Fat Cat's Corner

April 10, 2014

Historic Oconee Station & Station Cove Falls Hike

Filed under: Hiking, Skinny Dog, South Carolina, Spring — Linda @ 6:32 am

I haven’t been to Oconee Station in almost eight years, so when the HHHikers decided to hike a moderately strenuous trail in Dupont Forest, I whimped out.  I wanted to see more Spring flowers than I thought would yet be available at Dupont so took my dog and my camera and headed out.

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I’d forgotten what a beast she can be on the leash, it was exhausting.  It’s all my fault as I haven’t taken the time to properly leash train her.  Much to my relief, she did sit and not jump on passers-by when I ask her to.


It’s a popular hike,

Yellow Trillium

Yellow Trillium

a little over 3 miles round trip from the Historical Station

Station Cove Falls

Station Cove Falls

to the Falls and back.

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It took about 2 hours with lots of stops for sniffs & flower photos.

Trillium and Fiddlehead Ferns

Trillium and Fiddlehead Ferns

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I went on a Thursday and met a large group of OLLI hikers and several smaller pods of intense photographers.

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The trail is well maintained and well marked.  I remember having to bushwhack through to the falls about 8 years back but all is nice and tidy now.

Lots of flowers; trillium, bloodroot, violets and anenome.  Trees are starting to bud out too.
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It wasn’t hot but is was warm for hiking.  My girl does like to cool off in the water:)
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March 28, 2014

Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve

Filed under: Hiking — Linda @ 4:23 pm

Well obviously I’m doing more hiking than I am crochet or knitting.  I really need to finish some WIP’s and get them posted.  In the mean time…hiking.

This week eight Happy Hugger Hikers explored Chestnut Ridge Heritage Preserve.  This 1,886 acre preserve is located near Landrum in Greenville County.  When we pulled into the parking lot there was a large group of 25 OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) hikers getting ready to hit the trail.  We let them get a few minutes head start and I started my EveryTrail app before we started after them.  The first mile and a half is a relatively flat footpath through new growth forest.  The trail is slightly sandy and very easy on the feet and there are two bridges that cross a small creek.  From about the 1.5 mile point the trail starts it’s gradual ascent up the side of Squirrel Mountain.  It flattens out, starts up and flattens out to an elevation of about 1,300ft before descending  via switchback & stairs to the South Pacolet River three and one half miles in.  At the river the OLLI group had the best lunch seating (first come first served) so we sat a little further along on some nice fallen logs.

Spring was springing this trip and we saw fields & fields of trillium,

Field of Trillium

Field of Trillium

blooming wild Ginger,

Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger

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Blooming Wild Ginger

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a few bloodroot, which is a popular red natural dye used by Native Americans and natural artists.  A break in the surface of the plant, especially the root reveals a reddish sap.

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

one lonely Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

Jack-in-the-Pulpit

some Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead Ferns

patches of Spring Beauty,

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

and one Yellow Trillium.

Yellow Trillium

Yellow Trillium

By far the most abundant plant this trip was the Sweet Betsy Trillium.

Sweet Betsy Trillium

Sweet Betsy Trillium

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Boulder outcrops, mature chestnut oaks and good winter views.

South Pacolet River

South Pacolet River

In a few weeks you won’t be able to see through the trees.

South Pacolet River

South Pacolet River

This hike was 6.7 miles round trip and at our leisurely photographing pace took us 3.5 hours to complete.

March 24, 2014

East Fork Chattooga River Hike

Filed under: Hiking — Linda @ 6:49 am

This weeks hike was from the Walhalla Fish Hatchery down the East Fork of the Chattooga River to the main Chattooga and then north along the river towards Ellicott Rock.  I found a new hiking app and I was ready to test it out.  As always my posts are photo heavy but as they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”…

Seven of us met at the Fish Hatchery and started down the East Fork trail.  Down being the operative word.  Hiking down is easy you say?  Yes it is until you turn around after nearly 4.5 miles and the have to hike UP to get back to your car.  But I digress.  The first mile or so is relatively flat with a couple of well built bridges over small tributary streams.

01 SmallTributaryCrossing02 Crossing East Fork

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A little over a mile in we had what I call a minor water crossing.

03 WaterCrossingMinor because the stones are well placed, flat and not wobbly :)   Over the next mile the trail drops over 500 feet in elevation.

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TheWall

This massive rock wall is so impressive but you don’t dare look and walk at the same time.  Trail Trolls were about.  You don’t know about Trail Trolls?  Oh they are mischievous creatures.  Masters of disguise, they lie in wait for you to walk by.  Then they reach out and grab the toe of your shoe and WHAM! down you go.  I managed to get a photo of one while laying on the ground…you know….after he tripped me.

