Sat, Aug 21 2004 - Chattooga River wilderness backpack and hikes on the Foothills Trail to four beautiful waterfalls (View Original Event Details)|
|Participants:||Don Norton (Chicken Feathers), Meredith Fletcher, Michael Aubertine, , Angela, Ganesh Chellappan, Kiran Puttaswamy, Emily Boness, John Robertson, Caitlin Stark, Don Hayes, Sharon Baldwin, Bruce|
After it became clear that we had lost one person only, and had waited some twenty minutes, Johns luxuriously large van and two other cars left on I-85 north for exit 1 in South Carolina. About 50 miles, into the trip; there was a series of gaudy red lettered -on bright yellow background signs meant to lure innocent truckers-- advertising ‘TOPLESS! TOPLESS!’ (with exit number, etc); but me being unnaturally facetious and wired for the trip, began building on this theme(-what if it was a place for attracting females, it would be BOTTOMLESS!, BOTTOMLESS!, etc.) This was to be a recurring theme, and with repeated exposure, mutated through many variations throughout the weekend; and has been suggested for my trailname for all time to come ‘Topless, Bottomless’. (Had to be there to fully understand). After many laughs in our van load of people, including –trailname-‘Fruitloops’ -Angela Nelson(—what she had for breakfast-part of Angelas’ excuse for being wired early, as I was, on sugared cereal), we arrived at our trailhead.
We put on our packs in our small parking area next to the trail, and walked on the downhill trail, keeping a good pace, to our first stop at Lick Log Falls, to have a good backpackless rest. There we met a group of four friendly and nice men and women (and their two dogs) from lowland South Carolina; whose association would help us towards the end of our trip, walking out. Our pace slowed a bit with exhaustion, as the mileage I based the trip on was from an erroneous mileage listed on the Chattooga River wilderness map. Our mileage was at least five miles in, if not slightly more. The weather was counter to the ominous forecast, with blue skies, starting cool and never oppressively hot; and a little humid; but lovely altogether. The hiking workout walking in primed many of us to jump into the nice swimming hole at our riverfront campsite, after we had set up our tents; and many enjoyed a long swim, dip, in the chilly waters of the Chattooga River. After at least 45 minutes of enjoyment, all but three of us decided to make the hike, some two miles each way to Big Bend Falls in daygear. We made it in just under an hour, most making their way down to the top of the falls; but three intrepid explorers; Michael, Kiran and I became friends and ‘one’ with the rock wall and root grabbed down the the full frontal view of the falls; which is quite spectacular. After a hard scramble out, we met the rest at the top of the trail, and made our way back to gather firewood, have dinner and get ready for the nights’ festivities. After Michael, the firemeister (‘Burn’-trailname) started a good fire, and we all cooked, and passed around our various dinners for tasting by others; and there were many good flavors available; we talked and socialized; Don Norton ‘copped a few Z’s’, after dinner, joined us later. After the light went down in the sky completely, the fire kept the scene light along with generous light provided by Joe Bakers beautiful little gas lantern. These two lit our Yahtzee game, brought (and some say rigged) by Caitlin Stark, who mysteriously got two Yahtzee’s and won. Afterwards, Kiran baffled many, (including himself a couple of times); but mostly the crowd, by showing us all a good card trick; which a few tried just a little too hard to figure out the logic of, deep into the evening. The riddling came after, with Michael’s ‘a man pushes a car past a hotel-why?’-Riddle-- Yes or No answer questions only allowed; with myself and Joe excluded, because we already knew the answer from previous exposure. Interspersed, with all of these activities was smore making and consuming done mostly by professional Smore chef Sharon Baldwin, with able assistance from Don Hayes and smore virgin; Angela ‘fruitloops’ Nelson. Angela lost her ‘smore-ginity’ soon after, and found the concoction too sweet with ingredients of Ghiradelli chocolate squares, Kraft marshmallows and of course graham crackers. (packed in by the fearless leader for everyone’s enjoyment)
Also generously provided by John R., and enjoyed by several, was some fine alcoholic beverages with ‘Fierce Blue’ gatorade as a chaser. This got coyote-like howls from myself, ‘fruit loops’ and John.
After the fire died down, and was spread and put out, by myself and others, several readied tents for slumber; and seven stargazers snuck off into the beautiful evening, without inviting the fearless leader, who was unaware, and would love to have gone along. Four of the group got back early, and later group of three (Don, Fruit Loops and Sharon, came by my tent; Sharon softly speaking the words ‘Topless, Bottomless’; which got an enthusiastic reply--‘TOPLESS, BOTTOMLESS!’- Backwoods of South Carolina! from the still fully awake fearless leader inside; and a giggles from both Angela and Sharon. It was music to my comic ears, and good repayment for missing the stars.
The night’s rest and turning in was soon interrupted by chattering of an animal kind characteristic of the bandits of the night-raccoons. While Michael and myself shooed them away (we thought) from the hung food bag, with flashlights and talking; the morning showed their mischief. They had chewed into the bags, but not gotten any of the food stores, but had opened Sharon’s backpack, and spread it over a wide area.
After having breakfast, and waking a sound slumbering Kiran; we broke down the camp tents; and made our way out on the longer trail out (more uphill), with much socializing among a friendly group of people I was blessed with again. The weather was overcast, and we got a few light and refreshing sprinkles; and arrived tired from the workout, to Licklog Falls, where our previously mentioned friends were packing up and looking to get rid of their watermelon and a gallon of water. This provided several of us with water refills; and many more with a good slice of well appreciated rehydrating delicious watermelon, while we rested with backpacks off for the final push uphill and out. The uphill was punishing to myself and others, despite the rest; and aggravated Angela’s knee; and she waited at the graveled parking lot on the way out, for a ride from our friends from South Carolina; who came to our aid once again-Thank you so much!
Caitlin and Joe, who had to leave early to get to work and other commitments scooted ahead of the exhausted fearless leader and others and made their way out fast enough to wave to myself as I broke into the clearing next to Highway 107. Because of Angela’s injury and other early return concerns, and general exhaustion, we skipped driving to King Creek Falls, and just returned home and most of us had a nice socializing dinner at Lupita’s, near the Indian Trail park and ride lot, before saying our goodbyes.
This was a good time with another great social group, with many good laughs and general enjoyment; and I thank you all for being part of another fun event; one I will personally remember for a long time! And as always, thanks to God for great weather again which was the opposite of the weatherman’s forecast, and added to all of our enjoyment of the weekend.
Written By: Bruce Aldridge
Photos From: none