Experimental Forest Sign

The Clemson Experimental Forest sign along US 76.

Earlier this month, the Outdoor Leadership class I’m a part of had quite an adventure.  

Originally we were going on a canoe camping trip on Lake Tugalo for our class trip. It was supposed to be a three-day trip across a beautiful mountain lake.

However, with a forecast calling for heavy rain during our trip, our class cut it down to a single day on Saturday. When we arrived at the boathouse that morning, we decided that being out on a lake in a severe thunderstorm was... a bad idea. Trying to find a hiking trail, flooding creeks and dangerous roads lead us back to the Clemson Experimental Forest.

Setting off from the Issaqueena Trailhead, we trudged eight miles through the forest in the cold, pouring rain for four hours. And nothing could have been better. 

The verdant greens of spring pop to life with the shine of freshly fallen rain. The normally tame creeks of the Experimental Forest roar to life, with rushing waterfalls where little trickles normally flow. 

Hilltops suddenly become more exciting, with wind and rain whipping past, bringing memories of the Maine coast or summits, which are five times as high. Creek crossings became an adventure in and of themselves, with many of the intended crossings covered. 

Of course, there were challenges. The puddles and mud meant we had to watch our step and often balance along the edge of the flooded trail. The rocks were slick, and socks got wet. 

But that’s why we go. We go to be challenged, either by difficult terrain or, in this case, difficult conditions. They force us to dig deep, push through, find the grit to overcome and discover the core of who we are. 

We aren’t built to be comfortable. Our ancestors slept on rocks, wallowed through mud and shivered through the nights. Nature has created us to be remarkably adaptable and put up with tremendous stress. 

A little walk in the rain helps us to reconnect with that durable core that we all too often lose touch with in modern life. It helps to remind us that we can push through extreme adversity and that we will still be okay with a shower at the end.

We had a great trip, starting down the collarbone trail to Willow Springs and the Issaqueena Lake Road. We then went into one of my favorite parts of the forest, ducking into the remote northeast corner. After finding that the trail we were headed to had been logged out, we had to take a side of a loop back down to the road, which we took to Wildcat Creek and its shelter for a great picnic. It was a great time, and I wouldn't have traded it for the world.

Asst. News Editor

Corey Glenn is a civil engineering major at Clemson University. He has experience in site development and as a park ranger.

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