RhodyRootsSee!  See his hand?   Sneaky bugger.

Another small creek crossing over this very nicely constructed stone bridge before we meet the main branch of the Chattooga River.

StoneBridge04 Chatooga River

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The river is beautiful, clean and clear.  We looked and looked but never saw any fish.

We walked along the river past a perfect spot for a nice lunch break but hike leader had other plans.  It was Ellicott Rock or Bust!  Well the trail got narrower and trickier.

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Somewhere around here about a year ago, one of our hikers fell and broke her leg.  Bad.  Her hiking partner had to hike out two hours just to get a cell signal to call for Rescue.  They had to helicopter her out.  And it was somewhere in here this hike that one of the ladies fell this trip.  She was uninjured but three of us decided we didn’t need to see Ellicott’s Rock that bad  and headed back to that nice little picnic spot on the river.  There were even chairs!

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The three of us sat and listened to the river, ate our lunches and were about to start napping in the sun when the rest of the gang returned.  They sat and rested and ate their lunches before we started back.

Some of the hikers are very knowledgeable of the plants, flowers & trees.  We didn’t see much this trip; too cold for mushrooms and just a bit early for serious Spring blooms.  We did see lots of little purple butterflies near the water, some wild yellow violets and this really large, very interesting Polypore.

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Polypore are a hard, tough, fungi usually found on downed, dead or dying hardwoods.  This one was on a living pine and it was huge!  Both my hands would barely cover it.  It had to be years & years old.

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.I had seen this Rhododendron near the start of the hike on the way down but I made the excuse to rest a minute on the way up & out to take its photo.

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It has a real will to live thats for sure.

All photos were taken with my cell phone.  This hike was 8.2 miles, had an elevation change of 500 feet and took 4 hours 40 minutes to complete.  Whew!

March 14, 2014

Spring is…Springing

Filed under: Actual Knitting, Spring — Linda @ 11:12 am

I’m nursing a mild cold so I didn’t hike yesterday.  I did take some cell phone photos this morning as I walked around the house.

Camellia - The Rose of Winter

Camellia - The Rose of Winter

Native Dogwood

Native Dogwood

Neighbors Bradford Pears

Neighbors Bradford Pears

Peonies - A gift from my sister PJ

Peonies - A gift from my sister PJ

And look at this!  Knitting!!

Sock Progress

Sock Progress

I joined a Mystery Sock A-long on Ravelry.  I am avoiding ‘Second Sock Syndrome’ by knitting them both at the same time.  I tried to knit them on circular needles but well with the Picot cast on, charts & lace it was just easier for me to do it this way.  They are my first real socks knit with real sock yarn.  I don’t anything the easy way.  A nice simple vanilla sock pattern would have been no challenge at all :)

And in other Fibery News – I have been asked by my local yarn store to teach a Crochet Class!  And the first class is sold out !  Just a bit excited and a tad nervous.  It’s just  ’presenters’ nerves.  I’ve been crocheting 40 years (OMG) so it’s not like I don’t know my subject.  Just need to organize the agenda and when that fails just wing it!  LOL!  Fortunately some of the students are ladies from our Monday Night Knit night so there will be friendly faces.

March 3, 2014

Chimneytop Gap to Sassafras Mountain- Again

Filed under: Hiking — Linda @ 6:22 am

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The Happy Huggy Hikers once again traversed a 5.4 mile trail from Chimney Top to Sassafras Mountain, part of the Foothills Trail.  It was 21F and breezy when I left the house.  I feared it would be a miserable hike.  Turned out the weather wasn’t my problem.  My butt was dragging!  Even at the start I was out of breath too easily & too soon.  And I didn’t even have the excuse as some did.  Alan had gone skiing the day before and Brenda had tilled her garden.  Luckily I wasn’t the only one dragging so I didn’t feel bad calling for a ‘water break’.  Harry, our lead hiker, took pity on us and slowed the pace a bit and we took our time.

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At least this trip the leaves weren’t knee deep and we could see our footing.  Being able to see where you’re putting your feet doesn’t help with the relentless uphill climb that is this trail.  This trail is not known for flowers and it’s still too early for much anyway but we did see one, lone, tiny little violet that we all stopped to admire.

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The trail starts out steep for about the first mile then levels out somewhat near a logging area.  The logging began in 1971 and was replanted in 1972.  Well it looks like they are in the midst of logging it again.   This area was a mess compared to when we were here in November.  It was really kind of depressing to see the tree debris and scarred land.

