Table Rock State Park – Part 1

Sherri, Lisa and I

4/27/18- 4/28/18

Sherri and I have been talking about backpacking.  The big trip being all 79 miles of the Foothills Trail.  It goes from Table Rock State Park to Oconee State Park.  It could take 5 – 7 days depending on how many miles you can hike in one day.  We have started collecting our gear.  We each have a tent, sleeping bag and a backpack.  Sherri has more stuff like a Jet boil, cup, bowl, spork ect…

We found this hike on Facebook.  It is a sunrise hike to the top of Table Rock.  It would begin at 2:30 am and the sun rises at 6:45 am.  We decided to camp for two days at the park, test out our stuff, and do this hike.

She has hiked Table Rock once and I have done it twice.  I have always said it was the hardest hike I’ve ever done and my hike scale is “from 1 to Table Rock”.  We were going to do this anyway.

We both took Thursday off of work and packed up and went to the campsite.  We got there about 2, checked in and set up our site.  I have a new tent that is called a bivy tent.  its like a long coffin.  It’s only 2.5 lbs has 2 poles but is a little hard to turn around or store stuff in.  Sherri has a 2 man tent that is more a traditional one only lightweight.  I do like hers better so if we do ever backpack I will get one like that.  I brought a party tent because its supposed to rain. We set up then the rain came.  It was nice anyway sitting under that tent listening to the rain in a partially empty campground.  Good thing we had that tent or we would have been sitting in the car or alone in our tents!

We had a 2 hour break in the rain so we started a fire and cooked dinner.  I made shrimp boil foil backs.  They didn’t take long to cook and they were awesome if i do say so myself.

We hung out under the tarp a little while, I brought a bottle of Windy Hill Blue berry Cider that we opened and drank.  I thought this would help me sleep but it only made me have to pee a hundred times!  We went to bed early.  It was sooooo uncomfortable.  We each tossed and turned.  We are definitely not in our 20’s anymore. Years of good mattresses and campers have really made me soft!  Sherri had a real air camping pad that should of been great but she said was not.  I only had a comforter we purchased at goodwill for camping and I tell you was not comfortable!  We went to bed about 9 and the rain came around 10.  It rained pretty good.  We put the tarp over the tents even though they are supposed to be waterproof.  Neither one of us got a good night sleep but we were up early.

Sherri got her jet boil out which boiled water in under a minute and we had oatmeal with walnuts and bananas.  It was yum and coffee!  It was instant from Starbucks but was good.

Lisa called said she was in Spartanburg heading to Panthertown but was going to come meet us.  She was there by 8:30 with her dog CoCo and we set out to hike Pinnacle trail and the Ridge Trail loop and down Table Rock Trail.  About 12 miles.  Finally my two hiking buddies hiking at the same time. 👍

The Pinnacle Trail was a nice 4 mile trail that followed a creek. It was steep and less rocky than the other trails.  This trail has changed alot since we did it on the Make a Wish Training hike.  It has been re-routed some because of fire and blowdowns.  I do not recall this waterfall on the trail before.  i think its a waterfall right now due to the amount of rain we just had.

Things are starting to bloom now.  It was a beautiful warm day.  When we got to the Mill Creek Falls trail it was closed due to blowdowns so we were not able to get to this falls.

The only real view on this trail is Bald Knob.  It was an awesome view.   It is at 2849 feet high.  The trees below had all their new leaves on them so the view was all shades of green.

We were having lunch and a girl pack backer came by.  She had just hiked the Foot Hills Trail from Oconee State Park.  She said it took her 7 days.  She was just 4 miles from finishing.  We congratulated her and off she went.

After lunch we headed up to the summit.  This is a pretty steep and hard climb.   There is a sign where the summit is but no real view.  That is just weird to me.  This is at 3425 ft elevation.

Just past the summit is the Ridge Trail.  Most people turn back at Bald Knob so this trail is not heavily hiked.  We never saw anyone from this point.

We turned on the Ridge Trail and Lisa let Coco off the leash.  We are just walking down along the top of the ridge which is a great trail.  It is pretty level and just goes from Pinnacle to Table Rock.  Lisa and Sherri are talking about how the ground is all tore up and it must be wild pigs.  I would have never known that being a kinda city girl myself.  It really was tore up.  Apparently they root all the ground at eat roots and stuff and pretty much destroy all the vegetation on the mountain.

