Monday, May 18, 2009

Backpacking Fork Mountain to Oconee State Park

Dad & I took a group hike in the Upstate this weekend with the group from the South Carolina State Parks program. First things first: Thanks to Scott Stegenga for leading the trip. As always, he did a nice job of balancing the trip for the fast & light crowd and the bring the kitchen sink hikers.

The original plan was to start on the Fork Mountain spur of the FHT and hike to Oconee State Park over three days and two nights. This is a 30 mile hike that was planned to split evenly over the three days. The trail is well marked on these sections and the elevation changes aren't severe.

Here's dad near the trail head early on day one.

The mountain laurels were in full bloom this weekend. The white and pink laurel were both in full bloom.

A view down the Fork Mountain spur of the FHT.

A large portion of this hike follows the Chatooga River. The past few years the river levels have really been down as a result of the drought in the area. It was refreshing to see the river up significantly compared to recent years. We had a difficult time getting through the low water portion of the trail this time.

This poor guy was carrying 50 or 60 pounds of gear down the trail. I didn't think he'd make it past the first day but he did manage to (slowly) cover the entire hike. To make matters worse, his tent leaked badly the first night leaving all of his heavy gear soaked and even more of a burden to carry the next day.

The pines in our first camp were tremendous. I don't think this one ends...

Some flowers from the edge of camp.

My self portrait on a 60ft log bridge.

My Gossamer Gear The One tent. A 1lb single wall shelter.

Beautiful canopy along the way. I wasn't able to take many photos the next day due to rain (doesn't mix well with digital cameras). We ended up hiking 20 miles out to end the trip in 2 days instead of the planned 3. We were both tired and had sore feet but we were able to avoid the storms (see the radar below). That radar image was taken while we were driving home. Camp was approximately where the 'X' is... lots of storms were on the way. We definitely made the right call.