Another semester running away means it's time for another art hike. Once each semester I go on a hike by myself (or with my kids or with my dogs) and I let the art department know that they are welcome to tag along. It's not an official event in any way, but the ones who want to go are welcome. I have but one rule: no climbing on the waterfalls. People who climb on waterfalls die. I'd prefer to stay off the news.
Last Saturday we may have had one of our largest art hikes ever with 18 people and two dogs. This still kind of amazes me that almost 20% of the department would choose to spend a Saturday with school people.
I picked one of my favorite waterfalls for this one and we almost didn't get to hike it. This is an out of the way hike, just outside of a popular state park. When I've hiked it before I only saw a couple of other humans the whole day. Parking is very limited so we carpooled and then sardined even more to have only 3 cars to park. We arrived to find the parking area overfull and we struggled to find roadside parking a little walk away.
The hike starts out on a steep old logging road and for a half mile it goes straight up. Several steps in and everyone was huffing and puffing. The middle flattens out pretty good and then it really gets steep. Zeke The Wonderdog was having to do some serious rock climbing.
We took our time so as not to kill anyone and since we were a group of art majors, most everyone had cameras and there was plenty of beauty all around to take in.
The thing I love most about my iphone is having a tiny camera with me at all times. And the thing I love most about not using any kind of case with my iphone is that I take an unusually large number of accidental photos. My big goofy fingers hit buttons or I think I've turned it off and it continues to click away. It's always great to look at the photos I think I took later and find the hidden gems. This one cracked me up. Upon arriving at the base of the waterfall I stopped to take a photo through the trees. The descent to the base was steep and Katherine appeared only in one of a series of 3 photos. It was like magic. This is one of the only times I've ever seen Katherine not smiling.
The waterfall was Falls Creek Falls in SC just outside of Jones Gap State Park. It's a little over 150 feet and it actually continues down a little below what everyone calls the base.
Our custom is to hike to the waterfall or whatever other destination we may have and then stop to eat and take it in. There's another viewing area just above the the first ledge and everyone grabbed a spot there to relax and eat.
This was Bolt's first hike with us. I was super excited that she joined us.
If the blog still lets you click on a photo to zoom in, please examine this one closely. Jamea is demonstrating some exceptional waterfall selfie skills.
This one is also worth a zoom. Sabrina was laughing hysterically at something. She was also stuck out on that rock and had to be rescued by her friends.
The all important group photo to prove we made it. Because if there's no photo, it didn't really happen.
And then another to include Zeke and me. From left-ish that's Drayton, Smoak, JJJamea, Ashley, Spencer, Uncle Ricky, Jocelyn, Quattlebaum, Justin, Katherine, Bolt, Slagle, Caleb, Sabrina, Seth and Grace the Cat Lady.
As I mentioned at the end of the previous post, part of my Lent duties was to try to take the dogs somewhere each week to help better socialize them. Zeke is my go-to hiking partner so I decided to really give him some immersion therapy by forcing him to interact with humans.
We got him from a rescue situation and whatever the poor dude experienced in the first month of his life, it still haunts him. Loud noises make him cower. Sudden moves freak him out. Humans not named McAbee make him want to run in the opposite direction. But if you knock on our door or appear to be threatening McAbees in any way, he turns into a werewolf and will absolutely eat you whole. He's also not a fan of other dogs.
He's basically antisocial and hates people unless he's related to them or he chooses to be around them. Or as my students put it on this hike, he's the dog version of me. But we both behaved and we didn't eat anyone. He may have almost pulled me to my death at the waterfall but only almost.
Slagle brought the slack line and on the way back down we stopped at a good spot and set it up. That's Jocelyn focusing and making it all the way across. I tried it just so Spencer would try it and I ended up making about 2 steps before almost taking Quattlebaum down the cliff with me when I fell. Spencer, however, made it all the way across like a pro.
But no one was a skilled as the Slagle. He's part monkey, part robot.
We packed the sardines again at the trailhead and threw in a piece of wood Sabrina made me save and an old metal oil can to take back to the sculpture studio. Then we made our way to Travelers Rest for a rooftop meal at The Whistlestop Cafe by the Swamp Rabbit Trail. They allow dogs up to 20 pounds so we had Zeke think very light thoughts and we pretended he was a lap dog. The food was great but it's always great after a good hike. But that peanut butter and chocolate milkshake for dessert.....that was really the good stuff. We walked over to the Pink ice cream place for the non-milkshake eaters before breaking camp and heading back home.
My people are the best people. Everyone had a great time and no one broke my rule. I'll invite them again next time.