I’m sure I’ve posted a previous jaunt to 40 Acre Rock on here before. If I haven’t, or if you don’t want to search for it, a little background:
40 Acre Rock is an exposed piece of granite rock in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. It is part of a Heritage Preserve, and as such the only improvements are a hiking trail. No bathrooms, meeting houses, etc., and no building on the property. There are only 15 acres of actual exposed rock, so I’m not sure where the 40 acre designation came from.
Any way, my daughter missed my previous trip, and wanted to see the rock. Unfortunately it has been really hot the last couple of days, so we decided to get up early and try and beat the heat. I drove to the upper parking area (basically the wide cul-de-sac end of a paved road) and we got out.
It turns out that both of us are made from the type of stuff deer flies love to snack on. Even the 40% DEET spray I used wasn’t keeping them from buzzing around our heads. I have some 100% DEET around, but didn’t put it on. It’s supposed to be okay for you, but it hurts synthetic clothing, so I avoid it if possible. We never got bit, but the constant droning of things orbiting our heads got annoying.
There is a 1/4 mile walk from the parking area down an old dirt road to the rock itself. The road has been closed for years, and mounds of gravel were dumped at the entrance to keep teens and other ne’er-do-wells from driving around the broken gate to the rock. Unfortunately it doesn’t keep the jerks from walking down there with spray paint. I’d like to find a vandal in action and sneak up quietly behind him, but that’s another story.
Since deer flies evidently have a limited range, we would pick up a new one every hundred yards or so. We saw a lot of lizards and frogs, but no snakes. I think the snakes wisely stayed in their burrows and under logs. It was already humid, even at 9:30 in the morning.
After several minutes walking, we made it out to the rock face and examined the evidence that some people are stupid (see their markings behind her?). Kaylee made the shirt she is wearing, by the way. I think her mom helped some.
What you don’t see is me carrying all of our stuff. I brought some essentials in my camera backpack. 3 liters of water with ice cubes in my Camelbak water bag, a first aid kit including drugs and stuff for stings, scrapes and cuts, and my “hygiene bag” which contains alcohol hand glop, toilet paper, and the essential orange emergency trowel. I guess they make them orange so when you are digging in your pack, you want to find the damn thing before you ‘brown blaze’ your shorts. Thankfully it was all extra weight. Despite some touch and go moments, neither of us needed bandaging or troweling.
Hidden against the wood line on the northeast corner of the rock is the waterfall trail. It’s sort of on a slope and if you don’t know where it is, it’s easy to miss. We followed it down and around to the waterfall. There is no real trail at this point, because tree falls and washouts have eliminated various sections, so there are about ten trails down to the waterfall area. There was no water today, only a “fall” as Kaylee put it. It hasn’t rained a lot over the past few weeks. I found some evidence of the problem, however. On the drive in, it seems people have damned up the streams that used to feed what was once a very nice twenty foot roaring waterfall.
We left the fall and walked through the dry stream bed and picked up the trail. After clearing the route of spider webs (it’s nice to know you are the first through an area that morning) for others, we came to my favorite rock formation in the place.
Go dig up my last 40 Acre Rock post. You’ll see that this place was full of water last time. Now its dried up and waiting on the next storm. We made it through to another fall, which always seems wet, no matter how long it’s been since the rain.
A wrong turn at the trail at the top will have you sliding to certain pain if you aren’t careful. You have to go left, not right. It looks harmless from the top, but then drops off pretty steeply. The temperature at this point was really becoming uncomfortable, so we made our way back up the hill to the exposed rock. The benefit to being exposed on the rock? No deer flies. In the “Panamanian Jungle” of the forest, the bugs are tough, but on the moonscape of the rock itself, they leave you alone.
On the way out Kaylee sported her headband, a defense against the sun, overheating, and stuff buzzing on your head. All in all it was a good day, probably a walk of a mile and a half, with a little elevation gain. I was proud of her, she didn’t complain at all, except about bugs. The heat and climb she tolerated well.
Now if I could get her to sleep in a tent and cook in the woods, I’m that much closer to having a backpacking partner. One step at a time.