I learn something knew on the trail every time.  Now I know what to look for.  That is a good thing because all of a sudden Lisa’s dog took off running up the trail after a couple of wild hogs.  I was leading and I think I saw it first and yelled for Lisa.  She took off running after her dog.  We were all terrified.  Just then a pack of 5 hogs came running across the trail in front of Sherri and I!  Some were big, some where small, all we ugly!  They were fast!  They took off toward Lisa and her dog.  I took off running threw my back pack and hiking poles on the ground and started running through the woods after all of them.  We don’t know if they were chasing the dog or just startled by us and running from us or what?!  I can hear Lisa screaming for her dog.  Her voice was terrified as she was screaming for Coco.  I was running as hard as I could through this smelly pig shit area down the back side of this ridge.  Believe me I am not much of a runner, I actually cannot run but pure adrenaline had me hauling ass.  I kept screaming to her, Can you see her can you see her and she yelled back no!  I could hear Sherri yelling.  She stayed back near the trail and was hollering for the dog too.  That was a good thing so we knew how to find our way back to the trail!  Lisa ended up at a area thick with rhododendruns which a dog and those pigs could get through but would be impossible for us.  I went the other direction calling for Coco.  We were all terrified.  I went up a ways and saw a rock clearing that I thought I  might be able to see something and when I got there this fluffy white as hell Labradoodle was walking toward me.  Thank God!  I was screaming at her and to Lisa that I had her!  I had tears in my eyes and headed back towards where she was  with her dog.  This dang dog was walking slowly and actually like she was afraid to sidestep the underbrush.  I was like dang dog you just ran through here.  I didn’t know if she was scared or tired! She immediately put the leash on the dog and started crying!  I was already crying and just bent down and hugged them both!  For what ever reason that damn dog never even barked!  If she would have been barking at least we would have know where she was and if they had gotten to her or not!!!!  We had no idea where those pigs were but this area was very tore up and stunk bad!

I yelled for Sherri so we could find our way back to the trail.  She had picked up my back pack and poles and brought them with her.   We were all shaken for various reasons.  I can’t even tell you all the scenarios that were running through our heads.  We thanked god for Coco being fine.  If anything would of happened to her!  We would of been there forever to make sure she was not lost.  Lisa said she has a terrible sense of direction anyway!

This is not a picture I took but they looked something like this.

The Ridge Trail would of  been a peaceful easy hike but we kept going over that experience and were all on edge the whole way.  It was quite stressful.  Have you ever seen the Parent Trap with Lindsay Lohan?  They go camping and they tell the dads girlfriend there are mountain lions and if she clapped two sticks together she would scare them off.  Well the whole way down the trail Sherri is clapping her poles together! The ground was uprooted for most of the trail back to the Table Rock Trails so it was possible we could see more pigs.  We didn’t take any pics and barely talked about anything else.  We were over this hike.  We reached the Table Rock Trail and made our turn down for the last 2 miles.  This is that trail I remember!  Hard up or down.  Nothing but rocks and roots! Sherri was like “know I remember how hard this damn trail is”. I took this pic cause it looked like a bear in a tree.

We made it back to our campsite and just chilled out. Sherri decided she did not want to do the sunrise hike in just about 8 hours after our 12 mile hike and our stressed out experience.  I didn’t know if she would change her mind or not.  I asked Lisa to take her dog home and come back and do the hike with me.  That would be crazy because its a 2 hour ride home and a 2 hour ride back!  She said she would think about it and she left and went home.

I really really wanted a soda bad!  I don’t usually want soda but we went down to the camp store which has drink machines.  A park ranger was there and we decided to ask him about these pigs.  Sherri told him our story.  He was aware there were some up there but not to what extent and the damage they were doing.  He was very interested in our story.  Then he kinda reprimanded us.  He said it was crazy to run into the woods after the dog.  He said with all the holes they dig and the damage from the fire we could of really gotten hurt, broke a leg or been attached by the hogs ourselves.  We weren’t really thinking about that, just about getting the dog back.

Sherri and I got a fire started and cooked dinner.  It was foil packs of Garlic Chicken and squash and zucchini.  This was real tasty too!  We both got a shower and relaxed a bit!  She still didn’t want to do the sunrise hike so i packed myself some food, got my pack ready and went in the tent at like 6pm!  This was never gonna work.  I cannot sleep in the daylight.

Night 2 in my next blog!

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