A Great Hike and Beautiful Views–Friday–July 27, 2012

Today we knew we had to get out early.  The weather, as usual, calls for afternoon thunderstorms again.  We certainly don’t want to get caught high up on a mountain in the woods when they roll through;o((

We decided the hike to Raven Cliff Falls would give us a challenge and still allow us to be done by noon, well ahead of the incoming storms.  Raven Cliff Falls trailhead is north on Rt 276 in the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area near Caesars Head State Park.  As we drove to the trailhead, we unexpectantly came upon a pull-off that had a cute bridge across a creek. 

Bridge to Bald Rock

As we crossed the bridge, we walked out on a huge granite rock and found spectacular panoramic views!!

Western Side of Table Rock Mountain

What a great start to the day!!

We arrived at the parking area for the Raven Cliff Falls about 9:15.  Our plan was to hike to the falls overlook, Trail #11, about 4.5 miles round trip.

Trail Map Close-up
(be sure to click to enlarge any photo)

Both of us really enjoy hiking on natural trails versus paved trails.  This was definitely a natural trail:o))

Up we go along a high ridge.

Bill had to hold on at times;o))

There were lots of roots that could set you on your butt
if you don’t pay attention ;o((

This tree looks like it is holding the boulder in place!!

It was a beautiful hike with lots of ups and downs. 
 We are feeling the elevation changes!! 
But that’s a GOOD thing!!

Finally, we got to the falls viewing platform.

Wonder if we are related to these Mills?!?!

Raven Cliff Falls are beautiful, but we were still 1/4 mile (as the crow flies) from the falls.  To get any closer would require at least an addition 8 mile round-trip hike!!  I think we’ll pass...maybe next time;o))

This was a case of the journey being the best part of the day.  The falls were beautiful, but the hike was really the best part of the adventure!!

Once back at the trailhead, we enjoyed our lunch and then drove just a couple of miles south to check out Caesar’s Head State Park.  This state park only has primitive camping.  It has a nice visitors center and overlook.  However, it is not RV friendly so DO NOT bring an RV to this location!!!!

The road to get here has lots of SQUIGGLES!!!

On the way to the Overlook, we passed this cute BUG;o))

Caesars Head State Park is the central information venue for hiking in this area.  However, if you get the chance to stop, the overlook alone is worth the trip!!!

Caesars Head SP viewing platform

Raven Cliff Mountain where we just were hiking.

In the center is the western side of Table Rock Mountian.
To the left is Stool Mountain (goes with the table)!
The highest point is Pinnacle Mountain.
The water in front is Table Rock Reservoir.
It provides the drinking water for Greenville, SC.

Higher than the Hawks!!

It would be hard to beat the beauty we have seen so far today.  However, we had one more place we wanted to visit.  Campbell’s Covered Bridge is located in this area.  It is the oldest remaining covered bridge in South Carolina.

Campbell’s Covered Bridge
The bridge was built in 1901 and is only 35 feet long and 12 feet wide. 

Campbell’s Bridge Inside
Really nice that they have decided to restore and maintain this beautiful bridge.  It now is part of a pretty park and on this hot afternoon, the kids were playing in the cool water near the bridge:o))

We made one last stop at the Table Rock SP visitor center.  It was perfect timing.  While we were using the free WIFI to check email, the nasty storm blew threw.  It was over by the time we left and the temperature had dropped 20 degrees!!  It’s been a great day and we can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Easy Travel Day–Thursday–July 26, 2012

Today we did our “normal” power walk and then took our time enjoying breakfast.  We have an easy travel day from Oconee Point COE Campground to Table Rock State Park Campground… a total of less than 50 miles.  That’s my kind of travel day…just a bit over an hour’s drive:o))

Leaving Clemson Country;o))

Pickens, SC closest town to Table Rock SP 

Where is Table Rock SP??

(Be sure to click any photo to enlarge)

Our first view of Table Rock Mountain!!
Traveling Hwy 11 towards the State Park

When we arrived at Table Rock, we backed into our site (#8), set up and then had to go to the visitors center to check in. 

Campground Map 

Apparently a bad storm came through yesterday and knocked out the computer at the Campground Store/Office;o((  We have had enough ‘Bad Storms’ this summer!!

Our site has no “IT” factor, but it’s level.

Our Street 

Our Site 

Our  Yard :o((( 

The campground here needs a lot of TLC.  Both the roads and the sites are in need of repair. Nancy remembered that when we were here with the Pleasure-way Van we had a difficult time getting level.  Nothing has changed;o((  She was sure to get the last site on the entry road.  Sites 2-8 can handle larger rigs and site 8 will at least give you a little privacy but no room.  Just be sure if you come in a large rig to stay away from the sites above #8.  Just driving a big rig through the upper campground would be a challenge.

Hairpin curves in the upper campground 

Another warning…  Be sure to enter the campground from West Gate Road off Hwy 11.  DO NOT enter at East Gate and try to drive the state park loop to the campground.  We made that mistake in the VAN:o((  There is no warning until it is too late to turn around!!  It could be a real problem for a big rig!!!

Since we arrived before noon and the temps were in the mid 90’s, we decided to drive to find a couple of waterfalls.  The first waterfall was Twin Falls.  We drove an extra 20 miles through the squiggles on the mountain roads as we misread the directions to get there;o((  Once we found the parking area, it was just a 1/4 mile walk to the falls.

Twin Falls Access Trail

It was worth the effort to get here.  The 70 feet of bare granite and 2 rushing waterfalls made for a beautiful site.

