Part 2 of our MLK weekend adventure! Read part 1 here.
After visiting Congaree National Park, we headed to the East side of Columbia to visit a state park and do some more hiking and letterboxing for the day. Since we have an annual SC State Parks Pass, we are always looking for a nearby park to explore and enjoy. So far, in just over one month of purchasing the pass, we’ve almost made up for it with visiting several parks. A great investment I’d say, especially knowing we’ll only be able to enjoy SC for a limited amount of time!
We arrived at Sesquicentennial State Park in the mid-afternoon. It’s a short drive off interstate 77 (or I-20). Right when we arrived, we could tell it was a lot more developed than some other state parks, which isn’t exactly what we look for in a park. It was also extremely busy – with huge parking lots that were filled significantly. We realized what this park was right away: the place where people in Columbia go to get out of the city and enjoy nature. I guess that’s what we get for choosing a place so close to a big city!
There was definitely a family reunion or two going on there, so that made up for a lot of the people that were there, and once we starting walking on a trail, we were able to have a nice walk alone. There’s a lake in the center of the park, and that’s where most people were, but the trail we took went through the woods in a big loop around the lake. The areas we walked through were more wooded and we couldn’t always see the lake, but that was fine. We were able to find the letterbox we went after, and got another 2 miles of walking in for the day. If we lived around Columbia we might visit this park again, but there’s so much else we want to see that we don’t see a need to now.
We had talked briefly about camping, but we saw that it was supposed to rain through the night and be much colder the next day. When I found a hotel under $50, we went ahead and passed on camping. It was nice to stay warm and dry…but I wish I’d read the reviews on the place first before staying there. :p Whenever we stay in hotels, I always check Expedia for low prices in the area and we have never had a bad experience, so this was kind of a first for us. However, The Incredibles was on the Disney channel that night, which almost made up for the place. Almost. 😉
Once the rain stopped the next morning, we got out of that place as fast as we could. (Curtis tried to speak to the manager about our disappointing stay, but he didn’t speak English.) We took I-20 to highway 601, headed East on 378 and then South on 261. We really enjoyed the long, hilly country roads around this area – yes, there were hills! 😉 We stopped along the way to attempt a letterbox that was off of the Palmetto trail – a trail that goes across the state from East to West – but sadly couldn’t find it because the clues were solely based off of numbered signs which didn’t exist anymore. (Curtis still put in a good attempt though!) The Palmetto trail is not complete, and was supposedly affected by the flooding SC experienced in the fall of 2015, but Curtis still talks about wanting to hike through parts of it. I personally am unsure about through hiking through the low country (I just can’t embrace the idea of hiking through a swamp, I’m sorry!) but wouldn’t be against the more hilly parts of the state. We know there are mountains out there, and we’re anxious to go and do some real hiking again!
Our final destination for our weekend getaway was Poinsett State Park, tucked away in Manchester National Forest. They happen to have the nickname “Mountains of the Midlands,” and while there are no real mountains out here, we came across a set of switchbacks while hiking, so I guess that’s good enough. 😉 The best part about this park was that it’s so far out in the middle of nowhere that there was hardly anyone there. The temps were in the upper 30’s, so that could have had something to do with it, but still – we had a nice long hike alone together in the middle of nowhere, and it was great. The letterbox we sought after was also missing, BUT the park allowed metal detecting, so Curtis was appeased. 🙂
At one point along the way, we had hiked up quite a ways and saw that if we went off trail and hiked just a little higher, we would be at what appeared to be a high point with an overview…but were disappointed when we hiked up and found that it only looked like an overlook because there were only very short evergreen trees and no tall trees like the ones we were hiking through. It was very deceiving. 😉 When we came near to the end of the trail we were on [Coquina Trail], we found that the trail was closed, so instead of going back the way we came we decided to follow another trail [Laurel Trail], which went along a creek for a while, crossed over a bridge, then dumped us out on the road entering the park. Again, instead of retracing our steps, we walked along the road right back to our car, making it a nice long loop trail. There were plenty of other trails in both the park as well as the state forest, but we decided to head home because it was just too cold to really enjoy. This would be a park we’d consider revisiting someday though!
We finished up our adventure with more back highways the whole way home, and found 2 more letterboxes in a graveyard near Moncks Corner. In all, it was a fun weekend learning and discovering more about our new state, and disappointing hotel and cold weather aside, we still ended up cozy at home, in our sweats and cozy bed, and eating homemade pizza. We love traveling and exploring, but it’s not just the adventure that we love – it’s also the feeling you get after a day or weekend after going somewhere new, then being home together and reminiscing about the fun we had together.
See more pictures from this adventure at savingtimeinabottleimages.tumblr.com.