We returned last night from our long-awaited, much-anticipated long weekend getaway to the mountains. This was the first real break we’ve gotten since before Curtis started school in February, and we took full advantage of every day off. Was that the smartest thing to do with Curtis’ upcoming test? Maybe not, but I’m pretty sure we’re not going to regret any of the fun we had. Or any time we spent lying around once we got home for that matter, recuperating from all the activities from our trip! A huge shout out to Bonnie for watering our garden for us while we were gone! (And I’m of course referring to Tropical Storm Bonnie…hello, hurricane season!)
For the rest of the week, I’ll be going into detail of the 3 full days that we were gone, but today I’m just doing a general recap over each day. We basically just knew that we were going to spend any holiday weekends we had in the Appalachians – that was a no-brainer. We miss hiking in the mountains way too much to go anywhere else! The plan was to find a place to stay somewhere around Greenville and then spend each day doing hikes in different state parks.
Then we heard about the Foothills Trail – a trail that spans over almost 80 miles of South Carolina’s Mountains, from Table Rock State Park to Oconee State Park. Curtis was really hoping for us to do that together, but I was a little more hesitant about it. For one thing, we hadn’t actually done any long-distance backpacking before, and on top of that, we were coming from sea level with hardly any hiking done in the past couple months. We also had Charlotte with us, and we were a little concerned with how she’d do. I also was hoping to have more down time between long days of hiking – the kind where you can go put on something comfy, not worry about the outdoors, put our feet up and really relax. I think all these reasons are legitimate, but reading about a bear that recently bit a hiker through his tent in the NC Appalachians was really the deciding factor. 😉 Someday we may try to hike it all…but we’re very happy with our decision for this trip! (And I’m very happy we learned about the Foothills trail so that we no longer have to think about hiking the Palmetto trail…while it’s a cool idea to have it span the whole state, it’s still incomplete, and hiking through the swampy Eastern half doesn’t sound fun to me at all!)
Curtis got out of school early on Thursday afternoon (May 26), and we were on the road within twenty minutes thanks to being over excited and having everything ready the night before. In terms of food, I made peanut butter granola to have with yogurt & bananas for our breakfasts, BBQ pulled pork to eat for lunch on our hikes, and cookies for snacks anytime (because we literally don’t travel ANYWHERE without cookies – whether it’s an overnight trip or 3 week long move across the country, we ALWAYS have cookies) 🙂 We also had a nice assortment of snacks to give us energy, and planned on eating out a couple times in Greenville.
Besides having backed up traffic in Columbia at rush hour, the drive went pretty smooth and we started to approach the scenic mountain region during the golden hour of sunlight. It was just as beautiful as we were hoping it’d be, and we felt so ready to be out there and exploring those mountains! We grabbed burritos for dinner in Greenville (all because our pastor at church used burritos in some illustration, so we had been craving them all week!) then made our way to our home for the weekend. We had looked a little into camping in state parks over the weekend, but according to the websites we were on they were mostly booked, and would only have one night opening over the entire weekend. I thoroughly checked all hotel websites for places around Greenville, but ultimately we found the perfect little AirBnB home for the weekend North of Traveler’s Rest. It was an adorable little dome home, complete with a kitchen, living area, bedroom, and bathroom with a washer/dryer. Fun sized and just what we needed – not to mention so much closer to the parks and mountains than Greenville would have been, for a price comparable to what we’d be paying for an average hotel room. We totally recommend it if you’re heading to this area anytime soon, so let me know if you want the details on this dome home!
Friday through Sunday were all about hiking and sight seeing, and ended with relaxing and gearing up for the next day’s hike. Oh how we love living like this! When we lived around mountains in AZ, the question was never “what are we doing” but instead “which trails are we hiking this weekend”. I can imagine that if we lived in Greenville instead of Charleston, we’d be living the same way. However, what really shocked us was how much different our hiking experiences were compared to hiking out West. In general, the whole outdoors scene in SC is much different than what we’re used to. As I go over our trip in the next few days, a few of those differences will come up. I can honestly say though that we sweat way more over this weekend than we ever remember in AZ. Also, we couldn’t do a hike without crossing several streams, and if you like waterfalls, this is the place to be because they are everywhere!
Before visiting the Upstate area, I always assumed that it would be my favorite part of this state and would be where we’d most likely go if we were to retire in SC (which isn’t likely, but we like to consider all options). While the scenery and outdoor activities were definitely very enjoyable, I can’t say I’m sold on the area. Our little dome was out on the countryside, 15 minutes from the small town of Traveler’s Rest, but we were by no means alone out there. There seemed to be no end to the neighborhoods and small towns as we drove. It almost made us miss the West even more, where you could be all alone with the big expansive views of both the surrounding land and the great big skies. Of course we could make the most of it and probably enjoy it if we had to, but living out West spoiled us so much! (So in case you’re wondering, I think Abbeville still might just be our favorite town in SC!)
On Monday, we mostly just drove home, with the exception of going an hour out of our way to drive through Oconee and Anderson counties, so we’re now down to 6 counties left in SC! In Oconee county, we stopped to see the old Pickens town site, which is across the river from the current location of the town. The town was here from 1828 to 1868, and all that remains is the church, graveyard, and signs telling of the site’s history. After visiting there, we drove a round about way through Seneca, Anderson, and Laurens to get back to I-26. We enjoyed driving past 3 county courthouses on our drive, in Pickens, Anderson, and Laurens Counties. After a late lunch break, we pushed on and made it home by 5. Whenever we return home from vacation, initially we’re motivated to unpack everything, log found letterboxes, draw lines on our Atlas and update our county maps, but soon after that we just crash. It was a great weekend, now we just need to find extra time to rest from all that hiking!
So there you have a brief overview of our trip, come back soon to read about our 3 main days of hiking!