. I walked the 8 or 9 miles to Lick Log Creek which is a very beautiful looking and sounding place to spend the nite. The area surrounding Lick Log Creek is over used by trampling beings. I used my Portable Aqua for the first time here at Lick Log Creek. I'm not dead yet. I only saw 2 people hiking the Foothills Trail today and they were very near Oconee State Park. They were Foothills Trail Conference members clearing their section of the Foothills Trail. They sectioned hiked the Appalachian Trail from 1982 to 2001. It is the first time I have ever seen someone working on the Foothills Trail.
My phone has no service at Lick Log Creek, so I haven't seen what time it is since I left Oconee State Park. I find it strange as to what I should be doing. I am guessing it's around 9pm....assuming it gets dark around 7.30pm.
On my way to Lick Log Creek, I spotted what I believe to be a "super turkey". The animal was grey and stood like an ostrich. The "super turkey" had a small dark companion with him, but I only saw them for a millisecond and have doubts about the size I believe the turkey to be.
I'm in the mesh netting tonite. There's the possibility of rain, but I'm holding off on the tarp until there is a definite.
I'm up again. I've probably been up for 2 to 3 hours. I'm eating some crackers and drinking more Kool-Aid in an attempt to stop my brain from running. I keep thinking the sun will rise soon, but that was over an hour and half ago. I debated for 45 minutes or so on whether or not to go outside of my mesh tent in order to use the restroom and get more food. I just didn't see myself falling back to sleep anytime soon, and now that the crackers are gone, I am even hungrier.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Total Miles: 26.3
I did not want to hike this much, but I kept pressing on and barely found a campsite before nitefall. I'm on a spur trail that leads a 1/2 mile or so to a stream as well as semi flat campsites. I only snacked today because I never could quite find the exact spot where I would want to sit down for 30 minutes. My Portable Aqua takes 30 minutes to treat a liter of water. That's a long time for me to wait on potable water. I'm not willing to carry much more than a liter of water, since water is all around. Carrying very little water has me running out before I am willing to stop at the next source. I just haven't quite got use to sitting around waiting for potable water. Aqua Mira, what I used on a large portion of the Appalachian Trail, only took 14 minutes. I also used a gravity filter on the Appalachian Trail. The gravity filter is what I prefer for my instant "thirstification". The reason I am stuck with Portable Aqua is due to the fact that I waited until the last minute to go and get water treatment. Portable Aqua was all the store carried.
The Foothills Trail Conference Guidebook notes that there is "safe water" at Burrell's Ford Campground. I took the guidebook to mean running water from a source other than a stream or a river. The pump that's located with the campsites wasn't working. So I couldn't eat my lunch here; however, I grabbed some water out of King's Creek to start my Portable Aqua purification. On the top of a mountain, some 30 minutes later (remember my phone does not tell me the time, so I guess), I sat to drink, eat, and try to see if my phone was in range of a tower. The phone stated the time to be 3.30pm. Wow. I thought it was way earlier, 12 or so. So I pushed on thru the day just snacking.
Today's walk was very beautiful and I have seen no people. The only time I cross civilization is at a road crossing and a car comes flying by. I never thought the Foothills Trail would be this desolate, but I love it! I don't hear another voice, nor do I have to witness vulgar camping and inflamed fires.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Total Miles: 42.7
Slept little again last nite. My brain keeps running and I can't get comfortable enough for hours on end. I am in new territory tonite. I successfully made it past my old stomping grounds. There were several attention-grabbing sights that stuck with me today: 1) Seeing a massive landslide that wiped out a mountainside and sent landscapes down hundreds of feet and even sent debris over a waterfall. This portion of the Foothills Trail was suppose to be fenced off, but the fence was removed and orange flags had been placed to mark the Foothills Trail. I wanted to see the anomaly for myself. Skirted on, under, and between death...imagining how much weight would be necessary for the stacked piles of humongous trees to start sliding again. I would not want to be the hiker experiencing acres of mountainside being swept from under my feet. If I survived from being crushed, there was still the chance that I would be pushed off of a waterfall to certain death. 2) A 0.9 mile side trail lead to a veranda that overlooked the Lower Whitewater Falls on the Foothills Trail. The site from the veranda was spectacular/picture perfect. The veranda overlooked miles of dense forest surrounding the water. Yet, from so far away, you could still hear the roar of Lower Whitewater Falls. 3) The number of people on the trail I ran into today. Since Monday I haven't seen a soul, and then early this morning I ran into a couple getting prepared to hike- The female had the bright orange "dookie" shovel, with dirt, in her hand. I was told that I scared them...they had never expected someone to come from behind them, as they were hiking the same direction I am. They had not seen anyone since they started.
