Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cottonwood Trail Revisited

Jenna and I hit the trail looking to pound some dirt under our feet as we enjoyed the beautiful weather, greenery, and the sites and sounds of nature.  We had visited the Cottonwood Trail this past winter and agreed to return during the summer, and I am glad we did!

The trail is flat, and not strenuous at all.  There were a few others enjoying the outdoors with us including a fellow trail trekker, a trail runner and a large group of cross country high school runners.  The trail was pretty dry with just a few patches of mud from our recent rainfall. 

During the walk we saw a frog, a variety of birds, minnows in the stream, and Jenna got close and personal with few mosquitoes.  We walked nearly 3 miles in total, and with the temperature in the mid 80s, we had a good sweat going on by the time we finished. 

It was nice to have a little time to spend with Jenna talking about nature, and our future hiking adventures.  There is nothing like spending one-on-one time with your children...especially when they are as special as Jenna is!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Glendale Shoal Mill - Father's Day Adventure

This Father's Day was made very special by spending some time with my daughter Jenna.  Last summer she had gone to Glendale Shoal Mill with friends of ours and went swimming in Lawson's Fork Creek.  So, we packed up a little bit of gear and headed out.  I was honestly surprised at how beautiful it was.  There is a really nice hiking trail in the area, that is not a difficult hike but full of greenery and I am sure if enough time was spent, you could pick out some great wildlife and plant-life that would make it well worth the trip!  I tried to convince Jenna to hike the route with me but she was more interested in swimming than anything else.  We hiked about 1/2 a mile to where she had swung on a rope-swing into the creek, but after inspection of the area she opted out and decided to head back to the dam area to swim. 

The entire area is beautiful, well landscaped in the parking area with great photo opportunities.  The batteries are dead in my good camera so I was forced to snap pictures with my cell phone.  You can just feel the rich history in the area and I look forward to returning with a decent camera and time to shoot areas we didn't get into!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Peter's Creek Preserve - Part Deux

A few days ago, after a long endeavor of studying and preparing to take my nursing boards, I treated myself to a early afternoon hike to Martin Mill's dam.  I hiked Peter's Creek last winter, and enjoyed the encounter with God's creation however the trail I took didn't take me to the dam.  I had seen a few pictures of it online so I thought it would be good to take a trek, and snap a few pictures of this historical area.

The mill was used in the 1880's as a flour and grist mill, saw mill and public cotton gin on Peter's Creek.  In the 1920's the mill was abandoned which,

"coincides with the invasion of the cotton boll weevil which ravaged the South Carolina economy and caused the abandonment of many farms. At the same time, the small mills were being superseded by large commercial mills that used electricity instead of water to power the machinery."
Mills in the Upcountry: a Historic Context, and a Summary of a Mill Site on the Peters Creek Heritage Preserve, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, by Chad O. Braley. 

I didn't know this, so I had to look it up...The boll weevil is a small beetle that feeds on cotton buds.

The hike to the mill is very short, really disappointing since my last hike was over 6.5 hours with two summits!  However, it was a quiet morning and it was a good day to investigate the mill site.  I didn't see any wildlife except for a rabbit that scampered off quickly after I spotted it.  There was an interesting bug I came across but it wouldn't sit still long enough for me and would fly away each time I approached it.  It only took about 50 minutes, to the mill and back, with a stop for pictures and to take in the site a bit.

These mills were often the focus of the community.  This mill had a post office located nearby, and the democratic Club No. 2 meetings were held at Mill Pond.  Walking along this trail, there isn't much sign of any community buildings anymore!  Now, for some more historical context,  First Lady Michelle Obama's great-great-great-grandmother Melvinia lived in this same area as a slave.  You can read more about this ancestry link here: http://bit.ly/jYaGx3

Next I need to figure out a hike that is going to give me a little more physical satisfaction and more sites to see!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Getting Lost

  Kristy Thornbrew, 28, of Florence went missing after she went for a short hike in the mountains to watch the sunrise.  She didn't return and was  reported missing shortly after.

After four days of searching using dogs, helicopters and volunteers, a helicopter spotted her on a ledge of the mountain she had hiked.  She survived off leaves, roots and creek water, and was found to be in good condition.  She was transported to a local hospital.