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But we found beauty elsewhere.  The sky was so clear and blue -

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And some Turkey tail mushrooms survived the winter with their colors -

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The last .3 mile of trail is brutal!  It’s not unlike climbing an inoperable escalator.  But the view.  What a View!

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It’s a two hour uphill hike to this view and it is breathtaking.  As is the climb, LOL!

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On these Thursday hikes we rarely encounter other hikers.  But on this hike just as we completed our lunch break, a group of bicyclists arrived.  They arrived, observed the view, took photos and left!

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I would have thought with this view and after a 30 mile ride, most of it uphill, that they would have lingered a bit longer.

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I think I’ll drive my family up to enjoy the view this summer.  Yes, you can drive here.  And having hiked this trail twice, I will feel no guilt at all about it at all :)

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February 21, 2014

Natural Bridge – Raven Rock Trails

Filed under: Hiking — Linda @ 8:36 pm

Raven Rock Trail is a quiet 4.2 loop trail in the 1,000 acre Keowee-Toxaway State Natural Area in the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just minutes from my home.

Trail Head Kiosk

Brenda checking the Trail Head Kiosk

We started on the Natural bridge Trail loop which is a shorter loop trail that can be done by itself or as we did, combined with Raven Rock Trail for a longer hike.   The trails are described as ‘moderately strenuous’ but I wasn’t worried.  I mean this is the shortest hike I’ve done with the Huggers how tough can it be?  After a couple of seven mile hikes how bad could one just a little over four be?

Not five minutes into the hike there is a nice trailside bench.  No view or anything so I’m  thinking ‘huh, bit soon for a break’.   We’ll come back to that later.

The Natural Bridge Trail is so named for this enormous boulder that naturally bridges Poe Creek.  This area is full of Rhododendrons and like all the other trails we’ve hiked this winter it’s going to be stunning when in bloom.

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Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

After crossing Poe Creek it’s an up & down and up & down and did I mention it was a lot of up & down? I dislike going down early in the hike as that means I have to climb up & out when I’m tired and all I want is to sit down and have a cold beer! So we continued the trek round McKinney Mountain.  All this up & down lead to another up, about the half way point I figure, to a beautiful rocky outcrop with amazing views to the west and of Lake Keowee.
Lake Keowee

Lake Keowee

Lake Keowee

Lake Keowee

There was a group of 17 hikers lunching at this point but we had another spot in mind for lunch.  From here it was down, down, down (again with the down!) to a peninsula with a couple primitive tent camp sites  Yeah!  A place to sit :)  and a nice lake views and a view of the Cliffs/Vineyards golf course.  We rested here, had lunch and rested some more.  It was a pretty day, not too warm for hiking but the humidity was around 90%.
Borrowed from http://www.discoversouthcarolina.com/Insider/Outdoor/Blog/1117

Borrowed from http://www.discoversouthcarolina.com/Insider/Outdoor/Blog/1117

Obviously I didn’t take this photo…the season is totally wrong ;-/ ….I totally forgot to take a photo.  But this IS the camp site where we lunched.   After we were well rested and I managed to get my body moving again, we started up again.

The trails are well marked and cushioned with a soft bed of crushed leaves, stairs are built with stones I’m sure were found not far afield and there are large outcrops of boulders that would offer shelter from bad weather.
That's a nice Boulder

That's a nice Boulder

Once again we had to cross Poe Creek, it’s a little wider here nearer the lake.  Harry went across and kept careful watch  for the rest of us.
Harry leads the way

Harry leads the way

Stream crossings can be tricky.  Rocks placed by previous hikers can be wobbly and any rock near or in the stream can be extremely slippery.  So it’s nice to have someone go first and someone to make sure we all get across in one piece.
Allen makes sure we all make it

Allen makes sure we all make it

We’re started seeing some Spring popping up!
Trout Lilly in bud

Trout Lilly in bud

Spring is gonna be bustin’ out all over the place here pretty soon!
This weeks hikers

This weeks hikers

Update:  A couple of the Huggers stopped in at Nine Times Preserve and found more Spring!
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Flowers & snakes, Yup Spring is on it’s way!
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So the stats on this hike are:  4.3 miles,  1,743ft elevation gain, with an active hiking time of 3 hours.  One of these days I’ll have to figure out how many miles I’ve hiked, how much elevation I’ve climbed and how long it took.

