Sunday, June 03, 2007

of parasites that suck and waterfalls that don't

once again, because he has promised to post yearly (and i've been informed that he's not due yet), SO has suggested that i be the one to blog about yesterday's hike in the upstate. (his excuse this week was that my legs hurt less than his. i'm not really sure what that has to do with pounding out a post, but there you go.)

i was on kid duty anyway (the bosses had a stimuating conference to attend, and while their 9 year old has promised to use his powers for the forces of good and not evil, i'm afraid i just don't quite fully trust him not to set something on fire or try to put his little sister (my sidekick) on ebay or something of that sort.

because i like to prove i'm not totally mean and horrible all the time, i asked the kids for a little input regarding the sort of hike they'd like to go on. he said he wanted to go on a shorter hike (our last one was in the neighborhood of five miles)and he'd like to see a waterfall. she said she wanted to go on a hike we hadn't been on before.

because i pretty much rock, we went on not one, not two, but three trails and saw two huge waterfalls. (as for the distance thing...uh....oops. then again, the kids didn't seem to mind.)

after our customary lunch stop at the a&w/long john silver's in greenville, sc, we drove northwest, toward lake jocassee.

after about an hour or so, we arrived at the north carolina border, which meant i'd overshot the turn for our first hike, so i turned around at the first available opportunity (the kids were pretty excited about the state welcome signs), and backtracked to the gate blocking the road to our first trailhead. after noting that the gate only operated automatically between 6am and 6pm (which came in handy later, when the kids were screwing around and needed a little motivation to hustle their buns so we wouldn't find ourselves sleeping in the car at the trailhead overnight), we passed through and drove to the trailhead.

helpful trail map located at the trailhead parking lot

after the first 1/2 mile, we came upon a pair of bridges spanning the whitewater river. after playing around on the rocks for a few minutes*, we crossed the bridges and continued down the trail toward the lower whitewater falls observation deck.

sadly, my incredibly graceful and refreshing dip in the drink while heading back to the bridge was not caught on film....err....pixels.

there had been a orangish brownish snake in front of these logs, but SO didn't hand me the camera in time for me to take a picture so i could look it up at home and see if it were the sort of snake i should have been a little more concerned about. this, dear reader, is why i held the camera for the duration of the hike.however, you must admit that it is a rather lovely picture of wood, which is almost as interesting.....or not.

obviously, this bar was placed across the trail for my amusement, though the offical sign claims it's to keep vehicles off the trail.

ahh...spring in south carolina....rain keeps the waterfall running, and humidity keeps my face both shiny and...uh...interestingly textured.

the trail from the parking lot to this lower whitewater falls (which is a 400 foot drop, by the way) observation deck is just under 2 miles long (each way). after snacking on oranges, beef jerky, and a variety of dried fruits and nuts, we headed back toward the river. somehow the boys got ahead of us, which worked out well because as luck would have it, this hike turned into a learning opportunity for the five year old.

yes, folks, my sidekick has now learned how to pee in the woods.

as a matter of fact, not only has she learned how to pee in the woods, but she also has firsthand knowledge of just how important it is to not only keep your butt downhill of your feet so your feet don't get wet, but also to lean waaaay back (trees don't mind being hung onto for this purpose) so that one does not wind up with wet shorts.**

i swear, you boys have it way too easy.

after crossing the bridges again (and having a small snack on the rocks, while the 9 year old was busy playing on the rocks and going for an unintended swim), we took the coon branch trail in search of the state's largest magnolia tree. the hike i linked to earlier claims that the tree was at the end of the hike, but if it was, it must've been in some sort of disguise.

mildly disappointed after hiking two miles and not seeing the giant magnolia tree, we headed back to the parking lot, passing these funky plants along the way:

after heading back to the car and making ourselves comfortable (did you read the footnotes yet? you should. really- i can wait....), we headed back through the gate (with ten minutes to spare, thankyouverymuch!) and crossed back into north carolina in search of the slightly larger (411 feet) upper whitewater falls.

(it's actually possible to hike from the bridges across the whitewater river to the upper whitewater falls overlook, but that would have added another 3.5 miles to our hike, and i'm pretty sure someone would have wound up needing to be carried and quite frankly, none of us are strong enough to carry SO on flat land, let alone a 1.7 mile climb.)

here's the point where you can "ooh" and "ahh" as much as you'd like:

after a few (dozen, on SO's part) photos, as well as a tick removal on the way back to the car (note to self: start carrying spray), we headed back home, stopping in greenville for dinner on the fly. (after nearly seven miles of hiking, we were so grubby and funky that even jack in the box was a little too classy for our group.)

we got really lucky on this trip- the remnants of a tropical storm were heading through south carolina, but we didn't get rained on at all. in fact, the sprinkling started about ten minutes after we left the upper whitewater falls parking lot....and approximately three minutes before i discovered tick #2 while scratching what i thought was a zit along the hairline at the top of my neck. (i was surprisingly calm about this, which is probably a good thing when driving on a winding mountain road.)

on the way home, the nine year old browsed through my hiking books and selected a waterfall he wants to see on our next outing. after we dropped the kids off, got home, and scrubbed off the forest funk, i settled in with my hiking books and discovered there are two waterfalls along that trail. i'm hoping to have SO talked into checking it out next weekend, assuming his legs have loosened up again by then, of course.

*my socks and trail running sneakers still aren't quite dry yet...oops.

**it should be noted that she chose to practice this technique back at the parking lot, in front of the spot a pot. i can't say i blame her for preferring to drop trou in front of the spot a pot rather than inside. those things are generally downright foul. i think i'd almost prefer an old-fashioned outhouse or tree any day.


Callie said...

LOVE that picture of the waterfall.

I'm thinking you have your boss's kids more often than the boss does, though.

just some dude said...

The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. :-) good to see you're still doing well.

duff said...

callie: hmmm. you know, if you add in the time i spend with them during the week and when their parents are out of town at conferences andd just might be right.

dude: tried to see how you're doing, but your blog is for invitees only, and apparently i'm not one. this has left me beyond bummed. glad you still check on me, though.

just some dude said...

I need to find your email address!! I want to invite you!! Though you'll be sadly mistake if you think my writing skills have improved during my hyaatis, hyatis, hiatiss, Uhm vacation. ;-)