Not Home For The Holidays: Our Adventurous Mountain Getaway
Are you ready for a photo filled post?
Last week Dan and I had perhaps the best vacation together. Ever.
From start to finish, we had the best time. And because this is my blog, I am using it to scrapbook the trip to lock it into my memory.
I hope you don’t mind! I have been so excited to share our adventures with you. It’s amazing how much I miss blogging when I’m not dong it. But I won’t lie, it was freaking great to step away from all things work and just focus on enjoying life and each other.
Hello Peace In The Forest Retreat
What I love about the mountains is that while it feels like a world away from Charleston, it’s a quick 4 hour drive. Which felt even faster since we listened to Serial for most of the trip. Have you listened in? It’s addicting!
Once we made it to our secluded cabin, “Peace In The Forest Retreat“, we felt grateful for the smooth trip. As for the cabin itself, it was small. Much smaller than I anticipated. And after staying in such a luxurious cabin for our last visit, I was a little disappointed. At first.
It was cute, quaint, and ended up being perfect for the two of us. The owner, David, met us when we arrived and went out of his way to make sure we had firewood, the place was spotless and we had everything we needed.
I ended up falling in love with the place. How cute is that fireplace? If Dan and I ever go back (just the two of us), we would definitely stay there again. But with friends… we’ll definitely need a bigger space. And a dishwasher <– my only complaint.
That night, we unpacked, decorated our cabin for Christmas (lights and all) and enjoyed some wine and delicious white bean and kale soup. <— I loosely followed the recipe and added shiitake mushrooms.
The next morning, it was still rainy and we went back and forth on what to do. In the end, we decided to not let a little rain stop us from doing what we came for and layered up for a day of hiking.
I have to give Dan credit for our hikes, he researched and planned them all (he used this website for ideas). When he recommended hiking for waterfalls, I was all in.
Whitewater Falls had both an upper and lower falls, though at first we had no idea. We planned on hiking the lower falls, which we did.
Through downpours and lots of mud…
Once we got there the fog and rain made it close to impossible to really see how gorgeous it was, but none the less it was awesome. I promise there is a BIG waterfall in the picture above and behind us.
On the hike back, we found the trail leading to the upper falls and since it was still early, we decided to go for it.
This ended up being one of my favorite experiences.
The rain let up enough for us to enjoy some trail running. The trail itself was gorgeous, following the river the entire way. And when we got to the falls… we were speechless.
I’ve never seen something so beautiful.
We aren’t sure if all the rain added to the waterfall, but it was roaring. And each time we looked up our heads continued to arch back, the waterfall never seemed to end. After attempting pictures (which doesn’t do the experience justice) we made the 2.7 miles back to the car smiling ear to ear.
We both agreed we were glad we didn’t let rain stop us.
With 8 miles covered, we headed back to the cabin for some champagne and enchiladas!
The Highest Point In South Carolina: A Christmas Adventure
Christmas kicked off with presents, cinnamon rolls and a mimosa.
Then we headed out on the adventure we had been excited for since our last visit.
Table Rock State Park contains some of the most strenuous trails in the state.
One being a steep and steady 3.6 mile climb to the Table Rock outlook, and the other being an even more strenuous 4.2 mile climb to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, which just happens to be the highest peak in South Carolina.
During the summer, we climbed Pinnacle and had the goal to then jump on the Table Rock trail (by using the Ridge Trail) to conquer both. But it wasn’t meant to be. We ran out of time, energy and water.
This time… we were determined.
And since we didn’t get to Table Rock last time, it was first on the list.
When we arrived at the park, we were greeted with this:
Thanks South Carolina!
I was very surprised to see other families out hiking the trails on such a beautiful and special day. It made my heart happy from the start.
3.6 miles… it doesn’t seem like that much, yet it took us about an hour and twenty minutes to reach the top.
Check out some of the climb…
There were some truly amazing views along the way to help catch our breath (or take it away).
Governor’s Rock one of them…
Don’t you love the “steps”?
Then it was back to business to continue our journey!
And finally…we hit the summit.
We ate lunch looking out over the world and attempting to take the moment in.
And then it was time to head down, as fast as we could. We decided that anytime the trail wasn’t a CRAZY incline, we would run. So that’s what we did. I took the GoPro off at this point so we could concentrate on speed and safety.
Time flew by and before we knew it, it was time to hit the Mountain Ridge Trail, which would tie together Table Rock with Pinnacle.
Our last visit we went in the reverse order, and that messed us up big time this trip! While I had some memories of a downhill trail, I didn’t remember the extent of it. This time, the entire trail was uphill… very very uphill. Our bodies were burning, my butt was on fire, and Dan kept saying his calves were tightening up.
This out of all the trails, was the hardest. There were no moments to rest, and every time you thought you were at the top, it was simply the top of a different mountain, which meant we would then have a minor decline before scaling up another mountain.
Finally, we hit the summit if Pinnacle Mountain!
The HIGHEST point in South Carolina. Trust me, my body could tell!
And then… it was time to make the trip down, down, down. This trail was gorgeous and filled with so many different views, turns, climbs, creeks and rocks.
Dan and I enjoyed each minute as we ran and climbed down.
Though our bodies were tired (and we both experienced a fall) we couldn’t get over the experience. What took us several hours to get up the 1st trip, took us just 45 minutes to get down.
This picture cracks me up!
And after 4 hours of hiking, we gave each other a fist pump and celebrated our success. We beat our goal by 2 hours.
How did we celebrate? With more champagne and an amazing steak dinner!
The Biggest Waterfall In South Carolina
Our final full day, we agreed that though we weren’t sore, our bodies were tired. We didn’t have it in us to go for another strenuous hike. Plus, we had plans to go to a winery that afternoon.
Instead, we made a very windy drive up to Caesar’s Head where we stopped for lunch and views.
How gorgeous is that? I think I fell in love with my state even more during this trip.
Then we asked the forest ranger for a recommendation of a easy to moderate trail. She suggestions Raven Falls, the highest waterfall in SC, and just a 2 mile hike out. Sounded great. She also said it would take about 2-3 hours.
The trail itself was nice and flat (well, more flat than the previous days) so we ran most of the 2 miles. We made it to the lookout zone in 23 minutes. We both laughed thinking, 2 hours??
As for the falls, it was gorgeous. But so far away! To be honest, being up close to the Whitewater Falls had a larger affect on me.
We celebrated a bit differently after this hike. We headed back to the cabin, slipped into normal clothes and enjoyed a wine tasting at Victoria Valley Vineyards.
I loved this place just as much the second time. A few glasses of wine, a cheese plate, and I was one happy lady. It was the perfect ending to the perfect trip.
We were less than an hour from Dan’s alma mater, Clemson. He had been dying to go. So we stopped by the campus on the way home to walk around, hear stories about his college years and pick of a few new t-shirts.
Seeing how happy it made him to show me around and tell me about his experiences… now that was the perfect ending to the perfect trip!