A guest post by Phil Johnsey
I thought we were going to hike to the river, I asked. Staring at an open field that was bordered by a lush forest, I didn't see any signs of a trail. Besides, the river was actually behind us on the other side of the road.
Elusive but worth it
As we walked closer to the field, along the forest border was a barely visible sign designating the trail. Ahh….this is one of those “locals only” places. Those are usually the best!
The trail ascended a few stairs and in short order we were hiking under the lush forest canopy. Under the canopy, everything was so green and very much alive. Course, with all that foliage, comes an endless wave of tantalizing scents. Some scents were rich floral, some were rugged earthy, and others were could only be described as that wonderful smell of the forest. My soul just soaked it all up like a giant sponge.
We followed this trail down into valleys, across babbling streams, back UP the valleys (what goes down must come up) as it meandered through the forest. Soon, I could see the river through the trees and watched some tubers glide by. That definitely looked like fun...
Continuing to ascend, we reached the spot I’d heard and seen pictures of many times. The river flowed out of the forest, cascaded over round boulders and created numerous waterfalls and pools. All of this set against the dark green trees and crystal blue sky was like sitting in a postcard.
Of late, hiking has been more goal oriented because of time constraints. This time we were able to hang around and enjoy the view. Walking barefoot on the dirt, wading through the crystal clear, cool water, and just laying out on the rocks soaking up the sun was the thing to do.
We weren't the only ones enjoying the river. Kayakers, in their brightly colored boats came along and like baby ducks following mom, one by one plopped down the falls. I like to kayak so I've got to learn how to do that!
The afternoon lingered on without a care, until the grey clouds began to fill the sky. We headed back out peaceful and relaxed. Soon that would change...Unexpected visitor
I was taking notes after a trail intersection when I heard a loud scream and a familiar loud ticking sound. I immediately looked up to see my friend leap backwards as she almost stepped on a rattlesnake that was on the edge of the trail. Wow, that was close!!
Fortunately, she didn't get bit, but as you can imagine, her adrenaline was overflowing at this point. We watched the snake from a distance and it watched us. Neither of us moved, but we both wanted to go safely on our way. It slowly slid off the path and we were able to safely pass.
The rest of the hike out was uneventful, but we were significantly more alert about the trail. Exiting the lush, shaded forest into the bright open area, was like leaving another world behind.
So where is this beautiful place? It’s the Green River trail located just outside of Saluda, North Carolina. Experiencing everything first hand like the rich smells of the forest, the sounds of the river bounding over boulders, and enjoying the warm sun on the rocks make this a perfect place to rejuvenate the soul.
It may be hard to find, but it is definitely worth it. Shhhh….now don’t tell anyone else.