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Virginia Hawkins Falls, SC

I saw online that the Foothills Trail Conservancy cleared trees at the bottom of the Virginia Hawkins Falls. I was in the area and figured I would go check it out. I parked at Laurel Fork Gap and walked the 1.5 miles to the falls (map of area can be found here). The last time I visited Virginia Hawkins was when Daniel and I kayaked across Jocassee. The hike along the gravel road was a bit easier, but not quite as exciting as the paddle trip.

Joyce Kilmer – Big Fat Gap to Hangover

Avery and I met Friday a few weeks back at at the Big Fat Gap trailhead in the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness area. It was pretty dark when we started hiking, but the trail wasn’t too bad with headlamps. We hiked about a mile or two along the Big Fat Gap trail to Slickrock Creek which is almost all downhill. Avery had wanted to stop at the campsites we passed near the start of the trail, but I knew the next day would be a long day and wanted to get a bit more mileage under our belts Friday. We setup camp once we reached the creek.

Saturday morning we cooked breakfast… which was interesting. I had a read a book earlier in the week about making pancakes while hiking. All you had to do was bring pancake mix, mix with water, and coat the pan with olive oil or butter. I wish I could say it was that simple… it ended up being a giant mess. Edible mess. But a mess. I don’t think we will be trying that again.

Once we managed to clean up breakfast and break down camp, we hid our bags in the bushes and hiked downstream to Wildcat Falls. We had to cross SlickRock creek once or twice to get there – it was definitely a bit slick!

We returned back to camp around 11ish, had a quick snack, and headed up the trail towards Naked Ground. The first mile or two was fairly easy. We reached the point where the trail diverted from the creek and started its ascent. We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us and decided to go ahead and have lunch and top off our water.

The trail from Slickrock Creek up to Naked Ground was hard. Not only did we have to gain over 2,000 feet in elevation, we had to climb over a hundred trees. I wish I could I say I was exaggerating, but I really think it was a hundred. You would climb over one tree and could see at least 2-3 more trees ahead of you. Hurricane Irma came through a few weeks before and I guess that caused so many trees to fall? I would not recommend the trail to anyone until some serious trail maintenance has taken place. It was brutal.

Finally we reached Naked Ground. There was a nice campsite which was very appealing, but we decided to push on to Hangover. It was around dusk when we finally reached Hangover – just in time for the sunset!

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The sunrise the next morning wasn’t so bad either!

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We packed up camp Sunday morning and headed back to the car. It was a quick couple miles of downhill – thank goodness! If we had to go up more uphill, I probably would not have made it!

 

Max Patch, NC

Bella and I decided to check out Max Patch a few weekends back. We picked up some BBQ, beer, and a book and headed out on our adventure. The weather was simply amazing. We found an awesome spot and setup camp late in the afternoon, and then hung out/napped.

The view from the top of Max Patch is simply breath taking. You have a full 360 degree view.

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Bella and I watched the sunset. I think she may have enjoyed it more than me!

 

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Lower Whitewater Falls

Bella and I hiked to Lower Whitewater Falls yesterday afternoon. The trail starts off on Duke Energy land at the Bad Creek parking lot. You follow the Foothills trail to start, then follow a gravel road for a bit, and finally end on an old logging road which leads down to the overlook. It took us about 2-3 hours to complete. I believe the entire is trip is about 4 miles (~2 miles each way).

 

 

 

Lake Jocassee, SC

Daniel and I went kayak camping on Lake Jocassee a few weekends ago. We started our journey off at Devils Fork State Park.

We paddled about 10 minutes and then noticed a bunch of clouds and rain coming in over the mountains to our left. We immediately picked up the pace and headed for the closest section of shore we could find.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe found ourselves a small beach cove named “Happy Cove”. We puled our boats up on shore and hid under a bank while the rain passed.

After the rain passed, we jumped in our boats and began paddling again.

After 6 miles of paddling, we came across a small waterfall. When we heard the noise of the falls, we thought we had arrived at Laurel Fork, but once seeing the falls, knew we had a bit further to go.

We paddling a little bit further and caught our first glimpse of Laurel Fork.

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We parked our boats at the bottom and climbed up the rocks to check out the falls. We had to cross a bit of mud, but we made it across. There was a lot of water flowing over the falls due to the recent rain.

We decided it was so difficult to try and carry our bags up the rock face to the campsite on the map so we back paddled a few minutes to the Laurel Fork Boat Ramp. We packed our stuff into our bags and hiked the .5 miles to the campsite. We stopped and checked out a few campsites, but we finally found the perfect spot – at the very top of Laurel Fork Falls.

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The next morning we started our morning out with a filling breakfast of eggs and bacon.

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We then hiked to Virginia Hawkins Falls. It is a pretty waterfall about 2 miles from our campsite.

After visiting Virginia Hawkins, we grabbed our stuff from our campsite and headed back to our boats. We packed our stuff up and checked out the falls once more.

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Sam’s Knob and Black Balsam, Pisgah National Forest

A friend and I camped in Pisgah a few weekends back. It was dark when we arrived. We spent Friday night at the top of Sam’s Knob. It was dark when we arrived, but the view in the morning was gorgeous! So many flowers blooming!

Saturday morning we hiked back to the car to stock up on water and food for the day. From the car, we hopped on the Art Loeb trail and hiked to Shining Rock.

From Shining Rock, we hiked a few miles towards Cold Mountain before turning back. We setup camp for the night on top of Black Balsam.

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I was hoping for a cool sunset, but a bunch of clouds started moving in around dinner time. I started to get worried it was going to rain, but it passed over.

Although the evening was uneventful, the morning sunrise was quite the opposite!

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Day 5: Olympic National Park

We made a quick stop at Ruby beach on the way to Sol Ducky Falls after hiking out from Pony Bridge. They say Ruby beach is one of the most photographed beaches. It was cool, but not nearly as cool as Cape Alava.

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We setup camp at the Sol Duc Campground for our last night. This is a drive up campground that we reserved a few months in advance. I am glad we reserved in advance as there were no more sites left. After setting up camp, we hiked to Sol Duc Falls.

After finishing our hike, we headed back to our campsite. There was a creek not too far from our site so we carried our chairs and beers down there. I really wish we didn’t have to leave so soon! IMG_4630