“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” — Lao Tzu
I have a hard time slowing down. Sometimes I feel like I can’t relax because there’s just so much to do as a working mom of two young children. But the truth is, I don’t choose to slow down. I love being productive and, for me, the best reward is sitting down after having checked off everything on my list. Of course, that list is ever-growing, and usually by the time I sit down I’m exhausted.
I don’t try to hide that I’m not a very outdoorsy person. I often joke it’s because I was never a Girl Scout growing up. But as I’ve gotten older, even I have come to recognize how refreshing being outside can be. More often than not, I find myself craving a walk for some fresh air and a burst of energy to banish the afternoon sleepies or help my son get some energy out. Going outside can change your perspective, your attitude and just makes things better.
It’s well known that being active outdoors can be a healing experience and those who spend time in nature are generally happier. When the pandemic struck, people clung to this truth and ventured outside more than ever before. Many were delighted to discover just how wonderful South Carolina’s state parks are.
There are 47 state parks all across the Palmetto State stretching from the mountains in the Upstate to the sandy beaches of the coast. Each state park is unique, from their landscapes and history to the programs they offer. But they’re all beautiful and helmed by passionate park staff who are always ready to share their love of South Carolina’s outdoors.
A lot of people don't realize just how many waterfalls there are in the regions that make up South Carolina's Upstate, areas known as Lake Hartwell Country and the Upcountry. I had the opportunity to visit two state parks in the Upstate as part of this episode’s experience. Since I was going to be taking an early hike to Station Cove Falls, I drove up the night before and stayed in Oconee State Park. Friends, if you ever really want to get away from it all, this is the place to go. I was warned ahead of time there wouldn’t be much cell phone service, which provided me with the opportunity to experience true silence for the first time in a very long time as I drove up to my cabin. At first, it was eerie and a little nerve wracking, but once I grasped that I was literally “Out of Office,” it was also incredibly freeing.
I slept in a log cabin by the lake with a cozy fireplace and screened porch—exactly what you would picture and hope for on a trip to the mountains. Upon waking, I drove to the trailhead at Oconee Station State Historic Site, the neighboring park where my waterfall destination lay. The park rangers later told me it was actually quicker to hike than drive to the trailhead from Oconee State Park.
Located right off the road, the trailhead is very convenient to access. It’s also appealing to casual hikers as the hike is easy, yet rewarding. On my excursion, I was joined by several rangers from Oconee State Park, who shared a wealth of knowledge about the history of the area as well as the various wildlife and plants we encountered along the way. They also know the trails like the back of their hands and were able to direct us away from wasp nests and slippery rocks once we reached the falls.
Station Cove Falls. Wow! I first gazed upon the falls in the bright light of the morning with the sun sparkling off the rocks, creating dozens of rainbows in the mist. As I stood there looking up with the spray on my face, I thought, I get this. I get the waterfall hype. You can’t explain it or put into words how it makes you feel, and you definitely can’t capture it fully in a photo or even your memory. You simply get to be there in the moment and appreciate the magic.
After we hiked back, I felt so energized and at peace. I remember thinking, I wish I could start every day like this. The entire experience was a great reminder that sometimes slowing down and appreciating the nature around you is the best kind of accomplishment. And what’s even better? Realizing there are a lot more waterfalls in South Carolina to check off my list.