By Stacy Thompson
If you’ve read my earlier posts, you know that I enjoy a good hike and, even better, a good challenge. Although I’ve always loved the outdoors, hiking only recently became a favorite pastime, as I decided to follow in the footsteps of a pretty incredible mother (mine) who felt the pull of the peak. Since her first climb six years ago, we’ve been on some incredible journeys together – but in finding joy in our journey, we have to prepare and prepare hard. In truth, the hikes are amazing, but our prep time together is the greatest gift that leads to our ultimate goal.
So how do two land-locked, Lexington County natives living at 292 feet prepare for Machu Picchu (7,972 feet), base camp of Mt. Everest/Kala Patthar (18,514 feet) and Kilimanjaro (19,431 feet)??? One foot in front of the other, in stairwells, steps and trails anywhere and everywhere we can find them! Maybe our fellow hikers with the benefit of high altitudes in the vicinity have an advantage, but we make the most of what we have available to us, and to date we have met every challenge.
Here are a few of our favorite spots to train and enjoy the outdoors in the Midlands (leaving out the parking garage, of course!)—
- Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park – still a work in progress and still recovering from the Great Flood – the flattest path you’ll find and a great place to train for a 5k, 10k or ½ marathon – particularly nice on cooler days, as most of the paths are sun-filled!
- Sesquicentennial State Park – probably better for the bikers, but these trails are accessible and have campsites available for overnights, if that’s your thing
- Congaree National Park – I’ve only explored the shorter trails and the area by kayak, but plan to venture further into the area to see what this National Park has to offer
- Cayce Riverwalk – accessible from the amphitheater off Gervais or the lot off Naples in the Avenues of Cayce – one of the easier boardwalks and trails for bikers, runners, hikers and dog-walkers – this trail is continuing to improve/expand and cannot be missed – and speaking of ‘don’t miss,’ be sure to check out the chainsaw artistry of Wade Geddings while you take in the beauty of the Congaree
- Timmerman Trail – venture down the 12th Street Extension in Cayce toward SCANA to find this gem of a trail – eventually downtown Soda City will meet River Rat as the Timmerman Trail / Cayce Riverwalk will join with the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park for miles and miles of enjoyment – until then, Timmerman Trail does not disappoint!
- Harbison State Park – we’ve been hiking the park for a couple of years now, but still manage to find new areas, new parts to get (semi) lost in, and new trails that have us marveling that we are still within the county limits! Trails for bikes, hikes and pups – what could be better (nothing, based on the look on my boy Lincoln’s face!) There are trails for newbies, those wanting a little challenge and those looking to take it to the next level!