Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fall Into the Gap

If you ever find yourself in the upstate of South Carolina and are in the mood for an easy and beautiful walk off the beaten path, but not too beaten, make your way to Jones Gap State Park.
 
 
According to the state parks website (www.southcarolinaparks.com) this park is part of the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area (which probably means nothing to you, since it means nothing to me... and I've been there 3 times) and it's a mere $2 to get in (on the honor system). With an easy roughly-an-hour drive from downtown Greenville, it is the perfect place to go spend a bit of a day to cool off in the shade, take some pictures, and get your hike on. And the best part? They have a bathroom. That earns a gold star from me!
 
One recent Sunday morning, Puff and I decided it had been way too long since we'd been to the mountains. We like to hike to waterfalls, although the term "hike" is all relative to the person using it. We had both had long weeks at work and our bodies weren't into something requiring too much strain and effort, but we wanted someplace pretty and calm and relaxing. Jones Gap won the coin toss and we set out, picking up highway 276 through Travelers Rest and the other small towns along the way. (Note to self... don't stop at the XXXX brand gas station en route - on the left of the highway - because the cashier will blow cigarette smoke in your face and there will be a creepy old dude hanging out in the parking lot who will stare, unashamedly, at your breasts. Wait until you get further up the road in Cleveland and stop at the gas station - also on the left - and check out their pet emu in the back!)
 
The rhododendrons were just starting to bloom (we've never made it in season, but I hear it's gorgeous) and there weren't many people out and about that morning. We stopped and talked to a ranger who was just hanging out on the bridge and stopped to snap way too many photos of the gorgeous river with its rocks.
 
 
They all started looking the same after awhile, so we set out on the blue marked path that runs along the banks of the river. There are campsites there and pets are allowed too. I kept telling Puff that it will be a great place to come with our kids someday since the path is relatively flat and there are great picnic spots near the entrance. After about an hour, plus a quick detour off on the red path, we called it a day. The day was warm, but the trees provided a wonderful respite from the growing heat. Had it been even warmer, a quick dip of a foot in the river would have been the perfect way to cool off.
 
And even as we were leaving the park, we got one last surprise from Mother Nature... our car was covered in caterpillars. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be any type of sign of good luck or forture, but I'm going to take it that way. Happy travels!

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