Thursday, October 22, 2009

South Carolina's Up Country

We took off from our spot at Hartwell Lake the other day to explore northwest South Carolina.  To start our tour we chose a 72-mile scenic loop

through national forests in the Blue Ridge foothills, seeing a few historic sites, mountain vistas, waterfalls and forest trails. Our first stop was the Oconee Station State Historic Site just off S.C. 11. The station was built in 1792 with 20 inch thick stone walls. It was a military post defending white settlers from Indian attacks and later was a part of a trading depot. It's quite a structure. Looks as though it will still be standing in another 300 years. 

In 1805  an Irishman named William Richards built his home, also used as a trading post, just 50 feet away from the station. I'm relaxing here on his front porch for a while. How this man could afford to build this two-story brick home in a place where log cabins were the norm, or how he got the materials into this remote location is a real wonder.  Maybe it did him in since he died only four years after building his home.  At that time, his estate included 30,000 deer skins, 329 bear skins and 82 pds of ginseng.  What a trader!
Moving along on our trek for the day we decided to stop at the Upper Whitewater Falls one of the 30 waterfalls in Oconee County.  The overlook is a spectacular spot in the Nantahala National Forest. The falls were thundering down the mountain about 200 to 300 feet with the forest surrounding it. Our photo doesn't do justice to the sight. But we can only say, WOW!
  Then moving south on S.C. 107 we soaked up some spectacular mountain and lake overlooks. Here at the Wigington Overlook we came across  two hospitable SC ladies who recommended more scenic roadways and local stops. We all enjoyed looking at Lake Jocasee in the distance and the Blue Ridge vistas.

A little further south, along SC28, we followed Burrell's Ford Road toward Chatooga River for a hike into the Sumter National Forest.  It was a warm, sunny day. Great time to get out in the woods for a while. And we noticed on our loop map a place called Spoonauger Falls.  Sounded like something we should see.  After getting redirected by  a friendly hiker and fisherman, we found the trail that split off over a rise to a hidden spot. And voila.... there's Spoonauger Falls.  Not as spectacular as the grandiose one earlier in the day, but very special in its own way.  A secluded and peaceful contrast.  This spot made us  want to stay a while and watch and listen and smell. Just us.  Enjoyed it very much.  We decided to complete this day's exploring on that note. There's always tomorrow.

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