We had saved our hike in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains for today, our last day in Greenville before leaving the Carolinas. Unfortunately, the weather made other plans for us. We could see the rain in the forecast this morning when we left Greenville for the drive to the Blue Ridge. But we had hoped that it would be like yesterday’s rain that cleared out before lunchtime. Brevard, North Carolina, was the first stop and we dashed out in the soaking rain to go into the Visitor’s Center for a map. The Visitor’s Center had an overhead TV displaying Doppler radar and it was evident that the rain was not going to let up anytime soon. The comment that the lady at the desk made in the discussion of our failed hopes for hiking today summarized this visit to North Carolina: “With all of this rain, the waterfalls will be beautiful tomorrow!”
For us, the beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina are going to have to wait for another time. There didn’t seem to be any point in sticking around so we drove back to Greenville. At times, the rain was so heavy that we could barely see the road. Although it stopped raining once we got down from the mountains, I think it’s probably still raining up there.
We missed our day of hiking today but we enjoyed other activities this week in the Greenville area. This part of South Carolina is known as the “Upcountry”, a land of forested mountains, scenic lakes, rocky outcroppings and rushing whitewater rapids. A hike we took one day climbed steeply for 3.5 miles to the top of the rock formation at Table Rock State Park. 3.5 miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but with 2000-foot elevation gain and a very rocky trail, we got a good workout. The views were well worth it.
The one day of bike riding that we did during our time in Greenville was on the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 17-mile rail-to-trail path that runs along the Reedy River and connects Greenville with the town of Travelers Rest. About 7 miles north of Greenville the trail passes next to Furman University and we took some time to ride around the Furman campus.
A day’s excursion that took us further afield from Greenville was a visit to Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. After some time spent walking in the downtown area, we took a 15-mile drive southeast of the city to see Congaree National Park. Here we battled the humidity and mosquito swarms to gape at the towering trees surrounding us in the forest as we strolled along a 2.5-mile boardwalk trail. The Congaree National Park is a 22,000 acre tract of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest, the largest of its kind in the US. One of the park signs states: “No place in North America has a larger contiguous area of 130-foot to over 160-foot tall trees”. Despite the mosquitos, we absorbed the awe-inspiring beauty and peacefulness of these giant trees.
Tomorrow we bid farewell to the southern states and turn northward, our goal being northern Virginia on Friday to take care of some personal business. It doesn’t seem the right time of year to be heading north. But all good things must come to an end and we have many wonderful memories to take with us into whatever next state we find ourselves.