Studio Backdrop

2 09 2006

A cold breeze met us with absolute contempt. “Are you really dumb enough to go hiking today?” it smacked at our ears. “Why yes I am!” came the dumb reply from my mind. Since when has freezing temps kept us at home?
Liberty and Pickens breezed by us and Pumpkintown nearly missed us as we sped by. Caesar kept watch over the foothills and Piedmont, but we continued on to the trailhead for Raven Cliff.
By eleven we were leaving any trace of civilization behind. The trail began to undulate with the ridges and forty pounds in my pack seemed like a hundred. Soon, though, my tight muscles would relax and we maintained a quick pace. At the highest elevations, we looked out over the mountainous terrain which sprawled out beside us. The hillside below descended quickly and disappeared before touching bottom. The lowest elevations were hidden from our sight. The world was unreal for a time. It was as though we were in the world’s largest movie lot. The terrain derectly beside us was real, but beyond that sharp edge lay the most beautiful studio backdrop I’ve ever seen. Mountains in their deep green met the sky with it’s sharp blue. The Artist’s work was incredible. No human touch could be seen; it was all God’s awesome Creation.
The trail began to descend slightly and soon we were on nearly flat ground. The winding dirt path became rocky and fell into what looked like an old streambed. We walked under the face of the earth for a while until the trail rose out of the deep rut. The way was still very rocky; our road looking like something from a Robert Frost poem.


Soon, our path led us down to a river which we followed for a short while until we reached a bridge. The bridge was like none I’ve ever seen before. It was a wooden cable-supported suspension bridge. The cables were cemented into the rock on each side of the span. The bridge swayed with our steps but made not one sound in its moving.


(Sorry about the pic quality on this one, it is a screen capture from a video)
It wasn’t long before we had to make our way down to the rocks. The navigation of the “trail” down to the falls was tricky to say the least. We finally made it down and began the tedious crossing of the slick rocks. We realized that this 420 foot waterfall was not one continuous drop, but a series of steps that culminated in one large plummet of well over a hundred feet.




As the egde came nearer, we slowed our pace. The world fell away to the depths, and our view became trees across the deep valley. Minutes passed as we built the courage to approach the edge. Thoughts of my fall earlier in the year crossed my mind and I hesitated to go any closer. I had to do it though; for me…and to get some cool photos. I hovered at the edge, teetering forward to get the entire shot down the falls. I couldn’t take it for long and had to step back. It was Jarred’s turn. I could hardly watch. I was able to walk to the edge, but I certainly couldn’t watch anyone else do it. Thoughts of a splatter stain on the rocks below ran through my head as Jarred peered over the precipice.

We headed back to the trail and started the difficult climb back up to the bridge. I shot a quick video from the middle of the bridge (from which the photo of the bridge in this blog entry came from) and we were off. The four-mile hike back was a time of reflection, but our day was not over yet.

A quick stop at Caesar’s Head gave Jarred the chance to climb in the Devil’s Kitchen.


The view from Caesar’s Head is a panorama of many of South Carolina’s natural treasures. Table Rock and Pinnalce Mountain stand in sharp contrast to the Piedmont in the south. Just to the north (right) of Table Rock is Jones Gap, a deep and craggy valley that looks nearly impassable. Just below the observation deck and through Devil’s Kitchen is a profile view of Caesar’s Head.



We headed back to the car after a few minutes and started back toward Central. On the way down the snaking mountain highway, I put the car in neutral and coasted for several miles. Pumpkintown, Pickens and Liberty passed us again, waiving their backcountry hands and yellin’ “Ya’ll come back now!” I’m sure we’ll be back again soon.

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