Fall Mountains Retreat

Folks that move to the lowcountry always complain that there is no true fall season here. One day it is 110-degrees, a week later all the leaves are on the ground and the highs are in the upper fifties. Truth be told I gauge fall here in Charleston by the need for some neoprene when I surf, the great trout bite, and most notably the change in the color of the marsh grass not the leaves on the trees. If my wife and I want to see fall colors we hop in the truck and head up to the South or North Carolina mountains for a long weekend. As a matter of fact we make it a point to go every year just to get away and enjoy some crisp fall air.

While attending Clemson if it was not a game weekend then I was in the Sumter National Forest for some camping, hiking, and fishing. What better way to unwind from a long week of studying and exams than camping out on the Chattooga River? My roommate and I along with a couple of other friends would take off right after class on Friday, stop by the grocery store for some food, stop at the base of the mountains for some tackle, and be on the trail by 5 pm. By dark we would have our tents set up, firewood gathered, and dinner on the grill. After dinner we would sit next to the fire, have a few beers, tell allot of lies, and relax. By 8 am the next morning we had already finished breakfast, slapped the waiters on, and were casting for trout. We would fish till lunch, grab a bite to eat, then either hit the river again or go for a hike to explore the local waterfalls. Life was good!

The mountains are no more than five hours from most of the lowcountry and offer a great retreat from the flatland. Primitive camping as well as maintained camp areas with facilities and even federally maintained cabins are scattered throughout the Sumter National Forest. Check in with the National Forest website, http://www.fs.fed.us/R8 , for locations as well as regulations on campsites and campfires.

Though I rarely get to do it these days, in my opinion there is no better way to enjoy the true moun