Someplace South of Greer: Day 2: Trip Report

Day two: 2015-08-19

We awoke to the sound of birds and above us blue skies with fluffy cumulus clouds through the shady trees. The squirrels continued their antics. DF was feeling better with the help of a special tea that I gave her. She probably suffered from altitude sickness. The improvement was encouraging. We had a cool cinnamon/almond/apple porridge with cantaloupe. The sun was high enough to gift us comfort in our skin in seamless perfection. We sat enjoying ourselves in the ring of the quiet glade. Then, as DF brought life force through herself with Chi Gung, I walked bare into the woods to see what was there and just to be.

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All through the last several miles there was evidence of forest fire. It appeared to be damage, where sadly, black sticks stood instead of once beautiful tall blue spruce Christmas trees.

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Mountain forest fires leave peculiar seemingly haphazard patterns. They create their own weather and wind patterns, locally huge vortices and plumbs will flash on a tree and leave the one next to it untouched. The fire will jump, and streak through a stand of trees carving out only pieces of a hillside. I found my way into one of these acres of black sticks. I discovered however, that there is new life, abundant after four years and the seasonal summer rains that I remembered often accumulate each afternoon in these mountains. In time, the devastation is ignored for the new growth, the meadow grass, the berry patches, the newly started trees, the mullen, fern and a multitude of various dainty flowers. Wildlife finds abundance when less ground cover is choked off by lack of light on the forest’s floor.

Time was passing and we had planned taking the recommended hike. We decided to break camp. We might again change plans and move closer to Friday’s destination over a long dirt road to the east. From there the highway drops 60 miles through a tiringly slow snake band of pavement, then into the unknown 4×4.

A relative short distance down the road, we passed an inviting valley and trailhead, again. There was a Honda Fit sitting next to the kiosk. As we continued, toward the recommended destination, it occurred to me that that trail was described and listed in the trail book that we had been given by the Forest Service. There was only one car there. We looked through the book and it sounded good. We had no idea just how crowed the destination trail was. This was a bird in the hand. We turned around and back tracked a mile and a half, parking at the kiosk and gathering ourselves for an afternoon’s naturist exploration. The trailhead was down the road a few hundred feet.

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We were surrounded to the northwest by a large meadow with a meandering creek running through it. In the distance this ran up hillsides spruce, pine and aspen groves atop the hills.

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To our east and south there was a valley with tall slopes and cliffs of gray rock capping them.

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The trail and creek disappeared around the bend.

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I took my day pack satchel with water, food and needs, draping my sarong under shoulder the strap for comfort. I wore my Vibram fivetoes and hat for the sun. DF carried some water and a sundress. We made our way down the road and stepped onto the trail itself. We had gotten maybe fifty yards when we saw a lone man with walking sticks coming our way from around the bend. I quickly draped my sarong around my waist and DF slipped on her dress.

As he passed, I asked, “Are you with the Honda?” That got his attention. He was just planning to pass us with a nod.
“Yes,” he replied a bit out of breath.
“Then there is no one else down there?”
“Nope.”

We had it to ourselves.

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The trail looked to be on the remains of an old road. We later determined that it was actually an old railroad track, a thin rail for hauling lumber. The grade was very easy as it eventually hugged the base of the mountain on the east, above the creek below. There was a trail going down to the creek with a gate. A sign was posted about fishing conservation.

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As we continued down the track, we saw a waterfall over a dam. This was to trap the native trout, which are endangered and separate them from the sport species. As we stopped to take photos, we had a thought. We had hurried through our read of this place on the road. I pulled out the book and found that the railroad trail we were on was for mountain bikes and horses. There was a more intimate trail below at creeks edge. We passed down a slope of grass to the dam and found the trail.

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This place was just wonderful.

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As we found our way, a large egret popped out of obscurity right across the stream and out of the tall grass. Its massive wings taking it airborne up the canyon with its catch. I’m sure that they like all of the fishing there and don’t follow the restrictions on the native trout.

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In short time, we realized that we were occasionally in an exposed position, as the other trail looked down on us.

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Sure enough an odd couple, she elderly, in floppy hat and walking sticks very typical of a hiker, and he in full western regalia boots and a large white cowboy hat were above us in the distance. We don’t know if they saw us as we placed our butts to them and continued. They were looking down at the local flora. There was nothing else to do. The elderly tire easily, or maybe we had something to do with it, but we never saw them again.

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The upper road allows for a quicker pace than ours. We could be caught up with from behind. There was also the slight possibility that someone might be coming from downstream where this trail meets with other trails.

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We really weren’t concerned. The odds were in our favor. What reasonable person could complain in such a beautiful remote location about a glance of someone enjoying their own business at a distance? Key word, “reasonable.” This is remote.

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In time, we found a group of spruce along the creek side and a shady spot. It turned out to be a gentle place, of grass with an old fire pit. An idyllic camping spot.

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I stretched out my sarong in the shade.

