Picnic at Short Stay (Moncks Corner, SC)

Rolling out of bed on day shift schedule has become difficult. Anything before 9am takes effort. I’ve been spoiled with night shift. Getting up for my work’s picnic yesterday sucked. My body didn’t want to go to sleep early, so I sat on my phone until 2am. When I woke up, my body felt sore and heavy. Showering didn’t help.

After quickly eating, I drove off to Short Stay. The squadron picnic was hosted there last year and around an hour drive. It’s located off Lake Moultrie’s eastern shore. The park is beautiful enough. It’s military only, so the area is well-maintained.

I’ve gotten excited about moving to Hawaii. I leave in a little over a week now. One of the things I’m anticipating is buying a jeep. I’m getting psyched up about it. I swear, everywhere I go, I can sense them around me. Short Stay was covered in jeeps.

The pavilion we rented was nice. There were only a few people when I arrived. A couple of them were hanging out. I didn’t recognize anyone so I stood back. For a while, I awkwardly shuffled around the area and looked out at the lake. There were boats whizzing by and pontoons blaring music. Everyone was having a good time.

When I returned, a few of my friends had arrived. We talked for a little bit and the small talk seemed to turn to static. These were some of my last moments out here. I had to take them all in and appreciate this time I had left.

The moment I looked at the lake I knew I wanted to go kayaking. The last few weeks I’ve been nuts about getting out on the water. I’ve been bugging everyone about going. Today was no exception. It took time but I convinced them to go out with me.

The food at the picnic was alright. Everyone brings sides and desserts – so it’s interesting to try out the concoctions. The cheesecake was good and ‘better-than-sex cake’ was delicious. It had pineapple in it. Which is one of my favorite fruits.

After we ate, we were about to go out on the water when one of my friends said she couldn’t go anymore. Soon enough, everyone else backed out too. It was just my friend Kristen and I left. We spent about an hour paddling around and jumping in the water. It was a great time.

The day drew to a quick end and, looking through these photographs, I’m glad that I got up early to go. I love my friends and cherish these last moments with them. Below I’ve attached a few pictures I took at the event.

 

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Exploring Bald Rock (Cleveland, SC)

Immediately upon arriving at Bald Rock, you’re faced with a bunch of cars pulled over at a random bend in the road. If you don’t have the location programmed into your GPS, you’ll probably miss it. The night Merci, Jasmine, and I visited, there were a few cars parked and a vendor selling boiled peanuts. That’s typical South Carolina.

After hopping out of our vehicles, we were confronted with a spray painted sign telling us the rules of the park. Half way down the list, one rule read “Do not deface the rock”. As you’ll see in the images below, no one reads the rules.

Bald Rock is famous for its innocent graffiti. Although some of the work is profane, most of it feels like its been done by local kids. One of the first writings I saw said “Prom?”. Looking around the massive rock, you can see many similar scribblings.

Bald Rock really is massive. There’s no hiking required for the fantastic views either. As soon as you arrive, you can step out and see for miles. On South Carolina’s DNR page, they boast that the rock is 165 acres. What’s amazing is how much of it is covered in graffiti. When you walk towards the rock’s drop off, you can see how far Bald Rock expands.

Unfortunately, we arrived after hiking Table Rock and didn’t explore the area as much as I would have liked to. There was a small waterfall next to the entrance and if you walked down the rock, there were plenty of dips and bends to run around. Overall, a very picture-esque location that requires little effort to get.

Here are a few pictures from the trip:

 

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I found a clean spot!

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As we arrived back to Merci’s truck, we saw that a huge tree fell across the road. We were lucky that it didn’t fall on her car. Traffic in the area slowed as everyone drove around the tree. It was interesting that it happened during the short 30 minutes we explored the area.

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Exploring Palmetto Islands County Park (Mt Pleasant, SC)

One of the closest parks to where I live is Palmetto Islands. Truth be told, the park is paved and busy but it’s a nice place to get away in the morning. The main path is around two miles long with various unpaved trails to walk on along side the path.

Somewhere hidden in Palmetto Islands is a water park and a small kayak/canoe boat launch. You can rent either of them out and go out on the water. Maybe one morning I’ll go chase alligators and dolphins.

If you’re ever in the area and looking for a quick walk outdoors, Palmetto Islands is worth checking out. The entry fee is 1$/person and they have about an hour’s worth of exploration.

Here are a few pictures I took:

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Observation Tower
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View from Observation Tower

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The boardwalk without the boards

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Crabs scurried everywhere around this boardwalk!

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Exploring Edisto Island State Park (Edisto Island, SC)

Ever since getting the news that I’ll be moving to Hawaii this summer, I’ve been trying to explore South Carolina as much as possible. One of the ways that I’ve done this is by reading Falcon’s hiking guide on South Carolina. The book has 60 trails through the entire state and includes maps and other helpful information.

