Didn't stop in Georgia. Sorry! Left camp amongst the slash pine in the Ocala National Forest, headed to Daytona Beach, my last chance for some surfing in warm water. Of course, it started to rain, which made it a little unpleasant. Got the hell out of Florida. Our next destination was Looking Glass Rock, in NW South Carolina. Weren't sure where we would be going between now and then of course, so we opened up the maps, and pointed at gestured until we found some green patches.
Another national forest that has roads lined with private property, but we eventually found a "hunters camp" in the Sumter National Forest, NE of Clinton. Drove all over Clinton looking for a grocery store, and eventually had to ask! (Normally groceries are really easy to find) We even found a bottle shop that proudly claimed that "If we don't have it, you don't need it" So what are man's basest needs? Beef jerky, and budweiser. They had some other things too, but hardly a great selection of beer. (This was to be a sign of things to come, as we voyaged deeper into the mountains of the south)
The hunter's camp was completely vacant, I guess it wasn't hunting season, so we got to pick the best site, and spent the rest of the evening sitting in the cold, drinking wine.
Next morning we headed off to the nearest big city, Greenville, hoping to get a guidebook for Looking Glass. More confusion with visitors centers, but we finally got one. Had a lovely stroll around Reedy River Falls park, in the middle of town. They have a lovely cascade, right downtown, and a pretty set of gardens all adorned with a curved suspension pedestrian bridge. Pretty neat, and a lovely looking town too. It was nice to be back into hills and pretty landscapes.
Headed out to Looking Glass under greying skies. Beautiful climbing weather. Gorgeous walk up to the crag, through a classic scene of late fall. Red, orange, yellow and purple leaves covering the entire ground, with spindly trees and the last of their leaves waving in the breeze.
We chose a route called "The Nose" 5.8, a 4 pitch classic, giving visiting climbers a chance to sample Looking Glass's "eyebrows" These truly are something out of the ordinary, and are quite interesting to climb on. I headed up the first pitch, feeling quite out of climbing shape, and finally reached the belay. Fun, enjoyable climbing, that you'd defintely get a feel for over time, but for me it was definitely heads up climbing, despite only carrying a 5.5 rating.
Looked at the topo, then the start of the next pitch, then the topo again, then Katie, then the topo again, then the climb again, and decided that I was chicken shit. Made excuses along the line of "It's lovely just to be doing any climbing." and palming blame to Katie for not being able to lead, and blaming the fact that the route traversed, so I wouldn't be able to just lower off or anything. Basically I just chickened out. It had a hard looking couple of moves off the belay with no gear, dropping you back onto the belay ledge. Allegedly it's straight forward, but so be it :)
Still some lovely looking climbing, and I'd really love to have been able to spend a couple of days here, but Katie had to be on a flight out of Nashville in two days, and we had to get there yet, with the Great Smokey Mountains between here and there. Can you guess where the next set of photos are from?
Living the high life in South Carolina
Curved suspension bridge
Lovely cascades, right in town
Katie walking up through the last of autumn
Eyebrows on Looking Glass
Wandering, sparse protection
Katie climbing up p1 of The Nose (5.5)