Afternoon or so, I was on my way back from the Lower Whitewater Falls side trail, two female day hikers who like to speak french to each other, for some reason, slowingly didn't feel the need to translate that this fellow wants to pass. Tonite at camp, a father and son team arrived just before nitefall. This is what I get for slowing down. I enjoyed the trail to myself. Tomorrow, I hope the population decreases, unless it's fine single attractive women who want me.
The Foothills Trail on a whole is always more and more beautiful. The side trips have always been worth the extra effort. As the scenery improves, as well does the climbing and descending. If you can hike the Foothills Trail, you can hike the Appalachian Trail, it's just the completing the Appalachian Trail that is so difficult for most. I still have 33 miles to go before 5 o'clock Friday. I called my mother on top of a ridge to let her know I would need three more hours.
I wish I could express the beauty that exist here. The beauty exist massively and within 76 miles. There are uncountable stream crossings and numerous waterfalls. The way the water pools together and rushes thru incredibly smooth boulders- crystal clear- romantic- and I am all alone. The hills await my sore tender feet. There's a salamander poking it's body out from beneath the campfire rocks.
Where are the bears? I spend all day looking left and right for a sight or a sound. All I see is poop.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Total Miles: 59
Didn't sleep well again last nite. Had some crazy dream, awoke, and rain was spitting on my face. Rains spits instead of dropping because as rain hits the mesh of my tent, the rain splatters, separates, and enters thru the mesh screen like tiny mists of spit. Got up and fixed the tarp over me and my belongings. I haven't used the tarp in 2 years. It still kept the light rain off of me. I must have left early today because I passed a tent around Lake Jocassee with people still in it. Across the lake I passed another cluster of tents that were the bulky Wal-Mart brand with people hanging in and around them.
I think the lite rain this morning, or the tress dispensing last nite's rain, helped conceal my noise when walking. I spotted a whitetail deer in Gorges State Park and heard more deer in her vicinity.
Trees practice chinese torture in retaliation for people and dogs expressing themselves all over trees. The trees' slow promiscuous rain drops collected from the nite before make great revenge. While the squirrels play the generals- running back and forth from branch to branch. Bombing with nuts, nutshells, and a squirrels' M.O.A.B. (mother of all bombs) is a kick to the branch above you.
By 1.30pm I only had 4.7 miles left. So I chilled at Laurel Fork Falls and arrived at the campsite, where I am staying tonite, around 4pm. I debated on whether I should continue. I wanted too, but there was no definite assurance of a campsite within daylight's time.
After leaving Laurel Forks Fall, an hour or so later, I ran into a pair of couples- probably late 30s. One of the ladies had Blondie hair and the other had the 80's man butchness doo. They were nice and let me pass as they were shooting their photo opt on one of the bridges that cross Laurel Fork Creek. One of the men asked me if there was anyone staying at the Laurel Fork Falls Campground. I told him "No", and stated that even if somebody was staying at Laurel Fork Falls Campground that there would be plenty of spots. That got me thinking... Minutes later I grotesquely envisioned that the 4 were producing naked photos or a porno at the falls. The flick would not be model style, but rather homegrown beauties of the nite.
