Irvin Pitts Memorial Park

Irvin Pitts Memorial Park is a small park in the town of Ware Shoals, SC, home of the annual Ware Shoals Catfish Festival. Irvin Pitts is a small park located on the banks of the Saluda River. The river at this point contains a number of interesting rock formations, as well some interesting birds (and apparently a bunch of catfish).

Great Blue Heron

Muscovy Duck

Distance from downtown Greenville: 39 miles.

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West First Wood Fired Pizza

I've never gotten a decent photo of this place so I won't post one at all. West First is one of the very few good restaurants located in Hendersonville, NC. It has a great atmosphere, fantastic pizza, limited but good beer menu and a very nice wine selection. In addition to great pizza they also have several other pasta dishes. The pasta is handmade locally. I recommend the tagliatelle.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 38 miles

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Sassafras Mountain

Despite the fact that Sassafras Mountain is the highest peak in South Carolina, it gets very little attention. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll know why. The summit is astonishingly unremarkable. A power cable runs across the top, and a dumpster and propane tank are all that greets visitors.

So why did I bother? Well I’ve been reading a book called A Walk Atop America by Douglas Butler, a North Carolina resident. Dr. Butler spent several years reaching the highpoints of all fifty states. This particular hobby is known as highpointing. There is supposed to be a highpointing register at each summit, but I found the register missing from Sassafrass. On the metal register container someone had scratched, “Needs new register September 2001.”

At a 3560’elevation Sassafras is not much to brag about, especially considering that Tennessee’s and North Carolina’s high points are almost twice the elevation - those being Clingman’s Dome (6643) and Mt. Mitchell (6684). Even though it’s possible to drive to the summit, I suggest you hike to it, via the Foothills Trail. The shortest route is to start from Chimney Rock Gap, located here. This is a 5 mile round trip. The trail is nice and will give you a nice walk in the woods, but it’s not spectacular. If you’d like a truly outstanding trail, start at Table Rock State Park located here. Take the Pinnacle trail to the beginning of the Foothills trail and follow it to Sassafrass. This will likely take two days though. It will also take you past SC's second highest peak, Pinnacle Mountain, which is nothing special either but the trail to it makes it worth the trip.

In the meantime, I highly recommend Dr. Butler’s book. His writing is informative but conversational in tone as he describes his adventures reaching the fifty state highpoints. That’s quite an accomplishment considering that several of them are above 12,000 feet.

(Incidentally, Clingman’s Dome and Mt. Mitchell were originally named after two rivals. Mt. Mitchell was originally called Clingman’s Peak and a nearby peak was called Mt. Mitchell. Later it was determined that Mt. Mitchell was higher than Clingman’s Peak so they reversed the names, paying homage to Elias Mitchell who first made the mountain famous. Thomas Clingman actually discovered the highest peak but he was such a jerk about it, that the public chose to honor Mitchell anyway, later naming Tennessee’s highest peak after Clingman. Clingman’s Dome is located in Smokey Mountain National Park. The Mountains to Sea Trail starts there and the Appalachian Trail runs crosses the mountain as well. Clingman’s Peak can be seen on the left while driving up to Mt. Mitchell. The Mountains to Sea trail passes through Mt. Mitchell and Clingman’s Peak as well. You read more about the history of these mountains in another great book called Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains by Timothy Silver.)

Distance from downtown Greenville: 42 miles

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Falls Park

Falls Park is covered quite extensively by other local bloggers, as well as the local press (all of whom provide far better images than my point and shoot digital has provided), but I thought I’d post some things that don’t get mentioned very often.

Falls Park was non-existent until just a few years ago. The largest waterfall was covered by a bridge, so many people didn’t know it existed. The area around the falls was a home to vagrants and other assorted characters and was covered with trash. Fortunately though, with the help of the Carolina Foothills Garden club and commitment from local business and government leaders (who sometimes abused eminent domain law), it’s now a fantastic location, surrounded by several good restaurants.

The river itself, the Reedy, begins in Northern Greenville county, is fed by small streams flowing through local pastures and storm water run off from the city, eventually dumping into the Saluda. In other words, you really shouldn’t swim or wade in it unless you’re looking for a bad case of Giardia.