While trying to find a nearby hiking trail, I ran across Edisto Island. It’s about an hour south from where I live, which is a relatively short distance. There are very few trails in lowcountry South Carolina. If you want to see spectacular sights, you have to drive about 4 hours upstate.

Unfortunately, the route is mostly back roads. You begin on a freeway, then move onto a highway, then onto a tiny one-lane road with 60 mph speed limits. As you near the island, maw and paw restaurants and vegetable markets start popping up. Soon afterwards the one-lane road eventually opens up to a scenic byway.

Once on the island, beach houses litter the main road and a small entrance to the state park can be found. The fee was about $5 for my car and includes parking at the beach and at the campgrounds. I arrived late in the day, so I immediately headed for the trails at the campgrounds.

Overall the park features around 3 miles of trails. Many of which include paths deviating from the main trail and lead off into different sections of the forest. I was drawn to the easternmost trail which had the most boardwalks. Here are some images from the trip:

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The guidebook emphasized that Edisto Island is covered in mosquitoes and ticks. I prepared by soaking myself in deet but I didn’t encounter either of them. Most of the trail borders marshland, which makes the trail more scenic but in the summer months, I could imagine swarms of mosquitoes rising out of the water.

If you go, I would recommend bringing a swimsuit for the beach and tennis shoes for the hike. The trail has relatively low elevation gains and is well made. If you go earlier in the day, there is a nature center that you could visit.

Overall, Edisto Island is worth visiting because the trails are family friendly, the views are nice, and there’s versatility while you’re hiking because you can make your trek longer or shorter by changing routes. Even the beach would make a great stop after a few hours of exploration. If you’re in the area, I would definitely recommend visit the island.

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Hiking Table Rock (Pickens, SC)

Table Rock is the first major trail that I hiked in South Carolina. It’s located in the the north westernmost part of the state and is about a 4 hour drive from where I live. The trail is highly rated in my guidebook (Falcon’s Hiking South Carolina) and on National Geographic’s co-branded website AllTrails.com.

My friends Merci and Jasmine wanted to explore the area, so one weekend we decided to drive up to Greenville. We stayed overnight and arrived at Table Rock’s ranger station around 11 in the morning. Parking was only a few dollars and the ranger area is well-developed.

Before we started our trek upwards, we signed in and had our picture taken:

Immediately after signing in, there were a few small waterfalls to climb around. This area was surrounded by a wooden patio. It was perfect for beginning and ending our hike.

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After the falls, the trail immediately started gaining elevation. My friend’s dog Max was eager to be out and dragged us upward at a rapid pace. He was a very dedicated member of our group. As you see, the boulders were huge:

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Occasionally, there were breaks in the trees and you could see out for miles. The day we hiked was overcast and about 75 degrees. Perfect for hiking and keeping cool.

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Max brought whomever was handling his leash into warpdrive. Upon grabbing him, my pace increased at least 500 mph.

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The trail was well put together and heavily traveled. We passed a couple dozen hikers on our way up. Some of the more difficult terrain involved us climbing on our hands and knees. There were a few places we had to watch our footing to avoid sliding down the rock faces. It was interesting trying to get through these spots with a dog. Sometimes Max would climb half way up a rock and decide that he wanted to go back down. This was interesting for whomever was holding his leash.

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When I look at this picture, I head Max saying “Are you done resting yet humans? Jeez, we’ve still got a long way to go!”.

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Not only was the trail fun to hike, there was always stuff around us to climb and explore.IMG_0888

Max still isn’t tired. But he does look a little content.

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As we got closer to the peak, there were more openings. This part was named “Governor’s Rock”. The grass / brush the grew through the rock was really comfortable. On a hot day, I would have been happy to stop and relax at this spot.

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Alas, the trail called and Max wanted to move on.

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We reached the Table Rock Summit around 1 in the afternoon. Which meant that it took around 3 hours to climb. When we reach the marker, we stopped and asked another hiker to take our picture:

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After the sign, the trees opened up and the expansiveness of where we were became apparent. We could see miles ahead. For someone who grew up on flat land, this was amazing.

IMG_0959IMG_0966We reached the end of the line when we ran into a pile of other hikers. Everyone was laying around enjoying the view. The sun was blocked by the clouds and the air was perfect. Some of the other hikers threw hammocks on the trees and others ate lunch. We arrived and relaxed. Here’s a picture of Merci and Max enjoying the summit:

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We spent some time climbing around the rocks. There wasn’t a lot of room but we explored the area as much as we could. Here’s a few more pictures of the view.

