Lately every weekend has found the FNO crew biking on what is considered what is some of the best single track on the east coast. That said, it is still relatively tame to most videos we watch, and it pales in comparison to this video. This video was shot our direction just recently and it features mountain biking where it doesn't belong- In the Dolomites on a fixed lined climbing trail. This is known as "Via ferrata" in the Alps and it translates to "Iron Road" in Italian. The climb requires fixed lines to tie into given the danger of the sheer cliffs adjacent to the trail. If it requires fixed lines for climbers, it only makes sense to take a mountain bike on the same trail and give it a whirl. Well that's just what we found. Enjoy Via Ferrata.
Is climbing in the Himalayas on your bucket list? The notion of hiking around in the world's tallest mountains is a romantic concept. Many aspire to make the venture and some are lucky enough to actually do so. But have you ever wanted to mountain bike across the Himalayas? I am hearing my quadriceps scream just thinking about it. Well these guys are all for it. While this is not our typical Thrill Thursday video, it is breathtaking in another way.
The Tour of the Dragon is a 268km (166.5 mile) bike ride that ascends and then descends the Himalayas, and these extreme athletes attempt to complete it in just one day. It takes place in the Kingdom of Bhutan, and this supposedly secret race known only amongst the world's best athletes is being documented for the first time. We guarantee it would get your heart rate pumping so check out this week's Thrill Thursday: Tour of the Dragon.
Father Nature Outdoors
Because Mother Nature can be a pain
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"The Odds Were Questionably in Our Favor"
FNO Takes you to the state of: North Carolina
Where are you (park, forest, etc.)- Dupont State Forest
Nearest town (s)- Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC
How long is this hike- Day trek
Miles- 6 miles round trip
On your toughness scale (1 easiest, 10 toughest)- 3. I'm no macho hiker but this hike is easy for anybody with a little bit of time and a day to just relax. Mostly wide trails and relatively little incline.
Tell us about it- Since I've moved to Greenville, SC I've done a number of hikes north of here, but nothing north of the border yet (into NC). With the ladyfriend coming in town I figured it seemed like the perfect excuse for a little adventure.
Shortly after I moved here I realized mountain-biking was the sport of choice north of Greenville and south of Asheville. They told me it all centered around one area, Dupont State Forest. After doing a little research into the area I learned there was a lot more going on than just mountain-biking. The 10000+ acres of Dupont State forest has not only caught the eye of locals in the recent years, but Hollywood as well. A number of films have been shot inside the films border, but two blockbuster hits stand out. The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger games each shot the majority of their scenes around these parts.
While I would feel much better saying it was the classic James Fenimore Cooper novel/movie that caught my attention, it was more the Jennifer Lawrence flick. Regardless I felt it was necessary to scout out my next MTB adventure so I decided this was the ideal time to take the girlfriend on a nice little Hollywood hike while at it.
Unfortunately it turns out many people have the same idea. If you do this hike, go early. Luckily I got this advice and I managed to snag probably the last parking spot at Hooker Falls Parking Area at around 11am. It is about a 45 minute drive from Greenville. Anyway we departed from the trailhead and made our way to Triple Falls. This is truly an impressive waterfall. I could refer to this as the waterfall in the background of the scene where Peeta Cake-Paints his face, but I think the waterfall deserves a little more recognition. This is the waterfall probably 80% of the parks visitors go to see.
From the picture above I would call this "Double Falls", but I am actually standing near the crest of the final waterfall. After departing from this fall the crowds started to thin. After a little upward climbing and another .5 miles or so we stumbled upon High Falls. This is a cool 100' waterfall that is crowned with a covered bridge.
Funny enough this is where about 95% of the crowd stops. I was thankful for this though because only another 2 miles further came probably the most unique fall in Dupont State Forest. The final waterfall on our back-and-out hike is called Bridal Veil Falls. So what makes the waterfall so unique? Well if you haven't guessed it by the name, you can hike behind the waterfall and watch the water smoothly cascade onto the rounded rocks below.
Beyond that, at the base of the waterfall you can hike out onto outcroppings that stand just inches above the rushing water. The water rushes beneath the outcroppings on its way down to the other falls. You can also see this waterfall in some movie that seems to have a famished title.
After sitting on the outcropping munchin' on some trail mix and watching water disappear beneath us, we decided it was time to make the trek back. It was a relatively quiet hike back and we returned to our car where the parking lot had expanded into cars parking on the street for a half mile in either direction. Happy with our fortune we headed back and topped the day off with some southern cooking.
See any wildlife? None to speak of besides horses, which were domesticated so no. You may be able to count the bike riding shirtless local- there was enough hair to question the claim of domestication or not.
Would you recommend? I would definitely recommend. Beyond a little bit of distance it is a simple hike with some cool views. Considering the low grade in the terrain (at least around this trail) I was surprised to see as many features as I did. It's a good hike for almost any skill level.
Trail Tuesdays is a new weekly segment of Father Nature Outdoors. We realized that we have friends and colleagues all across the country so why not take advantage of their knowledge, and hear some fun stories in the process. If you would like to contribute to Trail Tuesdays yourself just go to the “Contact Us” page and let us know. In return we will reward you with a free FNO microfiber headband. We get to hear some awesome stories and in return we’re rewarding you just to go get some fresh air! That’s a win-win in our book.
