Sunday, March 8, 2015

Wandering Toes: Harbison State Forest

Saturday morning brought with it my usual urge to get out of the house. In actuality what that really means is out of town but I didn't have the funds for a road trip. So in a surprising move I decided to check out Harbison State Forest here in Columbia. See, several years back while I was still in the National Guard doing my weekend duty my wife and young son went there once and got more or less lost on the trails. Something I heard about for years afterward whenever my wife wanted to complain about me being away on weekends.

First, if you visit Harbison State Forest the parking fee is fiver dollars. As you approach the gate entering the place you will see a locked metal box and a smaller one connected to it. The larger one is the cash box, but before you push your money through the slot pull out one of the envelopes in the smaller box. Fill out the pertinent information on the outside of the envelope concerning your car and remove the parking pass from the inside. Only then do you place your money inside the envelope and drop it in the lock box. I didn't read the sign listing the instructions and just pushed my five-dollar bill through the locked box slot. No biggie really, not because I went ahead and grabbed an envelope, removed the parking pass, and placed it on my dashboard but because I regularly do something stupid every time I go someplace new.   

I hit the Eagle Trail first, which was classified on the brochure as "Easy." I will not go into the embarrassing details but it kicked my ass. As the picture shows, the trail was hilly and I was surprised how much effort it took. It was pretty chilly yesterday morning and for the first couple of hours I'm sure I had that particular trail all to myself.  

Eagle Trail opened out onto several nice meadows which were very peaceful.

While not my first choice as an escape from the mind numbing confines of suburbia I did thoroughly enjoy walking amongst the trees. Unfortunately, this section of the forest was still close enough to the highway that I occasionally heard the rancid noises of the nearby decaying civilization.  

Due to state budget cuts this is what passes as a bench. No, I'm just kidding, mostly. Certain sections of the forest definitely needed some extensive maintenance. Trail markers and guide posts were few and far between with many of them heavily weathered and barely readable. 

"A fork in the road." I didn't get lost while walking among the several trails I explored but I could easily see how someone could. 

I'll be honest, my biggest compliant was the trail map. During my time in the army I had a better than average ability in land navigation using maps, compasses, and just terrain recognition. This map on the brochure didn't really bear any relation to the actual trails I could see.    

"You are here." Always something good to know. About the best way to navigate was to match up buildings, and in this case a road. With this excursion I have half an idea about exploring other state forests and parks here in South Carolina. With that in mind I might need to buy a handheld GPS.

The one thing the powers-that-be went all out for were the restrooms. It was clean and comfortable and mostly lacking that typical smell associated with port-o-potties. And the real biggie that surprised me was that it had decent toilet paper that didn't feel like sandpaper. So if you have to go in the Harbison State you can go with ease.

All told, I was on the trails for about three and a half hours. Not sure how much I walked but when I finally got back to my car I was ready to go home.

A decent picture of me, which just means I didn't break the camera.


Pixel Peeper said...

Ha - I've walked there, but it was a long time ago. A long walk in the woods (or, really, anywhere) will do wonders for clearing your mind.

I have a decent sense of direction, but was afraid I'd gotten lost in the scrub lands area near our house once. I was glad I had my little Garmin with me.

Nice picture of you!

The Bug said...

When I was in NC over Thanksgiving, I visited Bakers Mountain & had a similar walking experience - I thought I was going to expire on the trail! Fortunately I had my cell phone & was using the Map My Walk app so I was able to find my car again :)

Love the selfie - good to see your face :)

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Smarticus and I went walking in the woods yesterday, too. I don't have a GPS, but fortunately, he has one built into his brain.

Great pic! You should use it for your profile picture.

sage said...

I've not heard of the park. How many miles of trails are they--it must be a decent size if you walked for 3.5 hours.

Marja said...

Oh I love walking Love your track. Is it hilly you said. You would fall over little bumps like that, not seeing them lol. 3.5 hours is a decent time though Well done