Palmetto Trail Day 18-20 – Enoree Passage
When Coleman dropped me off at Sedalia Campground I start the largest Passage to date, just under 37 miles. A week prior I submitted a request with the US Forest Service to disburse camp in the Sumter National Forest. It is a very easy permit to obtain by downloading a form on their website then submitting to the appropriate agency. I received approval within 24 hours.
I am excited to be walking through a National Forest and being able to set up a spot to sleep whenever and wherever I please. This is the type of hiking that I am accustomed to. The first night is just six miles in, since I am dropped off mid afternoon. It is through a winding trail around three different lakes that were very popular with fisherman. I ran into quite a few as the trail was right on the shore and over each grassy dam.
Once I felt it was time to set up camp, I filled up both liters of water for the night. I was uphill from a small pooled area of water. It looked quite swampy but I’m unsure if I am actually in a swamp. The further South I get in SC it is getting warmer and I ensure that I start checking for ticks at night. Have to say I am surprised that so far I have not run into a mosquitos yet. I am positive they will arrive soon enough.
This first night is amazing. As the sun goes down and it gets dark, the frogs start singing, it is a nice rhythm that is easy to fall asleep too, I also hear an owl nearby. Sometime in the night I do here two things. First would be something big walking/swimming in the water, maybe deer? Then later in the night I am waking up to a large crash. A tree fell into the water below and it was soooo loud. I have heard trees fall in the woods before and it is always surprising and exciting at the same time. It is a real quick action that does last more than a few seconds. As a tree falls you can here a rapid succession of the branches snapping before it is the ground with a loud crash. And in this instance you have the loud splash of the water. The night was not windy at all, so not sure exactly why it fell, but the next day it was a pretty big, wide, and from the outside a perfectly healthy tree. I am no expert.
There is quite a few boardwalks on this Passage which is new to me. But I am not complaining. If I had to travel through the swampy sections it would take forever. I keep thinking about all the time and money that trail maintainers have to go through in order to keep the trail open. A heart felt Thank You to everyone involved with maintaining trails. Thru hikes would be much different without these volunteers.
First thing in the morning I cross the Enoree River, which is huge. And the bridge that goes up and over it is just as large. This river is listed on my GPS app as a Canoe Trail. I do not know anything about canoeing but would imagine it is a fun sport.
I cross a couple hyways today and do follow a little road for awhile. A vehicle was coming out thier driveway and we started chatting about the trail and the local area. Once I am back in the woods it’s more winding paths up and over small hills to another campground called the Brickhouse Crossroad. There is a large parking lot here as well as a kiosk and National Forest campground. I am out of water at this point but decide to stop and take a break.
A truck comes by and parks and it turns out to be the same guy I talked to earlier. He is meeting people at this trailhead for a survival retreat that he is running for the weekend. He ends up giving me two liters of fresh water and I gladly thank him and fill up my bottles. It is getting late in the day but since I can disberse camp, I decide to make my way further down trail as far as I can before sunset.
This portion of the trail South of Brickhouse Crossroad is also shared with the Buncombe Horse Trail. The trail is easy to see and easier yet following a set of horse tracks. The first creek I come to would be the only creek without a bridge, so I will have to ford it which isn’t really a problem.
The weirdest thing happens as I get down the bank of the creek. The sand isn’t to stable and I sink pretty easily. Halfway through the creek the water is only up to my lower shin, when I step and sink. My ankle is now buried under the floor of the creek putting the water at mid-calf. At first I was confused and wondered if this was quicksand, I was able to pull out my foot but it wasn’t something I expected. It was just a weird feeling.
I’m pretty tired by this point and decide to start looking for a place to camp. It has been a long day and turns out that I am not to far from hitting the next Passage. I ensure both bottles are filled up before leaving the creek which gives me the freedom to stop anywhere regardless if there is water nearby. Turns out this is my longest day yet on this trip close to 23 miles. I can definitely feel it, this would be the first time I fell right to sleep after dinner. I was beat today and at the same time felt good about it.
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