A recent camping trip took me just off the I-26 diagonal in the Upstate. The intention was to see hawks migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, but the hawks had their own intentions: in two hours of observations, we saw only a handful of the birds.
Such is nature. Migrations and spawns and temperature changes don’t follow convenient weekends or timed schedules; the uncertainty can make for experiential disappointment but it also allows for a deeper appreciation of the wilderness. We saw only a few hawks, but there was plenty of sunlight left for a hike — and the weather was in full cooperation. It was raining in Charleston but sunny in the mountains.
I don’t have a single photo of the hike from Caesar’s Head State Park, where we were watching for hawks, to Jones Gap State Park, where we were camped. Hiking the Rim of the Gap Trail was nearly all downhill in this direction, but footing was tenuous at best most of the way, and frankly the trail had no wide-open vistas. I decided to avoid trying to capture depth (always a challenge, going from 3-D to 2-D) to illustrate the nature of the trail but somehow managed to lose a lens cap anyhow.
The next day, we did a hike to Rainbow Falls. I couldn’t get an exact mileage, but I was up and down in a little under two hours (with a half hour at the falls). Even late in the summer, they seemed to have good volume, enough so to generate a faint reminder of their namesake.
The hike was all uphill from the trailhead. It started with a gradual climb but became progressively steeper; the gradient seemed comparable to Sauk Mountain or Mt. Pilchuck in the Cascades but across a shorter distance. Once at the top, the temperature was cool and the mist from the falls a welcome reprieve from the sun.
The rocks also had some copper color in them, giving them a reddish hue. As with most waterfalls, they were deceptively slippery; the last time I got this close I slipped into the stream. This time I was more careful.
I’m not sure I composed these pictures as best as I could have to show off the height of the falls (around 100 feet), but they are still a contrast to the flat that is the entire Lowcountry. Nevertheless, given the lack of aerial perspective around me this weekend, what interested me most was perhaps that tree to the left of the waterfall, suggesting that maybe in a few weeks the leaves would turn and some color could start to creep into the Blue Ridge mountains…