Sunday, June 09, 2013

Get Out of Charlotte.

Carole needed a new pair of work shoes and there is a specific store in upstate South Carolina that she likes to use to find those shoes. So we got up early and headed down Interstate 85 to our neighbor to the south. We knew the shopping wouldn't take long, so we had some side trips planned in to the itinerary that would allow me to walk into the woods and see some mountains and maybe a waterfall or two.

As expected, Carole zipped in and out of the store in quick order. Then we stopped at a roadside stand to buy fresh peaches. After that, we were on our way to Jones Gap State Park. One place that has been on my to-see list for years is the Poinsett Bridge. This was a stone bridge commissioned by the then powers-that-be as part of a road to connect Greenville to Asheville. That road has long since vanished, but the bridge remains. It's a gorgeous thing to behold, and reminds me that humans can build things of beauty and not just of terror and destruction. Using a modified arch design, there's no telling how long this bridge can last if left unmolested by roaming flocks of ignorant assholes. (You can see where some graffiti has had to be removed.)

After visiting the bridge we took Old Highway 11 to Jones Gap State Park, stopping briefly at a roadside barbecue joint to pick up lunch to eat in the park. (The food at this place was excellent, so we highly recommend Burly Bill's BBQ on Highway 11!)

In the park we found a place to picnic and then went to explore the park. Jones Gap State Park is unusual in that it's a park mainly for people who like to explore such places on foot. There is only limited parking, and the camping there is walk-in only (or walk UP only, since the campsites are situated high on the slopes of the Blue Ridge escarpment).

I decided to hike up to see an overlook and a waterfall along the Hospital Rock Trail. When my back has recovered, I'd like to go hike the whole of this trail. The ranger had told me that there was "a waterfall" just before the overlook. I was expecting a small six or eight-foot tall cascade and was not prepared to see a genuinely impressive and very large waterfall to the left of the trail. Most of the view of it is hidden by leaves and limbs, so I ended up having to climb up the mountain via bushwhacking to get a better view. Then I had to carefully pick my way back down to the trail--not easy with an injured back.

After that, I headed back down to the main part of the park and to the parking lot where Carole was waiting patiently for me. Then we headed a little farther down the road to take a look at Table Rock State Park where Carole wants us to take the travel trailer to spend a few days.

Poinsett Bridge. A construction of pure beauty.

What little that remains of the old Greenville to Asheville "road".

You can see the problem with the locals. They even vandalize memorial markers.

Middle Saluda River in the Jones Gap State Park.

The Park office.

A pair of swifts had built this nest above a bulletin board beside the bathhouse. One was sitting in the nest, but she flew away before I could get a photo of her in it.

The basis of the park was once a fish hatchery. They saved this single pool when the hatchery was decommissioned (in 1963).

The Hospital Rock trail goes UP.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.

Part of the big waterfall along the trail. This small cascade was below the trail. Most of the waterfall is above the trail.

The "overlook" was caused by a Duke Power transmission line that slices through the edge of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness.

I had to climb up to get this shot of one of the bigger drops on the waterfall.

When the big wildlife doesn't show, I look for the little critters. (I did see a large brown snake, but he was so scared of me that he slithered off so quickly that I didn't have time to take even one photo.)

Good old Table Rock Mountain. Yes, the South does have some impressive walls of solid rock.


Mike said...

Amazing! I'd love to be able to drive a bit and find that kind of experience.

The tiny arch over the creek is one of those spots that lingers in your mind.

James Robert Smith said...

That particular park is easy for us to get to. It's also one that I can't explain why I don't visit it more often.