Friday, April 8, 2011

Formerly Friday: King Creek Falls Spur, Chattooga Trail

It's been a while: understatement of the year! Last weekend, my husband and I finally got to some adventurin'! We took a drive to the lovely Chattooga River area in Oconee County last Sunday, and scouted out road markers and signs for future daytrips along the way!

For a scenic drive from Greenville, SC, follow Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway 11 east through Pickens County into Oconee County. Follow signs to Walhalla (Highway 183), then turn right into Walhalla's downtown on Highway 28. You'll pass Oconee State Park entrances, including the stop for Issaqueena Falls and Stumphouse Tunnel (an incomplete railroad tunnel through the mountain that was abandoned at the outbreak of 'the War Between the States,' as the historical marker said), which make for a fun stop off! It's a bit of a scramble down to the base of Issaqueena, but totally worth it!

You'll follow 28 further into the mountains, winding along gorgeous scenery; it was a perfect 65-70 degrees, with not a cloud in sight, so we enjoyed our drive! From 28, take 107 into the Chattooga River Valley and Ellicott Wilderness Area. The turning is a ways down the road: Burrells Ford Road is the left hand turn you'll need! It's a gravel road that you'll follow for about a mile and a half until the parking area for the Burrells Ford campsite.

Burrells Ford has a porta-potty and well marked trailhead, so you can use the facilities... after an hour and a half in the car with my morning coffee, I was desperate. We made our way down the trail behind the trailhead; white blazes lead you down to the water and along for about .4 miles, where you cross the Foothills Trail! Follow the white blazed spur trail along a tributary of the Chattooga, and enjoy the dramatic shoals as you approach the glorious King Creek Falls!

It's an amazing spot! We stopped for about an hour, taking in the beautiful sunny day with the fresh spray of the falls! Pictures do not do this giant justice.

Roundtrip, the hike felt like less than a mile, but signs have it posted as exactly a mile each way. I have no idea, but Steven said he believes the signs... this may be due to the fact that I always tell him hikes will be easier than the turn out to be. I guess I'm just ambitious! It's well worth the drive for my Greenville fellows, and less than thirty miles from Cashiers and Highlands, NC.

Trail Recap:
King Creek Falls Spur off of Chattooga Trail (white blazes)

As always, thanks to the South Carolina Trails Program for their fantastic maps and information! Please please please check out the site for great outdoor adventures to be had in our fantastic state! South Carolina is such a great place to experience!

I dedicate this post to my darling Steven, whom I've had the privilege of being married to this past year... as we near our first wedding anniversary, I thank God for our past adventures, and companionship in future ventures! What other man could so aptly handle life with a bear, however micro?!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Brissy Ridge Trail, Paris Mountain

Phew, it's been too long! Thanks to an unending stream of bad news and rainy days, Dad and I have been house bound... a lot this winter! Thank goodness for my husband, even with Daddy out of the country with Mom for a family emergency (and yes, this means our March camp trip has been scrapped).

Steven and I have been dedicating our sunny Sundays off together to spring cleaning, reorganizing, and yard work! It was much needed, but we were neglecting the wilderness! So this Microbear took her pack o' crazies out to Paris Mountain State Park for a brand new hike!

The Brissy Ridge Trail is accessible from the topmost parking area on the mountain. It's a yellow blazed trail that starts at the Trailhead that marks the Sulphur Springs Loop's higher leg. The trail can be quite narrow as it follows the ridge around. There were a fair amount of downed trees along that first stretch, and the thin vegetation this early in the season made for some crazy views of the Piedmont!

We did the whole 2.6 mile loop, following the ride first around, then down into the rhododendrons and mountain laurel! The grade going down was fair, and the hike along the creek was meandering and gorgeous! Even without the colors of the summer, the woods and the weather were absolutely beautiful!

When it came time to climb back up, there were some convenient stairs planked into the ground; but watch out, as the narrow climb makes hiking with dogs a little interesting, especially when there are a lot of families out on the trail, like this particular perfect Sunday! Also keep in mind that half of the yellow blazed trail is foot traffic only! Mountain biking is welcome on certain trails only at Paris Mountain, and never on Saturday due to heightened traffic!

As always, take plenty of water. We took a bottle each, and it was all gone after our walk in the sun! We also took a couple snack bars, but only split the one due to our having a wholesome breakfast. Don't forget about your pooches' hydration, either! We have a collapsible bowl that easily wedges into my pack!

Brissy Ridge Trail at Paris Mountain
Brissy Ridge Trail (yellow blazes)

For more information on Paris Mountain State Park, check out my post on the Sulphur Springs Loop, and also SC Trails Network!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Multitasking Microbear!

Seeming as cold weather and missing a hiking buddy paired makes for a long hibernating Microbear, be sure to follow me over to the book blog, Reading Loves! Rain or shine, I read like a woman obsessed!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Waking up from hibernation...

I feel the need to apologize for the extended sojourn Microbear has taken; I just don't feel like it's worth posting without having gone on an adventure to report on, and winter weather paired with drama has made it slightly dangerous and uncomfortable! I refuse to be the sort of blogger that posts about any ol' thing that happens on a day to day basis. I respect that this particular blog I have started had a goal, and I intend to keep the focus. Thank you so much for all of your patience!

