Table Rock State Park – or – why I’m walking funny today.

Table Rock is one of South Carolina’s most iconic images. Most anywhere you see a billboard about SC State Parks, they show you a view of Table Rock.

Borrowed this from Google….

Table Rock State Park also includes Pinnacle Mountain, which is the tallest mountain entirely in South Carolina. Sassafrass Mountain is a couple of hundred feet taller, but it is mostly in North Carolina. But still, coming from an area that is 250 feet above sea level, 3200 feet is nothing to sneeze at.

I met with our Meetup.Com group at 7a.m., which meant I got up at 5…But I’m glad we got an early start. Despite cleaning and vacuuming the car by flashlight the night before, I didn’t need it. The group was much smaller than anticipated, and four of us rode up in Mark’s car. Since this was only a day hike, I left the Blue Beast backpack at home, and took my DSLR pack, replacing the camera with hiking goodies. I don’t think I could have made it with the big pack on.

Our group – from left David, Mark, Shawnee, Mike and Ben

Unfortunately some of the group did not show, so we were left with the six of us. It turned out fine, however. The smaller group worked out great with the strenuous hike, and the bees. Plus, I knew Mike and David from the Panthertown trip, so it was fun to see some familiar faces.

The first mile or two out of the nature center followed a cascading watercourse, one long continuous falls down from the mountains. It was noisy and pretty a cool, but not very photogenic from the trail. Then we spun off from there, and headed up towards Pinnacle Mountain.

Waterfall along the trail
Nice overhanging rock… blurry because my heart was pounding here.

We Stopped to admire the overhang and little waterfall
Water dripping over the top of us
A look down at Ben, David, Mike, Me and Shawnee: photo by Mark.

Before reaching the top of Pinnacle Mountain, we took a spur trail to Mills Creek Falls. Without warning, suddenly we were getting stung by bees. The stories vary at this point. I was behind Shawnee, at the rear of the line. According to Shawnee, when the bees started after us, I started pushing her out of the way to get past her. In my defense, I was only attempting to spur her on faster, as yellow jackets can have quite a range when they get pissed off. Several of us got stung, with no major ill effects. Mark provided benadryl to all. I have some in my pack, somewhere, but since he was offering and I didn’t want to dig around, it was nice to get. What I didn’t know, was this was a spur trail, which meant one way in, one way out. We got to the waterfall at the end, and hung out for a while, hoping the bees would calm down.

Mike on the waterfall observation bridge.
Waiting on the bees to calm down, we explore the little waterfall area.
Mills creek falls

After waiting a few minutes, we hoped the bees were gone, and some of the group started off, leaving Mark and I in the back. I put my jacket on, just in case, and we hoofed it back to the group. When we passed the bee area, Mark was in front of me, and I saw some bees chase after him. We ran as fast as we could that time, and escaped injury.

I got some spare water on the way up, and put it in my pack in a sprite bottle. I didn’t think I would need it, but I was glad I got it later.

The push up to Pinnacle was harder than I thought. It kept getting steeper and steeper. Finally we came out to an overlook and sat down for lunch. I put the water purifying drops in my spare water, and pulled out my pepperoni, bagel and apple.

Pinnacle Overlook
Wider view
Shawnee scared Mark while eating lunch, sitting on the edge.

Our group eating lunch

Some raptor kept circling just off the cliff. He wouldn’t hold still though, he’s the black spot…I promise.

After lunch we had the long steep push to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, which I never thought I would complete. We saw a few more bees on the way up, but they didn’t bother us like the first ones. The top of Pinnacle is a little anti-climactic. Its a little hump at the top, surrounded by trees and bushes. There’s no view, not even a sign, but the overlook below made up for the lack of stuff at the top. After that, it was a long descent down the ridge trail towards table rock. The downhill was nice and invigorating, after the hard push uphill.