September 13, 2022
Miles – 15.6
The weather was cooler today, and I had robin egg skies! This was perfect weather for the more challenging hiking and climbing through steep hills and tributaries. Heart Break ridge was the highlight, and it did not disappoint.
It was chilly this morning as I rolled out of my little tucked-away campsite up on the ridge. This was my favorite campsite on the hike, mainly because it was dry and less used. Also, unlike many other camps along this trail, I did not find any toilet paper or trash at the site.
I made my way down to Cobb Creek half a mile further and drank a liter of water before filtering and carrying out another liter. Filtering was done at every water source on this trail due to the waste and trash I found in the campsites. If people were not cleaning up their campsites, they were probably not too careful about the water sources.
It really is a shame. This is such a beautiful trail.
There was a little light climbing where I noted my Faraway App listed cell phone coverage. It is now included with tent sites and water sources. The adventure is slowly fading.
I hiked down to Toxaway River and crossed a stellar suspension bridge over the river. The bridges on this trail are impressive, and this was another fine example, I thought as I clomped across the long bridge.
The campsites at Toxaway were well-established pads, which I think had fire grates. These were some of the best-established campsites I had seen on the trail and great if hiking with a group. Several of them had nice water views and maybe even picnic tables.
I also saw some Black Bear prints on the soft ground beside the trail. But, of course, these intelligent animals know where humans keep food, so this was no surprise.
Leaving Toxaway, I began the climb up Heartbreak Ridge. This includes about 300 steps straight up and even more steps down the other side, although not quite as steep. Based on comments in the Far Out App, a hive of very aggressive Yellow Jackets has set up a base on the trail. Fortunately, I did not appear appealing, and they left me alone. I guess I’m losing my touch since they usually love me!
I passed Rock Creek Campsite coming down from Heartbreak Ridge, which supposedly has bear cables. I did not take a look, but this usually indicates bear activity in the area. I did not see many bear boxes or cables on this trail and chose to stay either dry campsites that were lightly used or set up camp away from campsites. I did not stay at well-used campsites near the water after the first night.
I wanted to set up to hike out the next day with fewer miles, but my legs were tired. If this had been a long thru-hike, I would probably have resupplied on the fourth or fifth day and only hiked about ten miles. It usually takes me about 3-4 weeks to get my trail legs.
I had another steep climb up from Rock Creek Camp and stopped more frequently for breaks throughout the afternoon. The temperatures were perfect, and there were some nice views which, combined with tired legs, always made stopping an easy decision.
I stopped at the turn-off for Laurel Falls Boat Access, and as I studied my map, I let out a big sigh. The following six miles included a moderate climb of about 1,000 feet. This would not be a bad climb, and I laughed as I noted that at the end was a campsite where a hiker had noted enough service to watch Netflix. Maybe I could also get Uber Eats to hike me in a pizza.
It was dusk when I arrived at the campsite. Unfortunately, this site was also well-used, and I headed for the trees at the edge of the area, where I also shockingly discovered toilet paper. I wandered around the site in larger and larger circles until I found a place far enough from the TP that I could only smell the forest.
A Whippoorwill cranked up as I drifted off to sleep, and memories of my youth in the south flooded in and created the landscape for my dreams.