I can't remember how I stumbled on the Palmetto Trail in South Carolina, but I did. Somehow it found me, and things worked out from there. I can't explain it, and won't attempt to, it kind of makes sense to me, and the mysteriousness surrounding it, is good enough.
So, I spent quite a bit of time researching, googling, printing and studying maps, etc. Doing everything that I could to be ready when the right time came for me to go. And the suddenly, it appeared as if the window was opening. The preparations continued. I packed and repacked. The week before I went, Rhonda helped me sew a new lightweight sleeping which I posted about earlier, and the day before I left, Liberty Bicycles got a shipment of the new Salsa/Revelate Frame Bags, one of which fit my bikepacking bike perfectly.... I made the purchase, swapped out my Tangle Bag, and repacked. It was great to have the little bit of extra room.
Friday morning rolled around and I got the wife and kid off to school, then rolled out to Park Ridge Hospital to meet my ride. Haley and Jamie were kind enough to offer me a ride, since they were headed to Charleston. On the way down, we passed a huge wild fire and the reality of the danger for me riding the trail with wild fire threats became more real.
We rolled into Charelston to be greeted by police officers at every intersection, directing traffic. It was the annual Bridge Run weekend and the city was expecting 40,000 runners. I was tempted to stick around to see the crowd, but decided not to.
They dropped me off and I made my way through the city, over the bridge and out to my campsite for the night. I stopped by the Trek Concept Store to say hey to Ben Gruber.
The site was on private property and I had made previous arrangements to get permission to camp there. When I got there I introduced myself to one of the housemates and then went to eat at Sewee Restaurant. It was a cool little seafood shack and under other circumstances, I think I would have enjoyed my meal, but I was excited and my stomach was doing flips, so I only ate about half of my shrimp.... it was hard to leave them on the plate. I got back to the campsite, and set up my tarp by the time the sun went down. Then I laid down to get some shuteye. I finally fell asleep only to be awakened by a bright light shining in my face. Apparently, N did not get the message that I was camping in his yard:
N: Who are you?
Me: I'm Stephen, who are you?
N: I'm N, the dude that lives here.
Me: Oh, talked to E on the phone and he said I could camp here, I'm on a cycle tour, and I talked to R earlier and she said that I could set up here.
N: Dude, you dropped all the right names, have a good night, enjoy yourself.
It took a little while to go back to sleep but I did. I woke up around 5am and started getting packed up, heading 100 yard up the road to the Sewee Outpost to get some coffee and a couple of biscuits. I got one for the road.
The plan was simple, ride the pavement, four lane Hwy 17 north, for 15 miles to the trailhead, then start riding the trail. I was thinking that with 13 hrs of daylight, I should be able to ride 80-100 miles for the first couple of days. The Palmetto Trail was about to teach me a lesson.
Next: Day 1 of the ride.