Sunday, April 1, 2012

Quick Trip to a Familiar Place

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The weather and my schedule have conspired to keep me off the bike for a couple of weeks.  I ventured out on a rainy Saturday morning this weekend, however, taking a chance that the weather would be at least tolerable.

It was!  I didn't have a lot of time to spend, so around sixty miles was all I rode, but it was certainly worthwhile. 

From Easley, I go over to Pickens and up US-178, which is moderately curvy, to SC-11, the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway, where the Holly Springs Country Store is that bikers gather at.  No others are there, so I turn right on 11, and ride to Table Rock State Park.  There is a visitor center there. 

I take this photo of Pinnacle Mountain from the parking lot of the visitor center.  It is the highest point entirely within South Carolina.  You can hike up there if you have a strong heart and leather lungs.  It is a strenuous climb of four hours, six miles round trip, with an elevation gain of 2673 feet.
Your head might be in the clouds if you do that today, but didn't it turn out to be beautiful?

From the visitor center, I cross SC-11 and go up the road into the park.  There is a pull-off with this view of Table Rock.

 Here is a better view:

Pretty, yes?  You can also hike to the top of Table Rock mountain, a moderate four-hour, 6-1/2 mile round trip with an elevation gain of 2433 feet.   

How did it get its name, you ask?  Well, according to a sign at the pull-off:
To a giant, Table Rock could be exactly what its name suggests -- a 3124 foot [above sea level] high table made of granite.  To eat at this table, the giant would need a seat -- Stool Mountain at 2600 feet served this purpose. 

That's how the Cherokee saw the memorable landscape before you.  Their beliefs, shaped by their environment, featured an enormous spirit who loomed over this mountain range, his shadow forming the bluish haze.  Sah-ka-na-ga, meaning "Great Blue Hills of God," was the name given this place. 

Settlers, influenced by the story of the gigantic chieftain dining here, preserved the legend when naming the landmarks. 
 The blue arrow is the stool.  The red arrow is the table.  

After I leave the park, I continue on SC-11 to SC-8.  The road runs to Pumpkintown, then SC-135 runs back to Easley.

I'm glad I got a chance to get out today.  I would have missed this great scenery.  Come over some time and ride.  You won't be disappointed. 
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