Monday, April 11, 2011

Jocassee Gorge Hike

Jocassee Gorge Hike
with the Uptate Hiking and Outdoor Adventures Group

Pickens County, SC
Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Photos are posted here:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/580031894uzBhBp

Slide Show Format:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/slideshow/580031894uzBhBp


On Saturday, I joined the Upstate Hiking and Outdoor Adventures Group on a hike into the Jocassee Gorge Area. They were planning an "8 to 9 mile" loop hike that encompassed a good bit of terrain I've yet to explore.

A few months ago, I picked up a really good (and free) map of the area at the Table Rock Visitor's Center, but I seemed to have lost it. So I gave myself some extra time to pick up a new one and snap a few photos around the Visitors Center.
Table Rock Panorama


Table Rock Visitors Center

After picking up my new map and taking a few photos, I continued on to meet the group which was supposed to be at the gas station at the intersection of Hwy11 and US178 by 9:30am.

I started to get a little concerned as 9:45am passed by without the rest of the group showing up. Maybe the forecast of severe afternoon thunder showers was enough to cancel the hike? I decided to give it another few minutes and if they still don't show up my plan was to head back to Table Rock State Park for a solo hike!

Just before 10:00am as I was about to give up on the group they arrived and we caravanned on to the trailhead.

There was a total of (12) humans plus (2) dogs on the hike. Normally dogs are not allowed on the Upstate Hiking Group hikes, but since "Coop" was leading the hike he made an exception and brought along Jake and Shammy, his two Cocker Spaniels.

Jake and Shammy

We started the hike on "Mill Creek Road", which is a gated forest service road. A small creek cascades down below the path making for a pleasant hike. There is one minor stream crossing which I was able to rock hop across, but several others ended up with wet feet.
Crossing the creek

After the stream crossing the road starts a steady uphill climb. This time of year the forest is overflowing with blooms.
Dogwood Bloom

I used to not like hiking in larger groups because my hiking pace tends to be faster than most people. Nowadays, I enjoy it more because the slower pace of group hikes gives me plenty opportunities to stop and take photos. In fact, two of my favorite shots of the day would likely have been missed if I was hiking on my own.
Buzzing around a Dwarf Iris

A Huge Toad!

Mill Creek Road eventually ends at a T-Intersection with Old Horse Pasture Road. Since Wild Turkey season has started this Forest Service Road is open to vehicle traffic giving hunters better access into the SCDNR Game Lands.

Most of us were wearing bright orange and none of us resembled a Wild Turkey, so we weren't really concerned about it being hunting season. We did run across several hunters, but over the course of the day we didn't hear a single gun shot.
Caroline chatting with a hunter

The worst part of the hike was the steep climb up Old Horse Pasture Road made even worse by truckloads of loose rock which was recently spread over the road. The rocks might help prevent erosion, but they sure don't make for a pleasant hiking surface!

Old Horse Pasture Road meets up with Horse Pasture Road at another T-Intersection. Turning left would take us to the Jumping-Off Rock overlook which we visited a few months ago. Today we would turn right and head to a few other overlook areas.

Hazy view of the Laurel Fork of Lake Jocassee

While not as impressive as the Jumping-Off Rock Overlook, several spots did offer up some nice views and made for a great spot to take our main lunch break for the day.  And of course, Iggy used the break as his opportuntiy to crawl out of my pack

Iggy

After lunch we continued North-East on Horse Pasture Road and turned right on Bill Morgan Road to continue our loop. We eventually turned off of Bill Morgan onto some other old logging roads that do not show up on my map.

We made it back to the vehicles with no issues, but based on Tim's GPS the hike ended up being 11 miles instead of the original estimate of 8 to 9 miles. I felt about a dozen raindrops near the end of the hike, but thankfully the severe storms completely missed us.

This hike would definitely not go on any of my "must do" hike lists, but it was still very enjoyable none the less.

Thanks "Coop" for taking the lead on this one. There is a CD with over 100 Jake and Shammy Photos on the way to your house!
Jake and Shammy

The full set of photos is posted here:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/580031894uzBhBp

Slide Show Format:
http://outdoors.webshots.com/slideshow/580031894uzBhBp

4 comments:

Pat Fitzpatrick said...

Jack, I hope you're on all my hikes. Love the photos and blogs. Do you white water raft? Check out May 21.

Anonymous said...

Jack,

Great summary. Very enjoyable hike and your
photos after the hike make it even more enjoyable. The pictures of the flowers, insects, Jake and Shammy are absolutely fantastic. The clarity makes it seem like you can reach out and touch them. Shammy and I are fall / winter hikers because it did get hot and was really too much for him on Saturday but he is a real storm trooper. Jake is just a bundle of energy and nothing bothers him as long as he can run and hunt the woods. I think the dogs added entertainment and motivation to the hike but that will be it until maybe 2012. Thanks in advance for the CD. "Coop"

Jack said...

Thanks Pat and Coop! I have never been Whitewater Rafting. I might give it a try sometime!

HemlockMan said...

Doesn't look like a very good hike. Any hike that would put me with an ATV would be on my do-not-go list.