Monday, April 23, 2012

Hikes: Dancing in Landsford Canal State Park

Yes I danced on a trail, but saving that for the end of the post...

My hiking shoes are always in the back of my car.  Why would things never used in the house (tennis racket, yoga mats, beach chair, picnic blanket, DEET, and so on) need to come inside?  My dad calls it being junky.  I call it being prepared.  Listening to him I would not have been able to explore a new-to-me SC State Park this past Saturday - Landsford Canal State Park

A friend and I decided to meet for an impromptu Saturday night away after my hike in the Upstate was cancelled.  Fifteen minutes into my drive I decided I still wanted to get some outside time in.  After some fiddling with my phone I decided on Landsford Canal State Park.  I followed Google navigation and arrived on the side of the park that has no public roads.  My only way to the trails would have been to leave my car and swim across the Catawba River - probably illegal, definitely dangerous, and well just not going to happen.  So using the real paper map I keep in my glove box, I eventually made it to the park. 

Then I did what I would not recommend to anyone.  Despite being prepared with trail shoes, I did not have trail clothes.  All I had were the workout clothes I'd tossed in my bag on the slight chance that I decided to use the hotel gym Sunday morning.  I went into the ladies room and changed into a run skort, Dri fit tank and requisite palmetto tree visor.  I had a lot of skin out for the trail. One very appropriately dressed trail lady let me know that my outfit was more appropriate for the tennis court than the trail.  She of of course was sporting non cotton loose fitting pants, a shirt with 30 pockets, a wide brimmed hat, and a walking stick with the appearance of being hand-hewn from the original tree. 

The Canal Trail is described as an interpretive trail beside a 19th century canal built to bypass the Catawba River rapids. There are signs along the way explaining different areas of the canal.  A part of the trail takes you into the canal bed and through the remains of old structures like this mill takeout.

After discovering that the trail is fairly flat and free of tree stumps and rocks, I decided to do more of a trail run interval workout.  Great workout but even with stopping and doing the 'keep my heart rate up' wiggle at each sign, I still reached the end of the trail too soon.  The trail terminated at a lock and dam system that was used to raise boats 32 feet.  It appeared to be a pretty cool piece of engineering.  This is what remains of it now.
After talking with a man having lunch on that end (you can park at this end too), and reading a little more about this history of the area as a trade route, I headed back the other way.

Halfway back, I veered off of the Canal Trail and took the Nature Trail back to the parking area.  There's an overlook where the Canal Trail and the Nature Trail leave each other.  The rocky shoals in this part of the river are supposedly home to the largest area of Spider Lilies in the U.S. 
I have no way to confirm if this is the largest growth of spider lilies in the U.S. but to the naked eye they were gorgeous. 
The nature trail leaves the canal and follows the edge of the Catawba River.  It was beautiful.  I was so happy to have taken a brief detour to experience this that when Chairmen of the Board's 'Carolina Girls' rolled around on my playlist my run deteriorated into a skip and then a full on dance routine.  Me and the kid that came bounding around the corner behind his dog and away from his parents had a good laugh at me.  The major lesson learned this weekend was that my dad is not right nearly as often as he thinks he is ;).  Until next time y'all.