November 28, 2014

A New Tradition Begins

My family is not steeped in tradition. When I was little we would all go over to my maternal grandmother's house for pretty much every holiday to celebrate with my extensive extended family, but eventually that broke apart and everyone started doing things in smaller groups or alone. Then I moved away and the hubby worked emergency so we just celebrated the holidays as close to the real date as possible.

I have always been a little envious of those people who have some tradition that their family has always done and that they teach their children to do. Maybe it is a "grass is greener" thing, but I wish we had at least something that we always did the same.

The great thing about life is that you can make it how ever you want and so Thanksgiving morning I declared that we would be starting our own tradition with Wyatt. One I hope he keeps and does with his own family some day and passes on to his children. Hey, traditions have to start somewhere.

I grabbed a dusty book off my bookshelf and turned to Dusty "There are around 100 waterfalls in fairly easy driving distance. Every Thanksgiving morning we are going to go explore a new one. There is plenty of time to hit most of them if we leave early enough and still make dinner."

He was skeptical although this is his typical response to most things. But I was determined, so I thumbed through the book and found the closest one (it was already 9 am by this time).

The winner was Isaqueena Falls in Walhalla, SC. A 100 ft drop in Sumter National Forest with a romantic history behind it. Apparently back in the day Isaqueena, an American Indian, fell in love with a white settler and ran off with him to get married. They were caught and she ran up the mountain and flung herself off the waterfall. She managed to live in a cave behind the falls for a few days until she could reunite with her husband and they moved to Alabama where they lived out their lives together.

It was a 90 minute drive up and I think I was the only one not frustrated with the drive by the end. I know the dogs and Wyatt were definitely ready to get out of the car. We winded down a steep hill and pulled into the parking lot and were happy to see we were the only ones there. The dogs jumped happily out of the car and we headed out to see the falls.

Unfortunately, the trail to the falls was all of 0.2 miles, but the falls themselves were very pretty. My cell phone didn't do it justice and I finally think I am giving up on it and going to start searching for a real camera.
Isaqueena Falls
Einstein and Bones

We wandered back up the trail and started to run into more people as they showed up. Mental note: arrive early!

I was a little bummed thinking that we just drove 90 minutes to walk 0.4 total miles and were staring down another 90 minutes with cranky dogs, baby and hubby. I found it hard to believe that this was the only hiking trail around since we were in the middle of nowhere surrounded by tree covered hills. As we neared the parking lot, Dusty found a trail off to the left and we headed over.

It started out super steep as we climbed up the hill, but then flattened out as we followed the ridgeline. It was beautiful! Even though town wasn't super far away all you could see were trees and hills and the bright blue sky. All you could hear were the sounds of your footsteps, the dogs running and Wyatt laughing. A perfect way to spend a morning.

Walking up the hill
Working our way up

The view from the top

We wandered along the ridgeline letting the dogs romp around and stopping when Wyatt found something fun to explore.

Playing with a stick
I love this little man!!!

Gotta love autumn in the fall
Eventually we came to a cross roads with a sign. It talked about the original plans to build a railroad from Charleston, SC through Knoxville, TN and onward to Cincinnati, OH. As planned there were going to be over 30 tunnels along the route, but only 2 created before funds ran out and the project was abandoned. We were about to come on the Middle Tunnel which was never fully finished, but was made large enough for a horse rider to pass through. Most of it is apparently underwater now and in 2008 they put a large metal grate across the opening. This not only kept people out, but was made specifically to help the tri colored bats that make this a winter home. It gives them a safe home. I was very hopeful that we would see some. I love bats. We didn't, but it was still very cool to find a bat cave.  We turned around at this point due to time and wandered back down the ridge and down to the parking lot. It was a fantastic morning and all 5 of us enjoyed it. I can't wait until next year to find another one!!!!

Walking up to the tunnel/bat cave

The bat cave entrance


  1. What a wonderful idea for a family tradition. Glad you could find another trail, since .2 of a mile is not very many. Looking forward to the waterfall you visit next year. And I love bats too!

  2. What a fun tradition! The couple years we went to my cousin's in NC for holidays we'd all hike, too. So fun.

    We're gating our caves, too. It's to try to protect from further spread of White-nose syndrome by things other than just bats (people).