Hiking with Ben on Paris Mountain, S. Carolina

by Melanie and Jim

A third of a century, ten days, 1977 miles, nine states. Lots of numbers but how do they add up? The first number is how long we’ve been married. Yep, in February we celebrated 33 and a third years of wedded bliss. The other three numbers describe the trip we took in honor of that occasion. We have family in South Carolina, people we love and don’t get to spend enough time with. We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to visit them.

(On the way down we stopped at Metropolis, IL and took these pictures with Superman.)

Our family members live east of Greenville, SC. By coincidence, our friend Ben is in Greenville. Since we were going to be in the area, we arranged to meet Ben for dinner one evening and a hike the next morning.

Ben is a bicyclist and hiker, so he’s in great shape and was eager to lead our hike. He also … crashes, or at least has in the past. A few years ago while riding, he took a nasty fall that did a lot of damage. We saw the X-rays and let me just say they were spectacular. And last summer he told me about a fall on a trail in North Carolina. After tumbling several feet down the mountain, over rocks and between trees, he finally stopped unhurt. When Jim and I hiked in New Mexico in September, the trail edged along cliffs, and we joked that we didn’t want to “do a Ben.”

We agreed to hike at Paris Mountain State Park, just north of Greenville. Paris Mountain is a monadnock, or a mountain that stands alone. Its highest elevation is above 2,000 feet. There are a number of trails of varying lengths. We chose a loop trail that is about 4.5 miles.

The uphill slope had a gradual rise and a number of switchbacks to keep it that way. Though there are plenty of rocks and roots, its relatively smooth surface and slope make it an attractive run for mountain bikers as well as hikers. Here is a picture of Ben and me on our way up. This picture and all others were taken by Jim.

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Another look at the footing on the way up — not always smooth.

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In contrast to the winter we left in Iowa, South Carolina and the park were green. Rhododendrons and holly are evergreen, in fact.

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When we reached the top of our trail and headed back downhill, the characteristics changed dramatically. The slope was much steeper, the trail narrower and with more difficult footing. Several places offered great opportunities to bash your head on the rocks. At one point I wondered how Ben and Jim would carry me out, if I “did a Ben” and slipped on the slick rocks.

The downhill trail followed a small stream for much of the way. Though we couldn’t always see the water, we could hear it. Near the bottom the stream widened and calmed some. Jim caught this turtle sunning itself on a log.

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It is about 6″ wide.

Thanks for the hike, Ben, and thanks to Ben and Kathy and Lucy, for the good company at dinner. If you are ever in Iowa, we hope you stop to visit us.

 

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6 thoughts on “Hiking with Ben on Paris Mountain, S. Carolina

  1. shoreacres

    What a nice getaway. Congrats on your anniversary, too. A visit like that is a good way to celebrate.

    I especially enjoyed seeing the turtle. Ours are beginning to come out of hibernation, and just today I saw my first lizard, sunning himself on the wall. It’s been a good long time since there was any sun. I know he was as happy to see it as I was. Tomorrow, it’s back to clouds and rain for the equinox. Ah, well. It is 68 just now, and every window in the house is open. That’s a pretty good consolation prize.

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    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Chilly here tomorrow, and rain likely. The weather is seasonably shifty… But the other day we walked and heard the red-winged blackbird trilling so loudly, proud to be the first back to the neighborhood. Soon the wrens will be nesting, and we may be graced with Orioles. And even the pelicans might be seen, circling like confetti in the sunlight. 🙂

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