May/June 2017The Crest of Carolina: A photo essayPhotos by Joey Frazier, Maria LaRocca and Cindy Thompson, Video by Danielle Kent
Standing on top of Sassafras Mountain, 3,553 feet above sea level, there is an unobstructed view of rolling ridges and forestlands that stretch as far
as the eye can see. Scenic highways, pathways and trails meander through these lands, offering a glimpse into tranquil yet bustling ecosystems that
scientists, historians and naturalists have studied and chronicled for decades.
To view full photo album, click on first photo in each series.
- Sassafras Mountain
Winding earthen trails, colossal boulders and hand-hewn bridges provide a gateway into the Jocassee Gorges where geological formations, towering
forests and plummeting waterfalls shelter countless plant and animal species - some yet to be discovered. It is this trek onto hallowed ancient
grounds that leads us, as visitors, to a greater understanding of our role to protect and manage coveted natural areas like this for perpetuity.
- Foothills Trail
The 9.7-mile section of the Foothills Trail between Sassafras Mountain and Table Rock State Park is open to hiking again following the fire
at Pinnacle Mountain during November 2016. Atop the trail's precipice, Sassafras Mountain in Pickens County, glorious hues of blue and gold
blanket the horizon.
- A View of Jumping Off Rock
(Left) This stone monument commemorates the legacy of Dr. James A. Timmerman Jr., who was SCDNR director from 1974 to 1997 and instrumental
in protecting thousands of acres of diverse habitats for conservation, including this mountain terrain dedicated on December 7, 2,000 as the
"The Jim Timmerman Natural Resources Area at Jocassee Gorges." The spectacular Lake Jocassee overlook offers a unique opportunity to see the
graceful aerial acrobatics of peregrine falcons, nesting in the nearby cliffs of Jumping Off Rock. On this blue sky day in March, a distant
fire along the skyline produced plumes of smoke that quickly drifted over ridges and waters toward our perch.
- Oconee Bell
Shortia galacifolia, also known as Oconee bell, has a limited range that does not extend far outside the shelter of South Carolina's mountain landscape, yet its adoring fans will traverse steep hills and rugged trails to photograph the cheerful flower.
- Meet the Team
Through this photo essay, our small group of SCW journalists and artists hope to transport a taste of the Upstate to those who may not venture
this way often. During our time spent capturing in picture the spirit of Jocassee Gorges, we were mesmerized by a pair of peregrines circling Lake
Jocassee's emerald waters then returning to their nest tucked away near the treacherous cliffs of Jumping Off Rock. The falcons' entrancing call
and plummeting dives crystalized the significance of SCDNR's WMA and Heritage Preserve programs. Clockwise from left, Maria LaRocca, Danielle Kent,
Greg Lucas, Joey Frazier and Cindy Thompson
- South Carolina's mountains
A wide range of forest and plant communities embrace the cold-water streams, tumbling waterfalls, sharp ridges and moss-laden rocks found in
South Carolina's mountain region. This lush habitat is ideally suited for black bears, bobcats and falcons - and is home to more salamanders
and Oconee bells than almost anywhere else in the world!