I rode by the State House and took a few minutes to reflect on the past, and remember that people everywhere are the same, and we are all looking for answers. We should work together toward that end.
And then it was time to grind some more pavement. The route up 215 was again a battle with logging and gravel trucks but we worked surprisingly well together. They gave me a wide berth when they passed and when there was oncoming traffic, I pulled off onto the grassy shoulder so that they would not have to slow down. I gave them a friendly wave as they went by, hoping that news of a friendly gesture would be passed on to the other truck drivers.
25 miles to the Peaks to Prosperity Passage:
After years of working through the railbanking process, Palmetto Conservation purchased an 11-mile, 200 ft. wide right-of-way from Norfolk Southern Railroad. The rail trail begins on the banks of the Broad River at Alston in Fairfield County and continues west into Newberry County, through piedmont forest, into the towns of Peak and Pomaria, and over 14 wooden trestles that cross Crims Creek.
The first 6.5 miles were opened in 2009 after two volunteers, Charles Weber and Furman Miller, cleared and decked eight trestles. A grant from SC PRT allowed us to deck and add handrails to the 1100 ft. long bridge over the Broad River. The view is spectacular, especially when the bald eagles soar overhead. A PARD grant through Fairfield County provided funds to develop a beautiful park/trailhead at Alston that provides parking, picnicking, canoe access, and camping.
Probably one of my favorite sections of the entire state. One of the only sections that I felt that I could camp safely. Unfortunately, I got here late morning and had plenty of daylight left. This section was a very green and lush rails to trails conversion with lots of trestles. It was cool and I plan to take the wife and kid there someday.
Arriving in Pomaria, I was pleased to find a gas station that sold hot dogs, Gatorade and Coke. I sat down for a quick meal before heading up the pavement to Newberry. I got mixed reports from the locals of how much pavement, but decided that it was between 10-20 miles... a huge difference. Nothing to do but start pedaling, so off I went again.
The hills were still there, but not as big as the ones surrounding Columbia, and the traffic was not as bad either. Around 3pm, I arrived in Newberry and was very tempted by the Holiday Inn Express, but I stayed the course and kept on through town. A quick stop to purchase a 560 cal honey bun for breakfast the next morning and I was rolling again.
Up next was the Enoree Passage:
Twenty-two new miles in combination with the Sumter Passage now creates a continuous thirty-six mile trail through Sumter National Forest, linking Newberry, Laurens and Union counties. Enoree Passage is the name for the combined trail; Sumter will no longer be used.
Beginning at Forest Service Road 379, the trail winds 4 miles through pine ridges and hardwood bottomlands, crosses 2 major creeks, Gilders and Indian, and ties into the Buncombe Horse Trail. From this point to Brick House Campground and the Buncombe Trailhead, trail users will be sharing the Buncombe Trail with equestrian users.
Heading north, the trail meanders through some of the most diverse habitats located on the Enoree Ranger District including a beaver pond, many diverse hardwood drains, and the Enoree River corridor. An 80-foot bridge spanning the Enoree provides a superb view of the river. Three fishing lakes - Macedonia, Sedalia, and John’s Creek Lakes lead to the northern trailhead at Sedalia Campground.
The trailhead was easy to find and about 4 miles outside of Newberry. I was excited to get into the woods again but a little wary when I found several trees down right at the trailhead. The trail was pretty clear for the first 4 miles and mostly free of trees until the Brickhouse rec area, but after 4 miles the trail became a multi use trail used by horses. I'm not against horses, but when the walk on even moist trails, the trail gets destroyed and riding a bike becomes almost impossible. I dragged myself through the next 10 miles of what used to be nice bench cut single track, which I could have completed in 1 hr, but instead it took me about 2 hrs to get to the campground.
I was a little frustrated and very tired when I rolled into camp. I was expecting water, but there was none. A couple of the people camping at the Brickhouse Rec area, donated some water, for which I was thankful.
That night some powerful thunderstorms rolled in around bed-time and I ended up spending about 30 minutes in the outhouses, which were super clean and did not smell bad at all. I was glad about that. After the first storm passed, I had to re-pitch my tarp because a puddle had formed under it. As I crawled in, it started raining and rained off and on the rest of the night.
Next: Day 5- Brickhouse Rec Area to Spartanburg, SC