Tuesday, January 26, 2016

2016-01-24 Blue Wall Passage of the Palmetto Trail

Blue Wall Passage of the Palmetto Trail
Snow Hike with Keith
Greenville County, SC
Sunday, January 24th, 2016

At the Lower Pond along the Blue Wall Passage of the Palmetto Trail

Our original plan was to do a snow hike to the top of Bearwallow Mountain along the Henderson/Buncombe, NC county line.  However, Keith heard reports that even 4x4s with chains were getting stuck on Bearwallow Moutain Road.  So we opted for a different snow hike with a little easier access.

The Blue Wall Passage of the Palmetto Trail is located in the far North-East Corner of Greenville County, SC.  This area got about 8-inches of snow of Friday making it deep enough that there would still be plenty left, but not too deep to make hiking overly difficult.

I am glad we decided to meet in Columbus and take my car to the trailhead, because there is no way that Keith's FWD Saturn would have made it all the way around Lake Lanier to the Blue Wall Passage Trailhead.  Fortunately "Wallie", my AWD Subaru was built for these type of conditions and had no major problems making it to the trailhead.

 Wallie all alone at the Trailhead Parking Area

The Blue Wall Passage of the Palmetto Trail

The first part of the hike follows a wide-track old road and is rather easy.  We were soon greeted by a very scenic Pond with Hogback Mountain looming above.  There was virtually no wind making for some nice reflection shots.

 Hogback Mountain Reflection

I have been here several times and never knew there was a waterfall just downstream from this Pond.  Keith was proud to lead the way to show off a waterfall that was brand new to me.  As far as I know, this one does not have a name.

Looking down from the top of the waterfall

I wasn't planning or prepared to do any bushwhacking today, but I just could not resist trying to get down to the base.  This was no easy task in these conditions!  There is a lot of deadfall at the base and it is difficult to capture the whole thing in one shot.  Fortunately the snow and ice still made for an interesting shot!

Un-named waterfall downstream from the lower pond
Can you find Keith in this photo?

We continued on to the second (upper) pond.  Since the upper pond is much shallower, and a little smaller it tends to ice over sooner than the lower pond.  

The Second (Upper) Pond

The main trail heads towards the left along the south side of the pond.  We decided to turn right and hike the side loop that encircles the pond.

Keith crossing a snow covered bridge

After a short distance we arrived at our second waterfall of the day.  I have been to this one before, but never in the snow and never with this much flow.  Still not the most impressive waterfall, but definitely prettier than I have ever seen it!

Un-Named Waterfall Upstream from the Upper Pond

We continued on around the lake through a beautiful snow covered forest.  It is obvious that this area is home to a bunch of beavers as their dams have sectioned off this pond into several smaller ponds.

Keith by one of the Beaver Ponds

For a longer and much more difficult hike, we could have continued on to Vaughn's Gap, but we elected to stick with just the easy parts around the ponds.

 Face in the Water

We had the place all to ourselves starting out, but a few more humans were out and about by the time we finished up.  One of these other humans had built a series of mini-snowmen along the trail!

 Mini Snowman and Keith's Boot

Mini Snowman overlooking the Lower Pond and Hogback Mountain

Our total hike was only about 3 miles with very little elevation change.

On the drive out, I made a stop at one of the pull-offs to check out and photograph Lake Lanier.

 Wallie and Keith at Lake Lanier

 Lake Lanier, SC

Lake Lanier, SC

It was another beautiful day to be outside.

The complete set of photos is posted here:

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