My Dad and I are finally going on an overnight backpacking adventure! We don't know quite where to, but this month is scheduled! The sun is nearing our gentle earth again, and as it warms our beautiful southern trees into bloom, I am gearing up for a season spent outdoors in my garden and the mountains! I can't wait to share it all!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays from Microbear!!

I hope that all readers, regular or new, have a wonderful, safe holiday with their loved ones! Thanks for your continued interest in my antics and thoughts; I appreciate it so much. The great year ahead shall hopefully see many more fun lessons in backpacking and hiking, and many more beautiful Carolina scenes to take in!

In spirit of the holiday, here's one of my favorite Christmas moments!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Formerly, Friday: Whitewater Falls

Sorry I've been so patchy with posts, folks. Bad news has me headed across the pond for twelve glorious family-filled days tomorrow, and that doesn't really leave much time for hiking and backpacking, much to mine and Dad's chagrin. In lieu of a day hike, here's a little information on one of the jewels from North Carolina, the Land of Waterfalls!

Off of SC 130/NC 281, there is a recreation area with what has been proclaimed as the East's king of falls... you can't get very close to it due to a number of fatal accidents. Whitewater Falls is part of (originality, readers) Whitewater River! Whitewater River is a part of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, and the Foothills Trail makes for about 85 miles of volunteer-maintained hiking that meets the river at this recreation site.

The stop Steven and I made on our way home from a day trip to Highlands, NC took us to this North Carolina stop. It was late in the afternoon after a great day at the Nantahala National Forest, and this was the perfect wrap up of a day out with nature!

The recreation area of Whitewater Falls was incredibly clean and picturesque, with vantage points not only of the falls, but neighboring Lake Keowee in the wee distance. The paved walk up the hill from the parking area at Whitewater Falls takes you to a decent overlook of the falls, but we agile folk took the extra 150-something stairs down to another overlook that gives further access down to the Foothills Trail along Whitewater River. I thought that view was far more spectacular; I only wish we'd gotten there earlier in the day, so as to night have to fight with my camera's flash options to capture the impressive scale of the 411 foot drop that is North Carolina's Whitewater Falls...

Forgive the horrid photograph. The autumn was wrapping itself up; this was probably one of the last warm weekends we had, the last weekend of October! I'd love to see how lush it all looks late in the spring; but we got lucky as we didn't have to angle around foliage to see the immensity of the crashing waters! The roar of the falls is impressive in and of itself; Steven and I may not have hiked to it, but we highly recommend this stop if you find yourself travelling the SC/NC border!

For more information, click: Whitewater Falls Recreation Area

Thanks as always, and expect another Formerly, Friday in two weeks time if all goes well! If not, enjoy the sounds of crickets!

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

I have a Goodreads account; I think every one who knows me best was shocked that I chose to do a blog about hiking/outdoor adventures over books. I suppose I like that people get to follow me as I learn about hiking and backpacking, that there is a sense of progress to it. I wasn't an English major, so I never feel comfortable advertising my thoughts on books when there are so many higher, more qualified authorities.

Today, however, I will! I just finished reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and wanted to share my Goodreads review. My parents had lent me the book after they both read it, and were pretty excited about it! I think my Dad especially may be a bit disappointed with my thoughts on it, as he enjoyed it so.

Disclaimer: I love hiking, even for its occasional discomforts. Keep that in mind, and remember that my opinion is never to be taken too seriously!

Bryson describes his (and others') experiences along the Appalachian Trail with smart wit and breathes of cynicism, explaining that as with any other government organization, the Park Services (National or State) aren't incredibly logical agencies, however idealistic some in their employ may be. 

I enjoyed the blend of history, geology, ecology, and anecdotes, but really had a hard time truly losing myself in this book as Bryson comes across as a bit of a whiner sometimes. When he's giving you all the information, its really fun and easy to get sucked in to the topic at hand. Thing is, we're talking about someone who says they are going to hike the AT, has the time and (apparently) the money to do huge chunks of it as a thru-hiker, yet gives up at Gatlinburg only to take smaller day chunks out of the New England sections with his car, then meet up with his original trail buddy in Maine to finish the Hundred Mile Wilderness in one shot... that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. At that point, they're out of shape and no longer conditioned to be comfortable carrying their packs, as well as beginning the hardest, longest stretch of uninterrupted wilderness.

It goes back to my problems with Eat, Pray, Love. The whole world does not have the time or the money to drop their day to day lives to go travelling, despite their personal aspirations. What Gilbert did that Bryson does not do, however, was discuss her gratitude for the opportunities, and try to do justice in her rhetoric to the beauties she witnessed. Bryson just plods along, complains a bit, enjoys a hot meal at a rest stop when possible, and gets sardonic about... well, everything.

Sometimes this book made me want to read his other travel books. Sometimes this book made me anxious to start the AT myself. About half the time, though, I just wanted more information, and less Bryson muttering.

Thank you all for your continued support of this blog! I appreciate it beyond belief.

I will be headed to England in a few days to stay with family. This will be my first trip back to the Mother Land in over seven years. It's going to be very bittersweet as those that know what is going on in my family can attest to; forgive me for not discussing details online. Just know that any thoughts and prayers are appreciated, and when I return to South Cackalacky there will be many more trail posts! Patience is appreciated!