Starting at Bad Creek Access

On May 20, 2024, John and I entered Bad Creek Access on the Foothills trail to start our 30-mile journey to Laurel Valley Access.  I had never backpacked before and decided it was a good way to spend my birthday.  John had backpacked many times and was a great guide.  What an amazing husband I have.

We had the good fortune to be shuttled by our dear friend Diane in her vehicle known as Merlot.  It was such a wonderful way to start the journey and we are grateful for her support

We had intended on leaving on Sunday the 19th but a hazardous weather advisory had been issued so we postponed the trip a day.  Good thing we did.  The area had obviously received a lot of rain and was still very wet.

The Hike Was Hard

The 30 + miles of trail we hiked was strenuous and it was extremely hot and humid.  We were pretty much soaked with sweat the entire hike.  Thank goodness there were no lack of cold mountain streams to cool down in.  There were lots and lots of stairs and most were blocks of wood secured to the hillside with rebar.  They were everywhere.  Some were sketchy and some were almost straight up and down.  Heartbreak ridge stands out as one of the places I was having a hard time climbing.  It would have been a lot easier without a pack and sticks.  Ha ha.  The SC Parks website lists portions of the hike as strenuous and that would be accurate from my perspective.  There were definitely easier sections and lots of dirt roads.  I remember thinking how disappointed I was there was so much dirt road and then looking forward to finding more of them as they became less frequent.

Snakes, Snakes, Snakes

Did I mention it was hot.  Really hot.  There were lots of snakes out and they were stunning, beautiful and quite large.  We saw snakes every day.  Our second day we disturbed a timber rattler and he/she let us know it.  That was exciting and had us looking more closely as we walked.  We saw a beautiful king snake too and a very long black snake.

Watching Rivers Become a Lake

Hiking around the end of Jocassee Lake where whitewater rivers become a lake was stunning.  The bridges on this trail are beyond belief.  You cross the rivers with ease.  It was sad for me to see a “free” whitewater river become a still lake.  We camped one night at Jocassee boat-in camp ground and there, the Toxoway River and Toxoway Creek entered the lake.  The campground was lush for a backpacking trip and we enjoyed every bit of it, to include the picnic table.

Waterfalls!  Waterfalls!  Waterfalls!

In addition to enjoying all the rivers and streams we were treated to several stunning waterfalls.  Hillard Falls was close to the beginning of our hike and we enjoyed cooling off in the very cold waters before hiking to our campsite about a mile away.

On the night of my birthday we camped on top of Laura Valley Falls in the campground above the falls.  Laura Valley Falls is 80 foot tall and we enjoyed a breeze from the falls the entire stay.

Trip of a lifetime

I had never backpacked as I mentioned.  It was a great first trip and a very challenging one.  I am still processing all we experienced.  The sheer beauty of the wilderness, watching free flowing rivers become lakes, watching the beauty of the wildlife and flowers and plants while walking from gorge to gorge changed me.  It seemed so easy in so many ways and so natural.  so natural.