Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hikes: Hikes: Foothills Trail 4 (Glutes, Quads, Calves, and Death Valley)

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!
Our 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.  

J, my hiking buddy for this trip, and I were the middle group.  Our goal was to maintain a pace that was heart pumping but not heart pounding.  We did stop to take in Lake Jocassee below.
My phone was just not capable of capturing how breathtaking this was.
Eventually J, me, and the fast Dames made it to what we thought was the spur trail to the waterfall.  We didn't know so we asked a few people who looked as if they'd walked in from one of the closer parking areas.  They told us to go one way.  Then we asked a couple that, according to one of the Dames, looked as if they were 'local to the area.'  They told us to go another way.  The problem was that our sweepers would have no idea where we went.  Solution: Leave a note between two rocks in the middle of the trail.  We knew there were very few people on the trail that day and any hiker who it was not addressed to would replace it.  By the time we left the note, we heard female voices.  I think I've stated before that where two or more Dames are gathered, it is noisy.  So we waited a while longer, confirmed that this was indeed the spur up to the falls, and headed up, and up, and up.  This .5 mile spur got deep in the glutes...DEEP!  But we made it.
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.

I 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.
The portion of our group that did not head to the waterfall, stopped here for lunch and by the time we got there, they were ready to head on.  So head on we did.  At this point the landscape began to change.  There was more space between the trees and it felt more like a forest walk than a mountain walk.  That being said, it was midday at this point and my feet were beginning to let me know that my socks were cotton instead of wool.  At the point where we planned to break off the Foothills Trail to make it to Bad Creek parking, there was a wide shallow river.  I had to stop.
Nothing beats sticking your feet into cold fast running mountain water and massaging your insoles on the river rock.
I thought my river rock massage marked the end of the hike.  After all, we only had .7 miles left to get to the parking area.  Well we had to get out of the valley...
No finish should include switchbacks and this.
Everyone had a feeling of accomplishment when we got to the end.  I was completely out of water because I carried my normal amount.  That is not enough for summer hikes, even in the cooler mountains.  Also, at the end I should have spent some time stretching because I felt this hike for about three days. 

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.

1 comment:

  1. PEARLS, this is a GREAT write up! You seemed to capture the day perfectly :) every, hot, humid, long, climb :)