Do you know what a halfback is, and I don’t mean a kind of football player?
It seems many retirees from the Northeast who have been worn down by winter’s ice and snow move to a Florida retirement community. After a few years, Florida gets to them; perhaps it’s the traffic, congestion, being so faraway, the flatness, or mind-numbing sameness and they want to move back. But they don’t want the winters in the Northeast either. So, they move halfway back to North or South Carolina, hence they are halfbacks.
Our sister-in-law and hiking guide Becky now living in Tryon, NC has come up with another hike for Hannah and me. Today we drive five miles to the man-made Lake Lanier just over the North Carolina border into South Carolina for the start of the Palmetto Trail.
Though the state of South Carolina is not a part of the Georgia-to-Maine Appalachian Trail (pronounced locally as App-a-latch-in), South Carolinians do have the 425-mile, multi-use Palmetto Trail from Lake Lanier to the South Carolina coastline.
This mid-October Monday morning with the temperatures going to 80F (40s in Maine!), we are one of two vehicles at the trailhead parking. Setting off on a well-marked trail towards the distant Vaughan’s Gap, we three walk side-by-side on a tree-covered, red dirt fire road.
Hiking with Becky is a delight as she is a friend of nearly 40 years; she like me is an out-law (i.e. we married into the Kraai Family [my entre was Hannah Kraai and Becky married Hannah’s brother Doug Kraai]). Though Doug died of brain cancer nearly 17 years ago, we have maintained our friendship with Becky over the years. Hiking with Becky is a joy for she is a positive life force, sees the glass ¾ full as we all participate equally in the trail conversation.
Though fall foliage color has come and nearly gone in our native Maine, here in South Carolina the brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges are waiting to burst forth in three to four weeks.
The trail gently rises until Becky veers right, through some brush towards the Palmetto Trail Falls, which she has learned about as a member of the local hiking group. Flopping grass gives way to a narrow trail to the falls. In short order we come upon a soul-enriching, life affirming, got-to-believe-in-miracles falls coming down the mountain ahead. See the video below for yourself.
This side trail to the falls eventually weaves back to the Palmetto Trail which we take in the direction of Vaughan’s Gap. After 70 minutes out in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we about face and return to the trailhead with the back and forth conversation of old friends.
That night, our short and sweet evening blessing is Thank you for the food before us, the family beside us, and the love between us. (Thank you Tara and Anthony for these words.)