Twin Falls

The next waterfall, Wildcat Branch Falls, can be viewed by everyone…it is roadside on Hwy 11.  It is a small falls with a pool of water below.  Looks like a wonderful place to chill off on a hot day.  But after seeing Twin Falls, it was a bit disappointing.

Wildcat Branch Falls

In my opinion, Table Rock State Park Campground really needs some work.  However, we came here to hike and that is where Table Rock SP shines.  There are many wonderful trails and we plan to do several.

Trail Map

Ultimately we plan to hike to the top of Table Rock Mountain
(the red trail)!!

Pinnacle Lake and Table Rock Mountain 

So stay tuned and we will bring you the beauty we find on the trails!!

No Internet or Cell - Friday - July 27, 2012

We arrived at Table Rock State Park, SC yesterday.  All is well except we are offline completely.  We came to the visitor center to use their MIFI.  Just want you to know we are fine and will be here until next Thursday, August 2.  If you need to reach us, leave a voice mail or email and when we get a connection we will respond.

Enjoying the mountains...we'll be back in a week or so:o))

Biking the Swamp Rabbit Tram Trail–Sunday–July 22, 2012

Nancy has done quite a bit of research on the rails to trails website and wherever we go we are always looking for a trail to ride our bicycles. One of the trails near us was the Swamp Rabbit Tram Trail running from Greenville, SC to Travelers Rest, SC,  a distance of 14.5 miles one way.

We got up early and drove the 45 minutes to the trailhead in Greenville. It’s always a little tricky to find a “safe” place to park and leave your car for the day, especially when the neighborhood looks a bit down trodden. Today was no exception. We found a church parking lot near the trail and it had a couple of cars with bike racks already in the lot. As is our normal custom, I put the “club” locking bar on the steering wheel when we park in places that are not familiar to us.

We started the trail south of downtown.  Not only was it a bike trail, but they had the rubber trail for the runners!!

As we got closer to downtown, the runner trail ended.

All along the trail, we went over bridges of all types:o)

The view of downtown Greenville was really lovely.

Folks out enjoying the pretty view and cool waters.

You do have to be careful riding in the downtown section because of all the pedestrians.  When we ride this trail again and we will, we will start at Travelers Rest and just ride to the outskirts of town and back.  However, we would like to just come to downtown Greenville and walk the river trail and visit the zoo!!  Their zoo is rated as one of the best small city zoos in the country!!

As we got north of the city, the trail cleared.
We road along the railroad tracks for a little while.

We enjoyed the ride north of the city more as there was less congestion.  You do cross a couple of roads, but they are well marked and not too busy.  On the way, there are restrooms and we stopped at the ones on the Furman Campus.  It was a great ride all the way to Travelers Rest.

The trail does go a bit further than this sign,
but we turned around here and headed south.

On our way back,
we biked around the Furman Campus!

Pretty stone bridge around the lake.

Beautiful clock tower along the lake.

First time we have seen a Black Swan!!

We pedaled about 28 miles or so doing the round trip, including the side trip through the Furman University campus. We both agreed that the prettiest and most scenic ride was through the campus.

The trail was paved and well maintained. With it being a Sunday morning we encountered tons of walkers, joggers, runners and other cyclists. A State Police motor cycle also passed us. Nice to know they patrol the trail.

On our way back through downtown Greenville we somehow managed to lose the trail;o((  There are a lot of twists and turns!! Finally, we stopped and asked for directions from a local family. Once back on track we became two of the many people who stopped and enjoyed our packed lunch at one of the pavilions. We got back to the car just after noon and the temperature was already 95 degrees. On our drive home, we stopped at a K-Mart and bought two cheap $2.99 blow up rafts that we would use to relax and float in Lake Hartwell this afternoon:o)) Paddling on the rafts gave our pedaling legs a much needed rest!!

What a great day in retirement – a little walk, a nice bike ride, a picnic in the park, a swim in the lake and then cooling off in the motorhome watching the British Open golf tournament.

Life is GOOD :o)))

The South Carolina Botanical Gardens–Saturday–July 21, 2012

One of the things Nancy wanted to do while we were here is visit the South Carolina Botanical Gardens at Clemson University.  We are only 10 miles away.  I’m not a real botanical garden kind of guy, BUT…. Nancy really wanted to go!!!

The fact that it was over 90 degrees and seeing the garden required miles of walking in the heat, I was even less interested ;o(  To coin a phrase Nancy often says, “It wasn’t calling my name!”  But I went and I walked and now I have bonus points to be redeemed when I want to do something Nancy may not REALLY want to do ;o))

(Click on any photo to enlarge)

SC Botanical Gardens Visitor Center

Hosta Garden Path

Peter Rabbit Garden

Nancy here:
Just because Bill isn't a "Garden Kinda Guy"... please do not miss this if you are in the area in decent weather.  Even in this HOT weather, it was beautiful.  If we are ever back here (which I know we will be) I will be spending some time at the gardens ALONE;o)))

After the gardens, we drove over to see Clemson University.  First stop, Memorial Stadium a.k.a. Death Valley. We’ve seen it on TV, but have never been there in person… 
It was very impressive.

I can’t imagine what it must be like
on game day!!

We took a short driving tour through the rest of the campus.

The original Clemson College building

Fort Hill  -  Clemson's Founder's Home

Fort Hill Plaque

It’s a very  pretty and hilly campus.  The campus was extremely empty on a Sunday in the summer.  The college appears to has two focuses: 
sports and agriculture!!

Over all, IMO, we broke even for the day:
Clemson University tour: +10
Botanical Gardens tour: – 10

Tomorrow’s adventure is something
we both will enjoy:o))