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We sat eating a snack lunch. Energy blueberry cubes, almonds, cashews, a pomegranate/chia cliff-bar, raw carrots, and dehydrated garlic hummus and black refried beans with dehydrated apple slivers. We also nibbled on seedless red grapes. I elongated the sarong and stretched out wonderfully nude next to DF, my arm around her as we enjoyed the babbling brook, speculated if the dead spruce amongst the others were from beetles, fire or the moss hanging from the branches.

Because of the sound of the stream, we were confused when we heard voices. Where were they, on the upper trail of near us. DF watched the upper trail. I saw, most likely too late, a thirty-something couple each with a large black dog on a leash come out of the bushes on the trail maybe 80 feet from us. We were sitting on my clothing, but I was able to roll on my side and pull the sarong’s corner over my butt as it faced them. They looked very curiously at us.

Where We Lay by the Creek Seen from the Trail

Where We Lay by the Creek Seen from the Trail

We cannot know what they thought that they saw, other than naked people with their back to them minding their own business. After looking back at them, I simply turned my head away from them. I didn’t really want to chat, just be left alone.

This is what we saw as we would look behind us:

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We refilled our water bottles with filtered stream water and continued downstream. We could see far down the valley meadow, but never saw them again.A cloud passes as we leave:

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We continued to follow the meander, the rock formations, the creek, the flora.

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DF jumped and made a strange sound. A snake at her feet had startled her.

She, still recovering, was tired easily. She was ready to turn back.

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On our way back, two more snakes crossed my path in the thick growth, fat mountain garden snakes, harmless, but for a person used to concern of rattlers, not welcome. We were cautious about disturbing flowers. We love flowers, but many had bees on them.

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Still, this mountain environment was very peaceful and non-threatening.

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A trail of many different sensations befell us, as we were caressed by a gauntlet of life.

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On the way, we went through the patch that we had missed at first orientation to the trail. There, we found wild raspberries. We picked a few of the darker ripe ones. They were fantastic!

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There was a locked gate where the creek trail began. It looked kinda silly.

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There were clouds accumulating and bugs were beginning to come out when we arrived back at the SUV.

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The car belonging to the dog lover couple was still there, as it would be at 11:00am the next day, curiously. Perhaps they took a connecting trail to a distant camp. Those dogs were pulling taunt on those leashes, moving them along at a good pace.

We decided to just head the short distance to the wonderful campsite we had been fortunate to find the night before. We again arranged the truck and tent to shield us from passersby.

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We didn’t expect any, in this back area, but it is always good to do, just in case.

 

Back at Camp:

I discovered holes in the cheap dome tent and its canopy. I decided to place the tarp for the net tent over it in case the rain clouds showered us. This worked fine. I hadn’t created the side covers to keep out blowing rain for the net tent. Dinner was in perfect timing. As we finished, a fun rain blew through and then left us in dead silence. This night however, mosquitoes came out in force. We figured that the ruts in the jeep trail accumulate rain water, and give the breading habitat. We had to get dressed to an extent. Eventually, long johns and a sweat shirt sufficed as the air cooled.

We have discovered a natural, non-chemical, but very effective bug spray. It is called “BiteBlocker Xtreme Insect Repellant.” The mosquitoes were very persistent that evening. I was about to put on clothes! We sprayed the stuff on, not even rubbing it in, after I had placed a long sleeve t-shirt on my body leaving waist down vulnerable. They immediately left my legs alone, completely and instead started to buzz my face. I had a hat, but DF got one of those small cherries on her forehead before rubbing some around, ending the persistence. The stuff is soybean, geranium and castor oils, not sticky, particularly filmy, nor did it leave a toxic scent. It works. I bought it locally at Arbico Organics which is an internet distributor. We used the 8 hour stuff.

We were entertaining a fire as twilight darkness began when there was a ruckus on the nearby ridge. A large bird flew from the small cliff into the branches of a pine about 200 feet away and 50 feet up. The branches swayed dramatically as it clumsily landed on it. It called an unusual sound and then another followed it into the branches. “Could that be a turkey?” The long neck and bulk identified it.

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In all of my life, I had never seen a turkey in the wild and now, here were six or eight. I had no idea that the things could fly and here they were 50 or sixty feet in the air. DF grabbed her camera as I stood stunned into silence and disbelief. We could only hope that the poor lighting would capture this treat. One bounded out maybe twenty feet overhead from one tree to another in the light, right above me, like an awkward chicken, as if calling out discovering its poor aeronautical skills, struggling, hoping to arrive at its target. Definitely a wild turkey. If only I had a camera. We milked this experience as once in a lifetime. The birds had taken up residence less than 70 and 200 feet from our tent. We had been accepted as neighbors. They eventually fell silent.

 

We opted massage over campfire. My feet needed conditioning because of this troubling Morten’s Neuroma and we had a long journey tomorrow in a full day that needed to begin early and rested.
What a day, relaxed, nature, naked…idyllic naturism.

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