The weather conditions during the nights had deteriorated to some snow flurries, and low temperatures, yet she endured and survived.  This situation brings up a series of questions regarding the safety of hiking.  
Do you take a map and compass with you anytime you hike in an unfamiliar area?

Do you hike alone, and if so, is it wise?

Do you leave a mapped out route behind so rescuers can find you easier if you are hiking alone?

I have started a new poll for the week, which I will post the responses to it next week.  Thornbrew is supposed to give a statement today and I'll update this post with her comments after she has addressed the media.

You can read the entire news story here: http://www2.wspa.com/news/2011/apr/14/84/search-underway-missing-hiker-ar-1706238/

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hiking Safety Poll Results: Hiking With A Firearm

According to my very non-scientific poll, those who answered the poll questions overwhelmingly favored carrying a firearm while hiking.

The poll question was as follows:
Would you ever legally carry a firearm with you when hiking?
Depends on weather conditions or length of hike

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Equipment Review: CamelBak Octane 18X Hydration Pack

I needed a new hiking pack, especially for my day hikes I would be venturing on this spring and summer.  My old pack, a Trager, was old, falling apart, and it just wasn't meeting my needs any more. 

So I started looking online for a pack that would meet some specific guidelines.  I wanted a pack with a water bladder, needed to be expandable, lightweight, sturdy, with hip and chest straps, just large enough for day hikes and affordable.  I found a few online that caught my interest but I wanted to try them on before purchasing.  So I spent some time in the local stores searching, but I didn't find anything that met my requirements.

My family went to Charlotte, NC for a getaway and while visiting we visited the REI store.  Walking into REI is like being a kid in a candy shop.  I can't wait to be done with school, and to be working as a nurse...so I can go back to REI and invest in some more gear!  REI has a mean selection of packs, and I was eager to start looking them over and try some on.  I came across a pack that I had seen on REI's website.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

10 Must Have Items for your Day Hike

When going for a hike, there are some essentials that you must have.  You can scale back, or add more of any one item depending on the length of your hike.  So here is my top 10 items to take on a day hike:

1.) Water - Bring at least 2 quarts, but for a warm weather hike, 3 quarts or more would be better!  I suggest getting a pack that has a hydration pack.  It makes it easier to pack, you won't have the weight of the plastic bottles, and access to the water is near immediate through the attached tube/bite valve.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Feet on the Table

Table Rock
Yesterday I headed out for a day hike with Juneau, my awesome dog.  Our destination was Table Rock State Park where our entire family had been to earlier this year.  During that outing we hiked the Carrick Creek Trail and after looking into to the other trails offered in the area, I was determined to hike Table Rock Trail up to the Table Rock summit.  While researching the trail, I decided to make this trip an all or nothing trip, and hit two summits on the same day.  First, we would summit Pinnacle Mountain and then we would cross Ridge Trail to Table Rock and summit there as well.  I knew it would be a hard hike, yet it would be a great adventure with Juneau, get me into the woods, and provided an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery of God's handiwork!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My 5K all the way!

A couple of runners I trailed for the
first mile and passed during the second!
This weekend I embarked on a new personal quest.  Now, I've always been envious of runners.  Their endurance has always baffled me, how they kept on going when I was sure to throw up within the first 100 feet.  Well, since October of this past year our family has taken on the challenge of becoming healthier.  I have lost 42 lbs and Robin has lost 15, and Jenna has fallen in love with soccer and hiking!  As I have been doing cardio exercise, weight training and have adopted a healthier diet I have been looking for new outdoor adventures to pursue.  One of my Facebook friends had posted a picture of her having finished a 5K race.  I had been thinking of jogging for exercise, since the elliptical can get old at times.  Then I began to question if I too could actually finish a 5K race.  I haven't run a single mile since I was a freshman in high school.  Even then I threw up.  I am in good shape, but would I have the endurance to run the race without stopping out of exhaustion?  I became determined to find out...and to find out how many miles were in 5K!  Ha! (3.1 miles incidentally)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sling'n Lead

Not really fitness related, however I do relate this activity to stress relief and it still works towards the goal of getting out of the house and enjoying the outdoors.  So, today I headed out for a range trip to get some time under my belt with my guns.  No point in owning firearms if you aren't comfortable using them!

