3:30 p.m., Saturday 6/23/12, I was completely done. Done enough to sprawl out on hot asphalt post hike. Done enough that on the ride to Applebees in Easley (or Seneca or Pickens) I had a completely exaggerated response to seeing Death Valley from the road. So done that I couldn't even imagine driving all the way home post hike. I WAS DONE!
A few Saturdays ago, a small band of Dames hiked the section of the Foothills Trail that stretches between Sloan Bridge Access and Bad Creek Access. This was our 4th hike of our Foothills Trail series. Some day soon I'll write about the first three sections. It was an 8.3 mile hike, with an optional .5 mile spur to a waterfall, and a .7 mile spur from the trail to the endpoint parking space (9.5 miles total). Sounded very doable, particular since I was blessed enough to not have to drive to the trailhead. I was already in Greenville the day before the hike for work so I stayed and my group was kind enough to pick me up from my hotel. Throughout this series, I have been waking up at 4:45 a.m. in order to meet the group on time-ish.
|This fella was waiting on us at the trailhead!|
GLUTES and CALVESOur fearless leader described this hike as dynamic with the first 5.3 miles being a gentle uphill climb. She did not lie...I just underestimated what going uphill (even gently) for FIVE miles means to a body that has lately been driving pass, instead of to, the gym. According to this sign at the trailhead reward at the end of the climb was Whitewater Falls.
We walked and we talked. Eventually we passed by a sign marking the S.C./N.C. state line.
|My phone was just not capable of capturing how breathtaking this was.|
|WORTH IT! There was a sign took a picture of and lost. It said something like "Do not stand on this side of the fence. X number of people have died falling from these rocks." Most of us stepped over for picture taking purposes.|
QUADSI took this opportunity to zip the bottoms off of my pants and readjust my knee brace. The knee brace was about to become very important. After all, what goes up must come down. We had to contend with stairs (man made and natural) and some fairly steep downhill sections during this last portion of the hike. My right knee is not strong these days and I do nothing to help it when I hike and jog on hard surfaces.
|See that bridge down there. We had no idea how to get there but luckily I had the security whistle issued to me by my public safety office during my Freshman year in college. That got the attention of the folks already down there!|
|Pesky bridge!. Options to get up on the bridge included the run and jump, giant step followed by a throwing your body on the boulder with hopes that your pack doesn't pull you backwards, and helping hand.|
|I chose the giant step option and made it up without incident.|
|Nothing beats sticking your feet into cold fast running mountain water and massaging your insoles on the river rock.|
|No finish should include switchbacks and this.|
On the way out of the foothills and to dinner, I did a little dozing. At one point, I opened my eyes and in the distance I saw Death Valley. For some reason, I got this burst of energy as I realized that the overwhelming heat of that day meant that football season was around the corner. I began to sing "Tiger Rag". Hold that Tiger! Hold that Tiger! C-L-E-M-S-Ohhhhh-N! Until next time y'all.