Pumpkins are on the vine and summer is coming to an end. Emily suggested we have one last summer trip.  Emily loves lake Jocassee and suggested a backpacking trip along the foothills trail.  After weeks of studying maps, planning routes, and gathering supplies, We embarked on a three-day extended weekend journey.

It turned out to be one of the most amazing adventures of my life,  of course, I say that about all of our adventures!We begin the trip climbing steps, soon to become a reoccurring theme with this excursion.

Soon it levels off somewhat and Emily is humming country tunes while Savannah the best hiking dog ever follows faithfully behind. We were conquering mountains,  fueled by the sweetest, most perfectly,  ripeed wild muscadines that were littering the trail. It was a great day to be alive!  The first day we hiked to Virginia Hawken’s waterfall it was easily one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

  We explored and rejoiced in the cool mountain water.

The second day we made it to Laurel Fork Falls.  We took full advantage of this lunch break to swim to what seemed to be at least a quarter-mile across the lake and up the slot canyon to catch a glimpse of the waterfall tumbling into the lake. It was stunningly gorgeous but when we made the turn into the short canyon the river water seemed 29 degrees colder!

Actaea pachypoda / Baneberry or Dolls eyes

Back to shore to eat lunch while sunning on the rocks, Did I tell you it was another great day to be alive!

Euonymus Americans / Hearts a bustin

The second day’s hike ended with us being lakeside at rock creek campsite our packs were falling off before we made it into camp and made our way down the creek to take a near-perfect sunset swim. Far from shore, dusk melting to dark,  the warm lake water felt like “Calgon” taking us away.

Our relaxing soak interrupted with terrible sounding howl piercing the evening sky. We turned to look back for Savannah who moments before was standing on shore playing with a  stick and watching us. Now she was nowhere to be seen and the howling sounding even more desperate! Be both turns and swim towards shore as fast as we can!  Just before we reach the shore Savannah comes walking out of the woods tail wagging high smiling it seemed. As we leave the lake we take the same trail savannah had walked out of.  We were both WOW! What happened here? There was a wallowed out shallow depression the size of a large house that looked like someone had run a tiller through. Our guess was she has startled wild boar. As we looked around there were more signs all around including at our campsite.It did not scare us but we did take few extra precautions that night.

The next morning after breakfast we climbed and descended what we dubbed the brutal stairway to heaven and a full fall from grace!  It was a  mean mountain between Rock creek and Toxaway creek.

But we rewarded ourselves with one more long delightful swim across a cove to search for arrowheads on the far shore.  Another Great day to be alive!

Then up, up, up, and up some more up  five more miles including some being lost bushwacking thru gullys, with long vines and roots from vines surrounding us, in some very Indiana Jones moments I half expected a giant stone ball to roll us over any moment.!With perseverance and the perfect hiking team.

we made it to the top of the mountain tired,  hot sweaty, and sore. Yet the inner glow and the feeling of accomplishment were overshadowed by the pure raw hunger that climbing mountains give. Where is the nearest restaurant? We were starved!

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