“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
- Mae West
Fall in the South is amazing, but is definitely playing with my head. I'm used to crisp mornings that continue into crisp but sunny days, the sound of leaves crunching under foot, the smell of pumpkin and an overall sense of urgency to get out and enjoy life before you are shut in for the winter. Down here the mornings are still in the upper 60s and the days in the mid 80s. Things are still green and humid and everyone is acting like it is just another summer day. The fall decorations being put out seem out of place. The only hint of fall thus far is a subtle change to the wildflowers - instead of whites and pinks and purples they are now yellow and gold and orange. I'm still wearing short sleeved shirts and capris when up north I'd be breaking out my hoodies and pants. I have been told that the leaves are beautiful when they start to turn, but I am just not certain when that happens. Until then I will keep enjoying my late summer days.
The in-laws came to visit this weekend from up north and we were happy to have them. We had infrequent visiting when living in the arctic north. Apparently there just wasn't much incentive to go up there. Since the move, we have been fortunate to have many visitors down here and are loving it. Unfortunately, W picked this weekend to develop a healthy dose of stranger danger. It was decided that some alone time with his grandparents would be good for all involved and so the hubs and I found ourselves with an afternoon alone. What did we do with it? Hit the trails! We loaded up a confused looking Gem and Pete (it was late morning by then and we never trailer that late) and headed to a trail system I found online. I remembered my GPS watch, but not my camera and so unfortunately there are no pictures.
It was about 15 minutes farther away than the Butch Kennedy trails we rode last time and we were cautiously optimistic that they would be of better quality. The directions were laughable - "turn sharp left between the country convenience store and church" - and we were surprised to make it without getting lost. The parking lot was a small strip of gravel with no exit and we were really worried about making it both in and back out. There were several mountain bikers there, a horse trailer and some hikers. We managed to pull in just off the road, but that put Gemmie into the entrance and I was really concerned someone would pull in and hit her (luckily that did not happen).
We unloaded the horses and then went to take a quick look at the trail map which ended up being a great idea although not for the purpose of gleaning useful information from the map itself. It showed various loops and said the entire thing was 11.3 miles, but it wasn't super user friendly since it didn't show where any trail heads were or mention anything about trail markings. But...as we were standing there talking about it a woman finishing up a hike came over and informed us and a hiking couple beside us to be on the look out for a bear she came across off on the trails to the left. That completely freaked out the hikers to the point where the woman refused to go and her poor husband had to try to convince her she wouldn't be mauled by a bear. It just peaked our interest even more. As we spoke with her, it turned out that she was an avid rider herself and knew the trails well so she talked at me (since none of it made sense and I stopped paying attention after the words "bear" and "to the left") and then talked with the hubs who was paying attention. In true SC fashion, she then gave us her business card and home number and said to call her with any horse questions or to learn more about the local trails. I still haven't gotten used to how friendly everyone is around here.
We turned away from the map and headed back to our calm and well behaved been there done that horses only to find that they had been replaced with fire breathing dragons......