A Waterfall for My Birthday
I hit a major milestone this past week as I entered my sixth decade.
I had not given the date much thought until a couple days before my birthday when an uncle and aunt called to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. They asked if I had any special plans (which I did not) and then insisted that I make some to celebrate the big day. I promptly let the thought slip from my mind as we were celebrating that evening with our sons, daughters-in-love, and granddaughter.
As I sipped my coffee the morning of my birthday, Jenni asked if I had considered what I wanted to do to celebrate turning sixty, inferring the day was my choice. I said I wanted to hike a new waterfall. (Be careful of the offers you make a birthday boy!)
I had recently seen some photos of Station Cove Falls in Oconee County, SC that made the waterfall shine as a truly magnificent and photogenic falls. It was about an hour away; yet, we had never seen it. I did some quick online research for directions, length of hike, and the degree of difficulty. Although not all the information turned out to be correct, it was close enough.
Even with a late start, we arrived at the trailhead by 11 AM. My sources said there was room for four cars so we actually drove our Civic rather than take Wanda the van. It would just make for easier parking. The way it appeared to me once we arrived, there was parking for 10-15 vehicles if they did it right. It was muddy and we watched one truck that came after us do some sliding and spinning. We picked the spot with the most gravel and prepared for the hike. The trail was closer to three quarters of a mile (one way) than the half-mile one source touted. It did cross a few wooden bridges (nothing intimidating) and one final creek crossing over stones near the waterfall. Even with the wet, muddy conditions we had good footing and made it across.
When we first started down the trail, a woman, small child, and dog were behind us. Correction, the small child was RIGHT behind us as he kept circling back to the woman and then running to us. Eventually she caught up and we let them all pass us. Five minutes later the child was playing in the mud so we passed them! I’m not sure what they did after that because it took them twenty minutes to catch up to us at the waterfall. In fact, there were several other people who got there before them.
The waterfall was an amazing cascade of water, dropping short distances from rock to rock over about an 80 ft total drop. I spent considerable time trying to photograph in long exposure, while allowing for several different visitors to enjoy being close to the falls. I find that most people do not linger very long once they reach the waterfall, unless they have another purpose like photographs.
When the woman, child, and dog reached us, the little one was all over the place. Sometimes ankle deep in water and one time on his side after slipping on the rocks. Jenni and I left them to enjoy it to themselves (but I don’t think they needed anyone’s permission.) We hiked out and changed our muddy shoes at the back of the car. We did pop over to the Oconee Station Cove Historic Site up and across the road. It has limited hours and we were there on the wrong day, but it features two old buildings from the 1790s and 1805. One served as a defensive fort from local tribes and the other was a residence at some point.
If you are on a quest for the South Carolina State Parks Ultimate Outsider honors, by visiting all 47 state parks, there is a stamp for Oconee Station available both at the trailhead and the historic buildings. The quality of the stamp will forever disappoint you though. I stamped my book a total of six times between the two stamps and never got more than a ghost image in my book.
As Jenni and I hiked, we talked with great joy about the prospects of bringing our granddaughter Emma with us in a few years. I remember spending great moments outdoors with some of my grandparents and hope it can be the same for her.
It certainly gives me something to look forward to as I wait for the days of Medicare and Social Security!