So, I called Lance to see if he wanted to head out with me, and he agreed so we headed towards the Chesnee American Legion firing range.  To our disappointment they were working on the legion and the firing range so we had to go towards plan B. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Upper Chinquapin Greenway

Today Jenna and I finally got out of the house to do some trail blazing.  We hit the Upper Chinquapin Greenway, which is part of the Spartanburg Area Conservancy. The Conservancy consists of 36 acres located on the headwaters of the Chinquapin Creek. The Chinquapin Creek is a tributary stream and was the source of the city of Spartanburg’s first municipal water system in the late 1890’s.  This trail is home of the dwarf heartleaf and a number of other plant species to appreciate during the walk.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Swimming 101

Well, Jenna seems to be the most active lately out of our family!  I have been so busy with school, and Robin with work that we haven't be able to hit any trails lately.  We have made a good effort to keep Jenna busy and learning new things and engaging her interest in various activities.  We have hopes to someday this summer to give our hand at kayaking, and before we head down that path to adventure, we need to get Jenna swimming!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kick'n it

Since this adventure to a healthier and more enjoyable life includes our entire family, we have enrolled Jenna in some extra curricular activities to get her more active.  If we can get her into a mindset of being active, then hopefully she will be an active adolescent and then an active adult.  So, the first of her many upcoming activities was soccer!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve - Frozen Edition

Today Jenna and I ventured out in the still iced-over Spartanburg area to stretch our legs and get out of the house. She has been off school all week long due to the snow and ice and we were both antsy to get out! The fresh air was sure to do us some good! Our first destination was in bad shape. The parking area was a complete sheet of ice, and since I am sans 4x4 I didn't feel like getting stuck in a parking lot! So, I quickly put together plan B, and so we headed to Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve.
We have been to Hatcher a number of times over the years, and it is beautiful in the summer and spring. Today was fun as the place really looks different without the greenery, is still beautiful, but also extremely quiet. Hatcher is found

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Blazing of the Cottonwood Trail

Today Jenna and I braved the colder temps here in Spartanburg (30, feels like 25 with N 5mpg wind) and went to the Cottonwood Trail Preserve, which is part of the Spartanburg Area Conservancy.  The Cottonwood trail encompasses a 115 acre urban preserve and trail system.  The trail is just minutes from downtown Spartanburg.  The trail features wetlands, open pasture, animal habitats and many species of trees labeled for the naturist.  The trails are wide which accommodates the other trail blazers and runners you will encounter during this trek.  The trail includes an observation deck and 550 ft. boardwalk.  This trail has been maintained and improved upon by efforts from groups such as the local Boy Scouts who work on projects such as footbridges, bird and bat houses, and benches, allowing 16 boys to achieve their Eagle rank. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Adrenaline Dump

Today was a big day.  I had worked myself into a great amount of stress.  My heart was racing, my breathing was fast and I quickly scribbled drug calculations as fast as I could.  I was having a hard time slowing down and concentrating.  Why all the hub-bub?  Well, today was my drug calculations test for the 4th semester of my nursing program.  We are required to achieve 100% each semester in order to matriculate to the next semester, and we are given two opportunities.  If we don't pass, we sit out an entire semester!

While getting ready to head to the college to take my test, I thought that I might enjoy a few minutes of trail-blazing after my test to burn off the adrenaline I was sure to build up during the test, whether I passed or not!  I am happy to report that I did pass, and so the walk was sure to be much more enjoyable!  So....

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Companion Walk - Peters Creek Preserve

Today, I commemorated the new year by taking my Redbone Coonhound named Juneau for a hike.  We live close to a nature preserve called Peters Creek Preserve.  Apparently Peters Creek Preserve is the home of one of the largest communities of the federally endangered dwarf-flowered heartleaf on the planet...so I guess I had best avoid stepping on any of those!  In honesty I had been around the trail a few years ago, but I had never really taken the time to hike it.  So, I put on my gear (raining today), and gathered Juneau and headed out.