Every year Outside Magazine puts out a list of the best towns in the USA for the outdoor enthusiast. This year Outside Magazine limited their selections to 18 towns, big and small. Coming in at the second spot on Outside Online rankings is Greenville, South Carolina.
Lucky for us, we've been located here for nearly 9 months now. So how do we feel about that? Let's take a closer look at Greenville, SC and the surrounding area.
First of all, where is Greenville? It's located in what South Carolinians call the "Upstate", vs. the more traditionally thought of "low country".
So what's up here? We'll take a look at the town geographically-
The Town: Greenville itself is a pretty active town. The activity of choice? Biking. In the past decade Greenville converted old railroad tracks leading from downtown to a northern suburb known as Travelers Rest into a 17 mile paved trail. This trail is known as the Swamp Rabbit Trail and it is a novelty to many of Greenville's population. The trail veers from Travelers Rest right past Furman University (FU), through some early 20th century industrial areas, and ends up smack in the middle of downtown at the Falls Park on the Reedy.
If paved trails aren't your thing, then a nearby state park will probably do the trick. Just four miles from downtown is a mountain biking hub named Paris Mountain State Park. At FNO we are located about half a mile from the summit of this small peak (just short of 2000'). Despite of the mountain's size, the 15 miles of MTB trails within the park make it a favorite destination for much of the city.
(View of Falls Park on the Reedy from the Swamp Rabbit Trail)
South of Greenville: I am doing this section first because there is relatively little to say about going south of town. About 1.5 hours south and you'll end up in Columbia. With a city catchphrase of "Famously Hot" posted all over town, Columbia doesn't come as a top choice for me. Unless your looking for some open hunting land there isn't much reason to be in the area between Greenville and Columbia.
East of Greenville: This area is about as exciting as going south, minus a toasty destination at the end of the drive. Unless you're looking for a buck (of the deer nature), you don't see much recreational travels out this direction minus the four hour drive to the Atlantic Ocean.
West of Greenville: This is where things start to get fun. Within an hour drive of downtown Greenville you can end up at some good-sized lakes that border South Carolina and Georgia. Clemson University is located on one of these lakes, known as Lake Hartwell. The odd thing about these lakes.-They're all man-made. They were nearly all created at the turn of the century by the Corp of Engineers. Even more odd is that when the water gets low like it has in the recent years, you have to worry about what is beneath the lake. Nearly a century ago small towns had to be evacuated in order to make room for these lakes which means that at low water levels there is a possibility of hitting of 19th century development. (Divers Find Hotel Under Lake Jocassee) That weirds me out a bit. Regardless these lakes make awesome recreation for boating, fishing, and hiking.
North of Greenville: To me this is the most exciting direction to go. Within about 30 minutes you can end up at three state parks that border the North Carolina line. Jones Gap State Park, Caesars Head State Park, and Table Rock State Park are all easily accessible from Greenville. These parks mark the beginning of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I have been to each of these parks a handful of times and they each offer something different given your tastes. Jones Gap is known for its great trout fishing and its waterfalls. Caesars Head is known for its great views and proximity to Raven Cliff Falls which is the tallest waterfall in the state. Table Rock is known for its challenging hiking and awesome, but sometimes deadly, rock outcroppings.
That list just includes the areas within the state line. Travel only 15 minutes further and you can be nearby Dupont State Forest and Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. Dupont State forest is famous for its inclusion in the making of the Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans. More importantly it is a hotspot for the MTB community. Pisgah is famous for its waterfalls and for one particular natural waterslide.
So what do we think? For the Appalachians we think Greenville is an ideal entry way. While we may not have the same backyard as Asheville, which is an hour north of here, we think there is a value in the variety. Greenville might not be #2 on our list, but it would definitely be on the list.
By now I imagine most of you have seen the video of the South African cyclist who managed to be biking on a dirt trail at nearly the worst time he could've chosen. This guy happens to be booking through some South African plains at around 30mph when a fridge with antlers plows him over. Yes that is a full grown antelope.
Oddly enough this past week the internet was hit with a similar video, albeit with a North American spin. During the 2013 Monster Cross race another cyclist found himself targeted by the antelopes' North American cousin. Check out this one.
I think using the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" effectively kills any shock in the video. Regardless I can't fathom what I would do if I caught a deer in the corner of my eye lining me up for a hit.
Now what would we ever do without GoPros?
Because Mother Nature can be a pain.
What will you find here?
Here’s a few of the more entertaining segments you’ll encounter while reading the Father Nature Outdoor's blog. One, for when we stumble upon some of the coolest content on the web. Two, because we tend to enjoy alliteration. -
Media Monday- Showcasing some of the best outdoor news outlets we follow on social media. These guys and gals deliver internet gold day after day.
Trail Tuesdays- Our original blog segment that tracks itself back to our beginning. A personal look at some of the coolest local trails we’ve trekked.
Wanderlust Wednesday- Because you can never get too much exploration under your belt. These are some of the coolest places we’ve been, and want to go.
Thrill Thursday- Exhibiting the chemically-imbalanced (adrenaline) and fearless acts that push the extremes.
Father Nature Fridays- A look into the operations at Father Nature Outdoors. Where we are, and where we hope to go.