February 7, 2014

Hiking the Winding Stairs Trail

Filed under: Hiking — Linda @ 12:00 am

With a name like “Winding Stairs” one would expect to do some serious climbing.   But this 3.5 mile (one way) trail has such a gentle grade and easy footing, it’s often recommended for beginners. This trail is a very old logging road that nature is trying to reclaim. You can see where machinery cut into the hillsides wide enough for the road but the rhododendron and mountain laurel are creeping in and there is now a much narrower path.

Winding Stairs Trail

Winding Stairs Trail

Seven of us started about 10am at the southern trailhead on Tamassee Road in order to tackle the 1,100 feet increase in elevation at the start of our hike, which is my preference.  I would much rather get the climbing done while I’m fresh instead of climbing out when I’m tired.  The temperature was probably in the high 30’s or low 40’s but we quickly shed our gloves & hats as we climbed.

The trail follows the along the West Fork of Townes Creek for a good ways and about a miles or so up the you can really hear the water rushing over Miuka Falls.  There is a very short spur trail where you can get a view of the two-tier, 75 foot falls.Miuka Falls

Miuka Falls

Beyond Miuka Falls, the trail continues to zigzag the hillside, crossing a number of brooks (8) and traveling through groves filled with rhododendron and mountain laurel.  About another mile up the trail we got a nice view of Lake Cherokee.  You probably won’t be able to see this in any other season.

Lake Cherokee

Lake Cherokee

In the deep shade we even found some melting icicles.

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We stopped at the northern trail head just off Highway 107, where we had our lunches alongside bright mushrooms and moss covered logs.

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Temperatures seemed cooler here and we quickly finished lunch to start the 3.5 mile hike back down.  All in all it is a very nice hike and I would consider it a beginner hike if done one-way.  Seven miles is too long for a beginner in my humble opinion.

Winding Stairs Hike February 2014

Winding Stairs Hike February 2014

January 31, 2014

Old Man Winter

Filed under: Life, Weather, Winter — Linda @ 12:28 pm
11Alive News

11Alive News

Did you see the Atlanta Snow Mess?  Yea.  ELPH drove through there on Wednesday (after his Tuesday flight was cancelled) to get to the airport.  Not this particular stretch of road but he said it was an obstacle course of abandon vehicles.   He also said it was stupid and that he should have postponed his trip.  For some reason Delta called me to notify us his Saturday 6am flight out of El Paso was cancelled.  As was the Saturday afternoon flight and the Sunday flights.  WTH?  So he worked late into the night last night and booked on another airline for today (at HALF the price Delta was going to charge!) and he’ll be home this evening.  Yeah!

It’s been a weird weather year.  Lots and lots and lots of rain last Spring & Summer, and now this Wicked Winter.  Thursdays hike has been cancelled two weeks in a row, once because of the sub-freezing temps and this past week because of Tuesday/Wednesday snow.  OK so we got an inch of snow.  Nothing compared to the ten inches they received in Chicago where one of my sisters lives.  But we simply are not equipped down here to get this stuff off the roads…as in NO snow plows at all.  Luckily between the sunshine & 35F temperatures yesterday most of the snow has melted.  Unless you live in a hilly shaded area then you are still stuck where you are.  Most roads were dry yesterday so I was lucky enough to be able to get into town and back without any danger but some of my friends are stuck home up in the hills and still without water.

Still working on the Through The Loop Mystery Socks.  I’ve actually been reading and re-reading the pattern & chart.  This is a miracle because I don’t typically read directions. (Directions?  I don’t need no stinking directions!)  I just peruse them and say “oh, I can do that” and jump head-long into the pattern.  Then I end up frogging the thing 9 times before I break down and read figure it out.  Matter of fact I was so sure that I did something wrong the directions were wrong that I emailed my sister in Virginia explaining in great detail & imagery what the problem was and….figured out I’m an idiot who can’t read.  sigh.  It’s all good now and I’ll see if I can’t post some progress pics later today after I clean house.  Yes, I do clean house.   If someone is coming over. Just before ELPH gets home from business. Occasionally. :)

January 29, 2014

Snow and Sock Knitting

Filed under: Actual Knitting, Snow, Weather, Winter — Linda @ 12:10 pm

snowOriginally being from the Chicago area and then spending several years in my early 20’s in Steamboat Springs Colorado, I find it comical that the schools were closed due to the snow today.  No I didn’t shovel the sidewalk.  The snow never accumulated on the hard surfaces here.  When I took the dog out this morning the roads in the neighborhood were quite slippery and I must admit I probably would not have been able to get my truck up and out of the drive because of the thin layer of ice.

