Welcome to the Blue Wall Weekly, your source for what's going on outside along the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment. Feel free to share your own photos, videos, and adventures along the Blue Wall, and we'll do our best to make you (locally) famous!
Half a century ago, a long, low mountain ridge overlooked the Keowee River. Then in the 1960’s came bulldozers, carving a new channel for the river’s clear waters, diverting it westward. Then came the drillers, boring into solid rock, packing dynamite, setting off explosives, reducing mountain ridge to rubble. The rubble was scrapped into piles, loaded into dump trucks, dumped into a river bed now gone dry. For perhaps millions of years this river had carried water off the slopes of ancient mountains, but now it is halted by a man-made dam backing up Lake Jocassee. Mountain ridge-turned-dam becomes sheer rock face, offering an intimate look into a cross section of Mother Earth. Half a century ago this rock was devoid of life, save those of minerals, but this past week marked the recording of three “new to South Carolina” plant species. Desert plants, they are, at the edge of a temperate rainforest. This is a place of wonder, and mystery, and new discoveries every time we slow down enough to notice.~K
This relatively short hike begins at Canebrake Access to the FT, climbs Heartbreak Ridge, and ends at Rock Creek. This 2 mile walk in the woods is beautiful, especially since the lake views are being revealed as the leaves come down. JLT will also provide the shuttle to Canebrake and pick hikers up at lovely Rock Creek, with a short tour of Lake Jocassee on the way home! This is a day you don't want to miss... join us!
It's an understatement to advertise a day on Jocassee with SC naturalist Patrick McMillan as merely 'exciting' or 'informative'. It is an unforgettable adventure. The gorges region is a biological hotspot, and Dr. McMillan is steadily discovering species never before recorded in this part of the world. Towering majestic waterfalls, incredible scenery, and of course the abundance of winter birdlife on the lake add to the wonder and mystery. We hope you'll join this Emmy Award-winning television host for a look deep into these ancient hills.
WITH JOCASSEE LAKE TOURS
EVERY SATURDAY TOUR DECEMBER 16: 12:00 - 4:00 PM Book Now!
EVERY WEDNESDAY TOUR December 20 : 12:00 - 3:00 PM Book Now!
The park contains two structures: Oconee Station, a stone blockhouse used as an outpost by the SC State Militia from about 1792 to 1799, and the William Richards House, named for the Irish immigrant who built it in 1805.
Experience some of the most dramatic waterfall and scenic locations in upstate South Carolina while also enjoying one of the mountain cabins at Oconee State Park. Our tour group will drive to, then walk or hike and explore some of the most beautiful areas in South Carolina, all the way led by a state park ranger.
Join us to traverse the Jocassee Gorges, declared by National Geographic as one of '50 of the World's Last Great Places-Destinations of a Lifetime'. The Jocassee Gorges has the greatest concentration of waterfalls in North America, and the greatest botanical diversity as well. This 6 mile hike will offer vistas of the lake only available during winter months.
Meander through Lake Conestee Nature Park, stopping at the West Bay and Bird Nest Observation decks. We will end with a lollipop loop to the East Bay Observation deck and Lost Lake Overlook back to the parking area. This is a great beginner hike.
An in-and-out hike. We will take the Palmetto Trail (Oconee Connector) toward Oconee State Park. Then, onto the Tamassee Knob Trail where we will ascend along a ridge to the top of the knob for lunch and beautiful views.
All tours of Mushroom Mountain include an introduction to fungal ecology and life cycles, laboratory tour and research overviews, and the fruiting room. Many aspects of mushrooms, including medicinal properties, cooking, and mycoremediation to soil creation will be discussed along the way!
In this ever-popular program, we’ll let nature’s beauty inspire us as we create several seasonal crafts using natural materials from the Garden and beyond. Alongside each craft, we will learn fun facts about the natural world.
These fun and informal walks will expose you to a diversity of natural and cultural resources in the CEF. Meet educator James Wilkins (and special guests!) at a pre-determined location and carpool or follow us on the trail. The Forest never disappoints!
This is a day of musical heritage that evolved when Celtic strains merged with African-American rhythms to create bluegrass and old time mountain music.
Jocassee Lake Tours
December 16: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Canebrake to Rock Creek - Hike & Lake Tour
This relatively short hike begins at Canebrake Access to the FT, climbs Heartbreak Ridge, and and ends at Rock Creek. This 2 mile walk in the woods is beautiful, especially since the lake views are being revealed as the leaves come down. JLT will also provide the shuttle to Canebrake and pick hikers up at lovely Rock Creek, with a 'short tour' of Lake Jocassee on the way home! This is a day you don't want to miss... join us.
NEVER EAST OF 11. I used to say ‘never north of 98’, when I lived on the shore side of Hwy 98, which meanders along Florida’s lonely Big Bend coast. Now Lake Jocassee owns my heart, and I never want to travel much east of Hwy 11, and really not much farther than the closest Ingles. It drives my wife Kay a bit crazy, this go-nowhere husband she ended up with. The problem is, I love any truly wild place we visit. You see the danger. Once I come upon a new wild place, Kay is faced with having to drag me away. Fortunately, Jocassee, defined as both Lake Jocassee and the Jocassee Gorges, is the most compelling, diverse, wildly beautiful place I have ever lived, so Kay is safe. I admit to loving -- to the point of never wanting to leave -- every wild place we travel to, but I am always aching to come home.~B
Lake Jocassee. Wildly beautiful, just prior to December's first snow
December 8, 2017. It was a decent snowfall!
Photo by Brenda Wiley
Wildcat Wayside Falls on Hwy. 11 (west side) as snow begins to fall.
.Snow blankets the Holly Springs intersection of Hwy. 11 (west side) and Hwy. 178.
Further up the Blue Wall, snow piled into deep drifts.
Photo by Brenda Wiley
DID YOU KNOW?
Located within the upper Savannah River Basin, the Keowee-Toxaway Project lies at the intersection of the Blue Ridge and Piedmont provinces. The Blue Ridge province is characterized by rugged plateaus, cross ridges, and broad intermountain valley floors surrounded to the east and west by large mountain chains. The Piedmont province is composed of rolling, well rounded hills, low ridges, and river-cut valleys. Bedrock in both provinces is significntly fractured from age and the natural evolution of the Appalachian Mountains. In some locations, heavy exposure to chemical and physical weathering has reduced surface layers of rock to saprolite, a form of compacted soil easily eroded by wave action.
ABOUT THE BLUE WALL
Spanning three states (North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) and encompassing 859,000 acres, the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment, known as the 'Blue Wall' by Native Americans, contains some of the highest natural diversity of rare plants and animals found anywhere in the world.