Foothills Trail, SC, 10/09

Oct. 16-19, 2009
53 miles

Bob and I struggled out for the first trip of the fall/winter hiking season when we can hike in comfort and not have to wear white.  We had planned on going on the big Dolly Sods expedition in West Va.,  with Chuck, but the weather turned especially fowl up there (30’s, rain and snow and walking in the water for most of the time) and Chuck couldn’t go at the last minute.  So we decided to save it for another time and head south where we would at least get a few days of clear weather.

The Foothills Trail runs for 80 some miles along the borders of SC, GA, and NC but mostly in SC.  We decided to do the northern 50 miles from Whitewater Falls (the highest in the East) to one of it’s northern terminus(i) at Caesers Head state park.  The Foothills Trail Conference has a great list of folks who do shuttles and we got a guy the next day who would take us down to the start for $40.  It was trying to clear up as we started down the trail after a view of Whitewater falls.  (After this picture my camera refused to work)

This section of trail around the Jocassee Gorges is very up and down as it crosses 4 or 5 major river drainages.  Beautiful rivers but no views, especially with the leaves on the trees.  The first day was lots of up and down and we ended up camping on the banks of the Horsepasture river at dark as the rain started.  The second day we had more up and down and cloudy weather with more hikers and bear hunters than we should have seen.  Lunch on the banks of Lake Jocassee, the huge suspension bridge over the Toxaway river and the Jocassee Steps or the steps from Hell.  Duke power did not know how to contour around much of anything.

The second evening it started to clear up and we had a pleasant camp at Laurel Falls.  The next day was a great hike up Laurel creek and over and down into Rocky Bottom and the highway.  It was on this section that we again passed a pair of young guys one of them had thru hiked the AT, as we passed them, still in camp early in the morning the thru hiker, wrapped in his sleeping bag, exclaimed “You guys are animals!”

We the started the long climb up the highest point in SC (Sassafrass Mtn. at 3354′) still no views.  In true Bob tradition we then took the Foothills trail alternative route out across the eastern continental divide.  UP and DOWN.  We camped in a gap under some giant old growth Poplars and finally a cool night 28 degrees.  The last day the trail really just follows old logging roads and we finally got the only view of the trip on Dolves Mtn., a great view though north to the Black Balsams and Shining rock area.

We limped into the car after a long “mile” road walk and headed home.  No need for me to go back to do this trail again but it was a good warm up to my Utah trip.

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