I woke up on Monday morning and treated it like any other day: I took my youngest son to his grandparents house and I went to work.
And by “work” I mean I grabbed by camera gear, filled my car up with gas and headed off looking for interesting sights and various things going on in the county.
I had intended to drive up to lakes Keowee and Jocassee to shoot a photo spread of people boating, fishing and otherwise enjoying the water for Memorial Day.
Instead, I ended up atop the highest point in South Carolina.
I had heard of Sassafras Mountain, but had never been there before. And yet, as I sat at the intersection of 178 and Hwy. 11 — ready to turn left — I found myself driving straight on and continuing up into the mountains.
The drive itself was quite pretty and as I wound around the turns I found myself wishing I was taking this road on the back of a motorcycle instead of from the inside of a 17-year-old Honda CRV.
Not to self, tell the husband we need a bike.
Note to my mother-in-law, ignore that last sentence …
I followed the signs that led me up one of the steepest roads I’ve ever driven on: My RPMs were near red-line and I began to have serious doubts if ole’ Ruby (my car) would handle it.
To be fair, I in no way blame this on the road itself. It’s paved — my car just doesn’t do great in the mountains. In the end, we made it and pulled into a gravel parking lot — that was packed.
I have no idea where all those people came from. I didn’t see another soul on the road, but apparently they all had a similar idea when it came to deciding how to spend an afternoon.
I grabbed my gear and headed over to a small path that leads to the lookout to set up my tripod.
Guys, if you’ve never been to Sassafras Mountain, you need to go. The view was absolutely incredible. Best part? You don’t have to be an experienced hiker or climber to enjoy it.
Don’t get me wrong, I took a selfie up there just like everyone else and captioned it that I had “climbed” Sassafras. And I’m sure some people out there assumed “climbing the mountain” involved ropes, a pick axe, spiky shoes and chalked up hands.
After all, we’ve all seen the movie Cliffhanger.
But the truth is … I walked about 50 yards from my car — up a gravel road — to the summit. While drinking a Diet Pepsi. And smoking a cigarette. (Shut up.)
That’s it. The most strenuous part of the “climb” was actually ducking under a big yellow pole that blocks the access road to the weather tower — I’ve never been very good at Limbo.
I spent a good couple of hours up there shooting, chatting with other visitors and marveling at the views before heading down that ridiculously steep road and heading back to the office in Easley — at which point I realized the office was closed for Memorial Day.
Apparently, I had the day off and didn’t realize it.
Good thing I didn’t waste it.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.