Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Paris Mountain State Park, South Carolina. Part IV Scenes From Around the Park.

Click here for the first post in this series.

park welcome sign It’s been hot this week here in South Carolina. Even at higher elevations. Most of Paris Mountain State Park is at around 1,000 feet, according to my GPS. With peaks rising to nearly 2,000 feet.

sign To avoid the heat I’ve restricted walking in the Park to mornings. From just before daybreak to lunchtime. And fortunately, a lot of the Park’s beauty can be enjoyed while sitting in a car. The road we traveled in the last post, for example. That’s good news for folks who enjoy being out in nature but who have physical mobility problems. At Paris Mountain there’s something for most everyone to enjoy.

bath house 01 I couldn’t resist an early-morning visit to the renovated stone bath house yesterday. What a scene. I arrived just a few minutes before dawn. Not a soul around. And just a few dim lights.

stone wall 1 These stacked stone walls have a different look before daylight. One worth seeing, I think. You may not be impressed with the accomplishments of the CCC crews who built this Park if you’ve never tried to work with stone. If so, punch “stacked stone” into a Google search engine and see what folks who have tried to build this way have to say about it.

I still don’t understand how untrained young CCC crew members could manage this. Even under skilled supervision. Certainly there was enough stone around. But that’s only the beginning.

lower steps Here’s an early-morning view of the stone steps leading up from the lake to the bath house. This is the left-hand side of a double set of steps.

garden signNotice the small garden set between the two flights of steps. These are native South Carolina plants especially selected for this spot. Donated, as the plaque notes, by the Park’s Friends Group and the Mountainside Garden Club.

steps wall Here’s another view taken a little later that I can’t resist including. This bath house renovation really is a great project. I recommend a visit in the early morning before the swim crowd arrives.

swim sign Speaking of swimming, here’s where it’s done at Paris Mountain. Click on the photo of the wayside interpretive sign above to take a closer look.

swim area Note the chairs for the lifeguards. Note the near-shore roped-off shallow wading area. And the active diving platform toward the middle of this small lake. All carefully controlled and monitored. And don’t miss the colorful canoes and kayaks ready for rental toward the right of the picture. The rental fees include life jackets for everyone and paddles. A great way to spend an afternoon, or to try out paddle sports if you’ve yet to take the plunge. Oops. Rephrase that ….

In fact, if you really are considering purchase of a canoe or kayak, nearby Sunrift Adventures sponsors boat demonstrations here on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings of the month. This is the ideal place to take your initial paddle. Check Sunrift’s website for details by clicking here. And here’s a short video of one of their demo events I took later on

Of course, there’s much more to this Park than the stone bath house and lake swimming area.

picnic area Here’s an early-morning view of the big picnic area near the bath house and swimming area. Look at that magnificent tree. And all of those picnic tables. With plenty of room for multiple groups to spread out and have a good time. The lake is just down over the bank to the left. The Park’s enormous ball field and playground is up the hill near one of the parking lots. Now, this is my idea of a real “Theme Park.” 

down oak 01 Later in the morning, on the far side of this picnic area, I came across Don and Eric from the Park maintenance staff struggling with a downed white oak. Sawing, splitting, and chopping it into chunks small enough to handle. The wood, they said, would be provided to campers free of charge for their campfires!

down oak 02 This white oak must have been a grand sight before it blew down several years ago. Look here at a cross-section of the trunk. Even after several years down it retains a little life-giving water toward the very center.

down oak 03 The wood of white oak is dense, heavy, hard, and difficult to split. Note the iron wedge at the center of this piece. It wasn’t driven in easily. Watch below as Don and Eric work.

bridgeWalk over across this beautiful CCC-built bridge to Picnic Shelter Number One here at Paris Mountain. Note the stacked stone pillars that support this bridge. Remarkable.

shelter 01 One reader recently commented that she’d surely scream should she have to see another CCC-built structure here. Well, scream away. I couldn’t resist this one. Picnic Shelter Number One at Paris Mountain. With its own dedicated parking lot.

shelter 02 It’s been beautifully preserved and maintained. From its stacked stone foundation to the wood work in its roof. It’s not especially large, as these picnic shelters go. But about the most appealing I’ve seen so far.

shelter 03 Here’s a view looking in from the steps toward the stone fireplace. The electrical fixtures have been modernized, but that’s about all. Be sure to stop to look through this building when you visit the Park.

privy Oh, and just a few steps away is the first stone privy I’ve seen. The inside fixtures have been fully renovated. But it looks from the outside pretty much as it would have looked in the late 1930s when the CCC crew completed their work.

privy wall Well …. The stacked stone walls may have a bit more character now than before. What a sight!

There’s much, much more to see here at Paris Mountain State Park. But we’re out of time today. Stay tuned, though. We have a trail walk and two interesting interviews coming up. One with Jason Daly, the current president of the Park’s Friends Organization, and the other with Paris Mountain’s Interpretive Ranger, Cathy Taylor.

Click here for the next post in this series.

Click here to return to the CarolinaConsidered Project website.

1 comment:

  1. Well Bob I really appreciate seeing the structures, paths and opportunities for healthy physical exercise that you provide with your blog. Thank you, OFM