Foothills Trail Day 7 and Palmetto Trail Day 3
Foothills Trail Day 7
Nantahala National Forest
Laurel Fork Heritage Preserve
Jocassee Gorge Wildlife Management Area
Rained during the night and I thought it let up enough to pack up, but immediately it started again. It will be a constant downpour for most of the day. Not enough to have to wear gloves but enough to keep that chill when you stopped. This made the trail slick climbing up hills. Noticed a couple hours into the hike that I was soaking wet. My jacket was not zipped up all the way, so corrected that. Normally I am a hot hiker so not sure if this was due to the rain or me sweating, but the back of my brain wonders if my jacket is a bit old. It has followed me around for 4k plus miles. Luckily in South Carolina, I am not expecting any more subfreezing temperatures. I will stick it out for now and wait until another storm to see if it is something I may have to switch out, before starting the PCT.
The climb coming out of Virginia Hawkins Campsite seemed pretty long. Eventually I made it to the Eastatoe Gorge parking lot and had an educational information on the trailhead sign. I did stop and read everything on the different land areas and regulations. To cold to stay for to long so followed the road across a highway and started the otherside. Even in the rain the area was nice, definitely preferred the part of the trail that blocked the wind. I eventually run into 4 hikers coming down the mountain but it was just in passing. The climb has me pooped and the weather is cold, this time I’m not chatty. Just when I am questioning my distance and speed I pop out the bushes to the top of Sassafras Mountain. This is the highest point in South Carolina. The lookout reminds me of Clingmans Dome on the AT. Walking up the ramp to very limited views, due to the weather. The top is on the border of both Carolinas. Once on the other side I get to an intersection of the Foothills Trail and the Palmetto Trail.
After passing through the kiosk board for this passage I can definitely tell I am back on the Palmetto Trail. The trail starts as an easy dirt path, covered in wet pine needles, then switches to an old forest road. Not as rugged as the Foothills Trail has been the last week. I would say that I sautered a bit when I started this, even with the rain. The trailed followed Rock Mountain with open views during the descent. I skipped the Carolina Hemlock Trail and continued forward on the road. Elevation dropped downward about 1300 feet, at the bottom was the best water source of the Passage. The climb going back up was about 550 feet but not gradually. It’s getting the end of the day for me so it may have seemed longer. But at the top of the Ridge I run into the next Passage of the Palmetto Trail. I follow the signs for a primitive campsite and find a spot for one tent and a iron firepit.
The rain has slowed down to a trickle, but unpacking to set up the tent I noticed that my large bag did not stop water from getting in the backpack. Everything was soaked for the night. I put the tent up and used my nightshirt as a towel and wiped everything up inside. Then put on my base layers and socks which were damp but not wet. My stuff sack kept most of my nighttime clothes somewhat dry. Luckily I run hot, after a few hours my body heat dried out my clothes and even though my sleeping bag was wet, I felt the heat starting to rise. I will have to find a contractors bag instead of the garbage bag I started with.
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