Atlanta is about 90 miles south of here and we saw on the news that they received even more snow than we did.  Some poor souls were stuck in traffic in their cars all night long.
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Photo courtesy of  11 Alive News Atlanta

It’s almost noon and just barely 32F.  But the sun is shining and it’s very pretty to look at, especially from my fireside knitting chair.

And speaking of knitting.  I’m attempting Socks.  Real socks made with real sock yarn on teeny tiny size 1 needles.  I’m a slooow knitter and have the attention span of a gnat.  Reading and following directions are not natural to me :)   BUT I joined a Mystery Knit-a-Long on Ravelry because it would dole out the pattern in stages.  Week 1 the cuff, just ten rows.  Week 2 the leg, 3 the heel, 4 the gusset and 5 the toe.  I figured this was just my speed.  I mean who can’t knit ten rows (or 20 if I started the second sock) in a week?  Um, me.  It is now Week 3 and I have just managed to get both socks to the Week 2 stage.

Socks - Week 1

Socks - Week 1

For those interested it has a Picot cast on for a frilly edge on the cuff.  Week 2 is the leg and it has a pretty pattern all down the front and some of the back.  I might get it done before July ;-/  Of course if we get more snow I may finish earlier :D

January 21, 2014

Palmetto Connector – Hike 2 of 2014

Filed under: Hiking — Linda @ 6:09 am

Oconee State park via Palmetto Connector

We started our Thursday adventure at the Station Cove Falls trailhead parking lot.  The first half mile is a very relaxing ‘walk in the park’.   Very little green here in winter except a few partridge berries and some Christmas ferns.   There is a small kiosk and a “gate” to prevent vehicles from proceeding to the falls.    There is a small six foot waterfall just to the right of the trail not far into the hike.

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From the Station Cove Falls turn off point we began the climb to Oconee State Park.  The first quarter of the hike is a set of switchbacks which take you up about a 1,000 feet to the ridge/old logging road.  We continued on the ridge for the rest of the 3.2 miles.  The trail footing is very comfortable with a bed of  leaves and pine needles and some  small gravel covered with leaves which was more comfortable going up than down.

Once we gained the ridge we could see for miles and miles through the leafless hardwoods along the ridge. We found a US Geological Survey marker that told us that we were indeed 1,633 feet above sea level.

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The views from the ridge are wonderful in Winter.  I imagine come Spring and Summer you wont see much through here.

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The trail is well marked with yellow two part blazes like a big fat i. Toward the upper end the trail is crossed by the Foothills Trail and there are signs to Tamassee Knob and Hidden Falls.  We did meet two lone hikers.  One was a really tall fellow with a friendly dog who said he hiked the area daily.  He told us where to find the geological survey marker behind a big white oak and a small rock shelter in case of lightning.  Luckily not a chance of that because the seven of us would not have fit in that very small shelter.  After we crossed the Foothills Trail our trail veered off to the left and we were off the logging road we had been walking.   Close to the uphill end of the hike is a large bog with what looks like acres of running pine clubmoss.  In these sheltered areas we found ice in large puddles left from recent rains and this…

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Natural Ice Sculptures!  Water  squeezed right out of the ground, frozen in the midst of being pushed out.  It was very cool to see.  Other water features on the hike were at least half a dozen large frozen puddles with thin ice which were easily avoided and a bog-pond with scattered logs in which we all rinsed off our shoes.  On this sunny day, though, the bog was really pretty.

We crossed the Foothills Trail near the Oconee State Park end.  There was some green to be found.  This Club Moss or Running Pine was very pretty and lush for all it’s 3 inches in height.  I half expected tiny Fairies to have trails of their own through them.

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Oconee State Park HikeThe destination point of the hike was a welcome picnic table where we stopped for lunch.  After some of our other destinations like Bald Rock and the “Narrows” it was a bit anti-climatic.  We did not linger here long after lunch  as the wind started to blow and cool down our sunny day.  I really need to get a thermos for coffee or soup for these chilly days.

The trip back may be down hill but it’s not always easiest on the knees.  Even with the Trekking Poles.  On the way back the switchback section seemed mercifully shorter and we were glad to see the Station Cove Falls Trail.  Somehow, this one was tiring on the way back.  Even though we were close, we elected to forego the Station Cove Falls.  The couple of charming small waterfalls that we passed on the connector trail—really just water running off the rocks and under the trail – would have to do us for today.

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This was an out and back hike for us totaling 6.5 miles.  We started about 9:30 and were back at the cars by 2:15.  Six and a half or seven miles is my limit.  It was all I could do to lift my leg high enough to get in the car, LOL!  Once home an showered I fell asleep on the sofa before dinner.  But boy do I love these hikes!  Really :D

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