Just Jeff's Hiking Page

"Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose
we came from the woods originally."

- John Muir

Foothills Trail
Day 3 - Monday, 2 May 2005

Todayís miles: 17.5
Trip miles: 38.0

The only people Iíve seen since Chimneytop yesterday were in a trail crew. It was a good day.

Todayís sections of trail were very well maintained and I saw a lot of freshly completed improvements. The Southeastern Foot Trails Conference hosted a volunteer vacation this week to work on the areaís trails; this must be one of the places they worked on.

Regarding my Hammock Sock experiment, I got 12 degrees of warmth from it last night. It was 55F inside and 43F outside, but I woke up pretty sweaty and dehydrated. It was a lot more humid inside than outside, but I still had no visible condensation on the Sock, even with the 12F temp difference. I think facemask might help with the humidity.

Iíve also had some problems staying warmÖIíve been chilled for the past two nights. I increased the sag in my hammock by tightening the ridgeline, which makes the hammock more comfortable but the quilt is either compressing because itís too tight, or it has a gap between the hammock and quilt because itís not tight enough. Usually itís both at the same time at different places. This is pretty frustrating since I was fine waking up in the snow at Hot Springs last weekend! Iím sure the humidity inside the Sock last night didnít help, either.

So last night I put some boiling water in a water bottle and stuck it in my armpits and between my legs and I got warm pretty quickly. Then when I woke up, it was still hot so I added some Jell-O powder to itÖYUM. Talk about a good morning pick-me-up! Iím gonna bring Jell-O on any trip thatíll get to about 40F! Pop Tarts and an Oatmeal CrŤme Pie rounded out breakfast.

And speaking of experiments, Iím still not treating my water unless it comes from a big creek or river like Toxaway, where Iím unsure of what all is draining into it. And I just didnít get any from Horsepasture Creek. I figure with a name like that it deserves an extra margin of safety.

I saw the perfect campsite today right at the top of Laurel Fork Falls Ė good-sized sandy beach with thigh-deep water, about a minuteís walk to the falls, nice trail leading up to it from both directions, and you can only get there by hiking in or by boat access from below falls. I definitely want to come back here with the kids.

Laurel Fork Falls from the campsite I found
Standing at the top of Laurel Fork Falls
Looking back at Laurel Fork Falls

I also found the perfect lunch spot at an unnamed stream emptying into Lake Jocassee. Lunch was a pretty simple affair with sausage and cheese rolled into tortillas, but itís easy to make and fills me up pretty well.

Lunch at Lake Jocassee

When I finally got moving after lunch, I saw a family of geese just past the Canebrake Access on Lake Jocassee. As I approached them on the section thatís right down by the water, I saw two geese swim out from behind a fallen treeÖthen I saw the four goslings struggling out between them! They swam about 25í offshore, waited for me to pass, then swam right back in to the same spot.

Shortly after seeing the geese, I was on a gentle ascent when I came upon some interesting tracks. At first I thought it was just a dog or something, but none of the tracks were very clear; they were all smudged I some way. Then I saw one very clear deer print in the middle, which made me stop and look closer. It looked like something was attacking the deer right there on the trail! I saw a few deer tracks, and most of them had soil pushed up on one side where the deer was trying to change directions quickly. The deer print looked a bigger than a fawn but still not full grown. The other prints were about three inches across, but there wasnít a single clear print I could see. It definitely had claws, though, so I assume it was a bobcat. The prints started together on the trail, moved uphill about thirty feet, then left the trail and ascended the ridge. I couldnít find any more prints without leaving the trail, but I scanned the ridge and didnít see any more evidence of a struggle. I never say any blood or anything there on the trail, eitherÖsure made for an interesting find, though.

Those tracks reminded me of yesterday. I saw lots of slugs in the trail being eaten by ants, like there was some sort of bug revolution overnight and I was walking through the aftermath. The big snails seemed to have been traitors, or at least complicit bystanders, as they stood by in safety watching their brethren fall.

Hehe...I scared myself today. After lunch, I decided to make Bearcamp Creek for the night and I needed to put away some miles, so I was really focused on the trail and didnít notice that I had rounded the end of a ridge and hiked into a pretty wide and steep drainage. With the modesty youíd expect of someone on the trail, I let loose a powerful burp and kinda startled myself when it echoed right back at me: LOUD! I didnít hear any animals scrambling away, but it did give me a chuckle.

Trillium

I hiked until just after sunset and picked my campsite right before I needed a headlamp. I pushed on to the designated site at Bearcamp Creek. I had already decided on a no-cook dinner since I was hiking into the night, so I laid in the hammock and scarfed down three Balance bars and a granola bar. As I lay there looking around in that delirium right before you fall asleep, I saw something Iíve never seen before. Lightning bugs that donít blinkÖthey just stay on for 5-8 seconds and fly around! I think I saw one or two on my Mountain Bridge trip last year, but it wasnít like tonight. There were 10-15 little buggers and they flittered around like they were dancing with each other...chasing, running away, flitting here and there. Growing up in Georgia, the ones I always caught and put in a jar would blink on for 1 second and go back off again, so this was something new to me. Cool!

I havenít pooped since Friday. Think of all that extra weight Iím carrying around! This is gonna hurt.

Todayís animal count:
- 1 big frog
- 2 geese and 4 goslings
- Lots of squirrels

For the Trail Crew:
- Tree across the trail; diversion is already creating erosion, about .5mi past boat spur at Laurel Fork Falls Access
- Sinkhole in access road, 4íl x5íw x 6íd, just past LFF at the bottom of the hill before the trail forms a T with the logging road. I told the trial crew. The road is still barely passable, but probably not by big service trucks. Thereís a stream running under the road and you can see it from the hole.


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