The bank of the falls was originally home to Richard Pearis who married a Cherokee woman and was given several acres by her family. At the time of the Revolutionary War, he sided with the Tories so afterward the state of South Carolina confiscated his land. Paris Mountain was named after him, although they obviously got the spelling wrong.

Despite the crowds, there is a fair amount of wildlife located in the park, including ducks, chipmunks, and snakes. In fact, there are a lot of snakes. Once my sons and I spotted four within a half hour. We’ve seen garter snakes, banded water snakes and copperheads on many occasions. During the warmer months it’s rare not to spot one. On one occasion we spotted a crawfish (a.k.a. crawdad, crayfish) about four inches in length. When I picked it up we noticed that dozens of crawfish offspring were attached to her underside. So we put her down and she hightailed it back to the water. There are also a fair number of fish in the river, all of which appear to be blue gill. Above is a Great Blue Heron I photographed near the small footbridge that leads to Cleveland Park.

Across the river is a small cave that can be reached by hopping across the large boulders in the middle of the river. It’s a little tough getting back across though.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 0 miles.

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Nantahala Cabins

Located just outside of Smokey Mountains National Park, these cabins offer a number of amenities including hot tub, pool table, fire place and a large kitchen. The Appalachian Trail, Nantahala Lake and Nantahala River are only a few miles away.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 117 Miles

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R.I.P. Sir Edmund

"I Don't Mind"
By Peter Bingen

Well I am looking, I am searching, I have found
Near the ground, my soul, myself, beneath this trail.
There's no other place I'd rather be.
Can't you see me out here walkin' in the rain and hail.

Purpose of life seems to me
Not to take yourself too seriously.
I wouldn't want to be an old man sittin' in an office
Building someplace far away, with worry on my face.

Well you can take my car, my stereo, my little money.
Leave me with nothin’ but my trail family.
Take my dress up clothes, my cheap cologne,
My college loans I don't mind, I don't mind.

Well if that taxman comes lookin’ I'm at 10,000 feet
Cookin' up some oatmeal or some rice and beans.

I worship the Spirit who doesn't just look down
He looks up and through and all around,
Find Him in the rocks and trees. Cause there's no reason to pray
When you wake up every day to the sunrise over Cito Peak.

So find some ground lace up your boots start walkin'
And you will find reason, enough reason to believe.

Well you can drop your worries at the parking lot
Or way down in the city where the sun burns hot.
Although civilization is a nice place to visit,
I wouldn't want to live there.

Oh just one final paragraph of advice don't burn yourselves out.
Be as I am. It's not enough to fight for the land.
It's even more important to enjoy it while you can, while it's still here.

So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around.
Ramble out yonder explore the woods, encounter the grizz,
Climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers,
Breathe deep that yet sweet lucid air.

Sit quiet for awhile contemplate the precious stillness
That mystery and awesome space enjoy yourself.
Keep your brain in your head and your head attached to your body.
Body active and alive. And I promise you this much.

I promise you this one sweet victory, over our enemies.
Over those desk bound people with their hearts in a box
And their eyes hypnotized by calculators.
I promise you this one sweet victory...

Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria

"Ron Paul is the best....Robespierre was actually... Saliere was Mozart's rival but unlike the movie suggested, he actually...When Stravinsky first performed his Rite of Spring he was booed off the stage...."

Can you imagine a bar where you might hear those topics being discussed by the barkeep and his customers? Well that's exactly what I overheard while shooting a little pool this afternoon with the old lady at my favorite place.

Barley's has the best beer selection in the Upstate and a short but good menu. They also provide the best pool room in town.

27 taps downstairs. 31 taps upstairs. How can you go wrong? No Bud, no Miller, no Coors - Barley's sells only hand-crafted beer. In addition to the downtown Greenville location, there are three other locations all within in a day's drive of Greenville in Asheville, Knoxville and Spindale.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 0 miles

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Nantahala Outdoor Center

The Nantahala Outdoor Center is located where the Appalachian Trail crosses the Nantahala river. (There are also several branch locations.) They offer many adventure trips, most of them centered around paddling on the areas best rivers.

They also have an outfitters shop, a couple restaurants and a general store which not only sells the best local microbrew in the area but offers a decent wine selection as well. Lodging is also available.

Distance from downtown Greenville: 129 miles

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