Today the number of people I saw was 15 or so. I didn't ask the people to come out of their tents for a head count. Seriously, I had the trail to myself for the most part, and this section of the Foothills Trail was beautiful. For most of the day I carried my Gatorade bottle in my hand, taking the weight off my shoulders, and forcing myself to drink and resupply when empty. I have been rationing my cherry Kool-Aid and it looks like the supplies will make it to the end. This entire trip I may have drunk a full liter of pure Portable Aqua; but Portable Aqua's taste is chemical. The water I'm drinking may not be pure Kool-Aid, rather my water is flavored red and I imagine the cherry drink to be pure.
It is the first time that I have seen the moon out on this trip.
One Hour Later- I can't get to sleep. It sounds like some animals are being made further on down the path. Now I'm imaging what animals it might be that are making such a raucous/ridiculous noise.
The noises aren't rhythmic, yet sporadic and short-lived.
Its probably 10.30 or 11pm. After the third sprinkle of rain, I decided to get up and erect the tarp. Ants were outside exploring my pack. I moved my pack under the tarp and tied the pack to the rope that "A frames" my mesh tent, and hung the pack in the middle. I hope I remember to shake the ants off in the morning. 4 ants have landed in my mesh castle. I hope they are the last I feel or see. There are another set of 4 ants circling outside- seemingly, systematically, searching for a way in. If the ants outside can team together and take down a large animal like killer ants, then I may not make it to the morning. I plugged a hole that is located in the corner of my mesh where there is a tie out that has partially ripped off. I sincerely hope that the corner hole was their only way in here. I want to go to sleep.
12am- It's late. I've checked my mesh castle a third time now- No entries. The 4 ants, or more, are still plotting out there.
I did find one more crawling on the inside of the mesh.
6am- 2 more ants have been found inside the mesh. It's still dark and
the stars are out. I got about 5 hours worth of sleep.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Total Miles: 75.4
After having ant-fright all nite. It was great to finally get up and get going. I left the campsite around 9am after eating flavorless chewy grits that had "real butter" and last nite's macaroni & cheese contents that were stuck and I couldn't wash out the nite before. Climbing the tallest mountain in South Carolina, Sassafras Mountain (3,554 feet), was not very hard. There was no view at the top because of the foliage. On the way to Table Rock State Park, looking thru the trees as you walked the Foothills Trail you saw great vistas, but no real clear understanding of your altitude or the layout of the neighboring mountains. But I was not to be disappointed when I got to Pinnacle Mountain. The views off Drawbar Cliffs were nice, and there were even more magnificent views of Table Rock from the south side of Pinnacle Mountain. I took the 0.2 mile side trail to the top of Pinnacle to say that I have climbed it. The side trail summit to Pinnacle Mountain is spiders, weeds, and no view. The side trail to the top of Pinnacle looked like it hadn't been hiked in months. You could hardly find some of the turns in the trail. Once to the top, all there is- overgrowth and a 10x10 area of smashed down vegetation that looks as if people may camp there. There were no views off Pinnacle.
Table Rock State Park was beautiful as well. Table Rock has waterfalls, large boulders, some tough footing sections, and provides a long widening descent off the ridgeline. This trip was fantastic visually. As I was less than 2 miles from finishing my journey: I saw Bears!!! One was a cub, and the other was under 10. The bears were to my left on the mountainside about 250 feet away from me. They were walking the opposite direction I was going. The Foothills Trail is unique in that for its beauty the trail should have a lot more people hiking on it. No adjacent towns to resupply, may turn would be thru hikers, into section hikers. The Foothills Trail for only being 75 miles or so, had many more trees down on the trail, than the Appalachian Trail. However, no where on the trail was it impassable, including the landslide at the Upper and Lower Whitewater Falls. The things that label the Foothills Trail for me: solitude, rain (meaning abundant moss/mushroom/plants/rivers/falls), and location for weather (possible 4 season).