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The hike down was much more rapid. Overall, the trip was around 4 hours and about 7 miles long. When we reached the trailhead, we enjoyed the waterfall again:

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This was my first major hike in South Carolina and I’d repeat it in a heartbeat. The views were amazing, the trail was well-built, and the experience was awesome. Going with a group of friends made the trek more exciting and I enjoyed going back through the pictures. If you liked this trip and you want to see more, there’s links below. I just started a Snapchat, so if you want, add me @idreamtowakeup. I’m new but I’m posting a lot. Send a snap and say hi!

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Exploring Cypress Gardens

firstA few months ago, my car died and I’ve been stranded with a poor public transportation system. The only times I go out are when friends make trips to the store or when others let me use their car. So when I woke up to a text, “let’s explore something today”, I jumped out of bed at the offer.

My friend Cory and I decided to explore Cypress Gardens, a local area that offers 170 acres of gardens and swamp. The park is a series of trails that surround a wooded swamp. When I first arrived in Charleston, my friend Kate recommended I go to the gardens for photography. While nothing was blooming, I had the opportunity to photograph Cory instead.

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This swamp was filled with trees, lily pads, and apparently…

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Cory is from California and I’m from Minnesota. Neither of us have seen an alligator outside of a zoo. Now we’re going to walk trails that could have them laying next to us! Maybe we should have known from Cypress Gardens’ logo, or the map they gave us, or that we live in South Carolina.

Nonetheless, we drove a half an hour to visit the park. We weren’t going to leave just because of alligators or “other animals” (still wondering about that).

IMG_8008This trail was marked with the sign from the earlier photo. As you can see, it’s wide and clearly defined. Having no previous experience with southern wildlife, we both cautiously started on the trail. On the left the swamp is about 3-4 feet from the path. This means easy access for an alligator to grab us and drag us to our premature deaths.

Around 200 feet down, the trail narrows and becomes less defined. This is where people reevaluated their decision to walk down the trail. I don’t blame them because there was another two less official signs, one read “CAUTION Alligators and snakes may rest upon trails. Never approach an alligator.” The other probably said, “Walk this trail and you’ll surely meet your end!”. It may as well have.

But, we weren’t going to be deterred from a great experience!

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If you didn’t know, alligators sound like bullfrogs, or at least that’s what I’ve been told.

As we walked down the ever-narrowing trail, the sound of bullfrogs became clear. It was like everything was quiet so we could focus all of our attention on our inevitable doom. I don’t understand why the trail was so close to the swamp, it’s like they were trying to feed us to the alligators.

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This of course didn’t stop us from occasionally pausing for photographs.

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The trail felt like it lasted forever and it didn’t stop narrowing until we got much further ahead. Bushes and fallen trees obscured the path so we didn’t always know where to step. It was evident that this trail wasn’t frequently used because there were spider webs all over the place.

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It looks innocent enough… but how about closer to its actual size…

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After seeing one, we realized that there were spiders covering bushes along the entire trail. Then we stepped into a web that stretched 4 feet wide, as if the spider had hopes of catching a bear. There weren’t any bear encounters on this trail thankfully.

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Occasionally the trail would dart right and it would look like it was coming to an end… but it wasn’t. It only brought us closer to the sound of bullfrogs and other potential predators.

The end of the trail was completely covered in bushes, half-downed trees, and broken bridges/walkways over the swamp. It brought us to large mounds of dirt that we’d have to climb around. Oh, I forgot to mention the caution tape.

Along the way, in the middle of the woods, there was caution tape between trees or shrubs. Parts of the trail walked directly next to this stuff, which reminded me of police investigation tape. So while we were hearing bullfrogs, dodging giant spiders, and trying to stay on trail, we had to observe caution tape… on a hiking trail with alligators…

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Eventually our adventure came to an end. We found an opening back to pavement, as if a blessing from the gods. It was abrupt and opened into a wide, and heavily traveled, path. Our trail almost vanished behind us with how obscure the way was.

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From then on we sailed smoothly through the rest of the park. Joyous that mosquitoes weren’t gnawing at our legs and that the spiders were gone. Here’s a few more images from rest of adventure…

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This was a burial site right after we exited the woods. The cross stood 15 feet high with three gravestones at its base.IMG_8153

Look at how happy we are to be out of the woods!

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If life gives you a trail of alligators and spider webs, I would suggest finding bug spray and wearing pants before going on it. No matter what happens in life, you’ll always have an adventure. Bug spray or not.

This morning I woke up to an invitation to explore something new. I darted out of bed in anticipation of finding that new experience. This is how life should be; waking up with the excitement to explore the world and going out to do it. Days like today remind me that I’m alive and that there’s plenty of the world left to explore.

I hope all of you find that in yourself each day and go out into the world to fulfill it. Right now my legs itch (hopefully not from poison ivy) and I’m exhausted, so I’ll cut this off here. Have a wonderful night everybody and don’t let the sound of bullfrogs scare you away! Life is too short to skip adventures like this!

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