The Carnivorous Plant FAQ Field Trip Report -

Appalachian Excursion in 2005!

Return to the Trip Overview

Returning to South Carolina
Defeated, I returned to South Carolina, to the escarpment features near Caesar's Head State Park. At least it was a little warmer there! I was hoping to find the only site in South Carolina where Sarracenia purpurea var. montana still occurs. I had a pretty good idea on how to find it, but even so, I gave myself only a 30% chance of being successful.

I had contacted a botanist at Clemson University but he was unwilling to give me directions (a reasonable precaution--I don't fault him). Because of his reluctance I considered leaving the site alone, even though it was accessed by a trail and was on public land. However, I decided to give it a try but to stay mindful of not venturing onto delicate habitat.

Because of a few final and irritating delays, I reached the trailhead much later than I had hoped. (Damn that surprise snowfall for all its delays and frustrations!) The round trip was several miles long, involved a big climb up the escarpment, and the trail was rated as being "most strenuous." Furthermore, I am not very familiar with hiking through deciduous hardwood forests, so I was concerned with mistaking the crisscrossing game paths with the trail. It might get easy to get disoriented or even lost, especially since GPS reception can crumble under dense forest canopy and rough topography. Now you see why Mandy had bagged on me!

I gave myself two hours to hike to the site, two hours there, and two hours back. That meant I would be hiking the last part of the hike after sunset, a fact I didn't relish. I packed only my most essential gear and started at a brisk walk. I checked the time and my progress frequently. The trail was usually easy to follow, but on some of the steeper climbs and in ravines it spread out and became very faint. A few of the fabulously beautiful stream crossings were across steep and slippery balds. On one of these, cable had been strung across the stream to provide handholds. Still, I kept a good pace--I spurred myself on with nervous thoughts of hiking the mountains by starlight...

As the trail continued to rise, I met an older man with his dog. This guy was pure Appalachians hiker. Even though time was at a premium I stopped to chat--and this guy could talk a good tale. For the next twenty precious minutes he told me about local hikes I should try on my next visit, about spectacular hidden views known only to locals, about the fugitive Eric Rudolph who had putatively holed up in this area, and especially about the dangers of hiking in the Appalachians. Again and again he admonished me about not letting "The Dark catch you," and what I should do if such a thing happened--about staying put, staying warm, and making a dry leaf bed1. And the way he said it, you could hear the capital letters. Not "the dark" but rather "The Dark."

It was hard to politely break out of conversation, especially since he was such an interesting guy, but finally I was on my way again. My precious time eaten into, I jogged uphill the next steep mile.

Even though I was on a tight schedule, I had to stop to photograph this lovely little Hypoxis hirsuta bouquet!

1Devoid of copperheads, a venomous snake.

back      forward

Revised: October 2007
©Barry Rice, 2005