Monday, November 11, 2013

Foothills Trail: Around Whitewater Falls

My friend Still Waters joined me for a few hours at the start of my weekend backpacking trip.  From the Bad Creek Parking area for the Foothills Trail in South Carolina, we rambled along side trails to the big trees at Coons Branch Natural Area, and then out to Upper as well as Lower Whitewater Falls.
Tree hugger at the pocket of virgin forest at Coons Branch Natural Area.
I was bubbling with excitement about my plan for the PCT.   I’ve been working on my gear list, sewing some new gear, increasing the intensity of my workouts, and was full of ideas.  I talked poor Still Water’s ear off, but she said she was glad to see me out of my rut and back to my usual joyful self again.  
Look at the awesome new convertible mittens/ gloves that I constructed (0.5 oz less than the old gloves plus they cover my wrists and have two layers of fleece!!!!).
... and here are my new tarp skins made out of an old pair of tights!

Still Waters.
After Still Waters headed back home, I set out on the Foothills Trail towards the Thompson River and Hilliard Falls, which were both running really low. What a contrast to when I’d seen them flowing strong back in January!   

Leaves were at least a foot deep in spots, and I laughed to myself about "postholing" through the leaves. 

In fading light (hello daylight savings time), I scampered up a hillside to find a stealth campsite.   Setting up my tarp (and especially taking it down) was much faster with the new tarp skins.  I'll likely make another set with a lighter-weight material, though I rather like how the orange and black striped fabric contrasts with the real-tree camo print of the tarp. 
Packing the tarp into the new skins.
The next morning, I backtracked to Upper Whitewater Falls (even though I did the whitewater corridor the previous day, it’s worth repeating that section), and then continued on to SC 281, before turning around and heading back to my car at Bad Creek. 
Gorgeous fall foliage at Upper Whitewater Falls.
It’s strange to think about doing a continuous hike, rather than my usual out and backs (this trip involving out and back and out and backs too- another favorite!).  I always marvel at how much more I notice going the opposite direction, how different the trail looks in different light, how much easier the trail is going uphill rather than downhill (especially in thick wet leaves). What is it going to be like seeing new terrain every single day!?!?  Guess I'll find out...

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