Wednesday, August 15, 2007

camping trip to Sumter Natl. Forest

We spent one night in Sumter National Forest, which lies in the NW corner of SC along the boarder of GA and NC near the Chattooga River. We chose the spot for two reasons: First, we needed somewhere close. Second, we needed something for the kids. This trip took 3.5 hours (a tad on the long side for one night) but provided plenty of bang for the buck on the kid friendly requirement. The hike was only semi-strenuous and enabled us to visit two waterfalls within a short distance.
We arrived Sunday early afternoon and began hiking. After about 30 minutes we realized we entered the trail to early (a very typical characteristic of Kruidenier travel-inability to follow directions), parking further away than we had intended from our destination. Daniel jogged back to the car and moved it to our new starting place while the girls took a break. Now we were really ready.
We hiked near a mile into the woods on a slow grade mostly downhill or flat. The girls did an amazing job hiking. They each carried a pack (complete with stuffed animal, flashlight, toothbrush, and other odds and ends) and walked every bit of the journey on their own. We reached our first waterfall, Pigpen Falls, tired but excited. It was Edenic comprising of cascading falls with two major stories pouring over rock walls into a calm sandy pool. We spent the day playing in the sand, climbing rocks, swimming, and meeting some small creatures. We had met a turtle on the way down to the trail. Here we saw two snakes, a crawfish, a newt, bluegill, bass, minnows, and frogs. Below is a picture of our tent placement at the falls. That evening Ellen built us a fire. I say Ellen even though Daniel helped, because he relied completely on her enthusiasm and sheer will in spite of the damp condition of every tiny twig in the forest. When it was finally blazing she was a proud girl. Sleeping that night with the noise of the falls was wonderful. This is Ellen's art. She worked on it for a long time. It began with just a few sticks leaning against each other then she added leaves and then mud. She said it's called The Tree.

After an austere but peaceful nights sleep, with Jay protecting us until morning, we ate breakfast and packed our camp. We hiked another half mile and found ourselves at the second falls, Lick-Log Falls. These were much larger and only the base and third tier were accessible to us. At the base the falls joined the Chattoga River which made this an even more interesting site. We did some rock sliding, climbing, and falling (but nothing serious-just the occasional unforeseen rock algae and the occasional dad stunt gone bad) and tried to soak up as much of the wilderness as we could.

The return trip was more difficult. But, because of the encouragement it will give any young parent waiting for the day when they can hike with and not carry their progeny, I want to say again how profoundly impressed I was with the girls endurance, pleasure in hard work, and appreciation for being out there. It was so enjoyable hiking with them. We were exhausted when we returned to the car. But we had completed our first family camping trip in the mtns of SC and the girls first trip with so much hiking.
But that wasn’t it. We needed a nice lunch spot and so chose an interesting looking park in Walhalla SC. The park contained another easily accessible and even larger water fall, Isaqueena Falls along with a large tunnel called Stumphouse. Stumphouse tunnel is a huge hole in a bed of rock where a group of entrepreneurially minded individuals had tried to build a railroad straight through the side of a mountain. They ran out of funding maybe a 1/3 of a mile through. It now rests as a freak curiosity for onlookers like us. All you need is a headlamp and the capacity to forget all the frightening things about the dark that you have ever read, saw on a movie, or dreamt up while lying in bed. Jennifer and Ellen could not, but Daniel and Arianna made it to the end and back…alive.
Then we headed home. We had a wonderful trip and are excited to return to that part of the country for more exploring. We are interested in doing some mild canoeing on the Chattooga.


William said...

What a great trip! Love Arianna's knee-socks! Too cute. Careful with those "Kruidenier can't follow directions" remarks. (JUST KIDDING!!)

David said...

Great description of the hike. I felt like I was there, and I wish I had been! The urban jungle that is Philadelphia seems like another planet. Maybe we can go camping next time I visit. Love you guys!

Anonymous said...

SUPER trip and you're doing such a great job blogging! Those girls are so special and I'm so proud of them! Artistic too! Nice pics too. You almost, I repeat, almost, make we want to go camping. Are there air conditioned hotels at these places??
Love you,

Claire said...

thanks for the encouragement, i was already dreaming of a time when we can ALL hike on our own two feet. We are getting there...looks like you had a great camping trip, time seems to slow down in the woods, one night is worth a week at home!

Claire said...

thanks for the encouragement, i was already dreaming of a time when we can ALL hike on our own two feet. We are getting there...looks like you had a great camping trip, time seems to slow down in the woods, one night is worth a week at home!