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Time to bring this thread back up to date.

October 4th 2020. 

My middle son had bought a 4WD Xterra and was itching to try it out, so the entire family got together and spent the day wandering the Francis Marion NF. The wife and I in my Cherokee. My eldest and his kids in his Suburban. My middle son, daughter and youngest son in the Xterra.

We did a little hiking on the Palmetto Trail.

It had rained a fair amount the previous week so things were a little sloppy. The roads themselves weren't bad, but some of the unmaintained roads were a challenge. Since there were 3 vehicles I took some chances I usually don't. We managed to get everything except the Xterra stuck. 

Stopped back at the Santee River and cooked lunch. Kabobs and brats are pretty tasty when cooked in the middle of nowhere.

Picked up a couple of bags of other peoples crap. angry

And generally just had a fun day as a family. 

Get out there. 


The following weekend, my daughter and I packed up and went camping. We stayed at Givhans Ferry State Park Friday and Saturday nights at a walk in spot away from the RVs and noise. That is one of the most relaxing weekends I've had in a long time. Mostly sat around, read books and cooked food. It was outstanding!

Good Times!


Today was the start of a new adventure. If you have been following the Cherokee thread you know I'm planning several trips over the next year or so. One of those trips is the South Carolina Adventure route. 

The SCAR is a 1000 mile route that circumnavigates the state of South Carolina using back roads. About 60% of it is dirt roads. With the bumpers and winch done, it was time to get started on it. The section that runs through the Francis Marion NF is close to where I live and is mostly made up of roads I've traveled before, but rather than cheating and calling that part done I decided to run the route as published. That 130 miles was done today so I can concentrate on the rest of the route over a week this winter. 

Unfortunately the route covers a lot of the most boring parts of the Francis Marion so there aren't any cool pictures to show. I took pictures of the XJ instead. If you ever decide to run the SCAR, hit me up and I'll give you a FMNF route that is a lot nicer and has some better waypoints. 

First stop was a swamp. These are neat areas and the forest is littered with them.

The next stop was a small pond I visit on occasion. It's a good place to stretch your legs. 

The last stop was a dead end road for lunch. I had grabbed a freeze dried meal on the way out of the house rather than packing a sandwich or a cooler. 

Not an exciting trip by any means. No challenging areas, no 4WD needed. Just a cruise through the forest. With that section done, I can concentrate on the areas I've never been. 

More to come in the next month or so. Until then, get out there. 


Time to update this thread again. 

Last time out I spent the day running the Francis Marion portion of the SCAR. 

This trip I traveled another 150 miles or so on it headed northwest from where I left it last trip. Round trip was right at 300 miles and it took 10 hours. 

There was a fair amount of pavement in todays run. The following pictures were shot in the Manchester State Forest and the Liberty Hill Wildlife Management Area. 

I can't figure out how to save the map to post here so you get a picture of the screen. 


All in it was a really pretty day. Cool and sunny. 

Down here you can tell how old a road is by how high the banks are. This one has been around a while. 


There are some very pretty places to stop along the way. 


We don't get much red clay down on the coast. I'm glad I let the roads dry out an extra day. It would have been a gooey mess otherwise. 

As I got farther into the trip it still got pretty nasty is places. This stuff is slick as snot and sticks to everything. It's not going to be fun to get off the XJ.

I shot some video that I will put together over the next day or so. 

All in, a fun trip. Looking forward to the next installment. 

Toyman! MegaDork
2/5/24 10:42 a.m.

Well, that's sad. It's been three years since I posted in here. I'm still spending too much time working on things and not enough playing with them. I did finish the rest of the South Carolina Adventure Route, but I'm pretty sure I did it wrong. I was concentrating on finishing it instead of experiencing it. Not enough pictures taken. Not enough stops made. Just get to the end and mark it complete. 

This weekend, I went back and ran parts of it again with my sons and grandkids. So, 7 people ranging from 56 to 8. 

Our weekend started Friday night at Mill Creek Campground in Pineville, SC. It is an equestrian campground run by Sumpter County. It has close to 100 sites as well as stables for horses. We rolled in fairly late, threw up a couple of tents, ate brats with onions and peppers wrapped in pitas, and crashed for the night. No pictures. There really wasn't much to see. 

The next morning we were up at 6:30, ate breakfast, and loaded up. We were gone before the camp host came around to collect the $5 camping fees so we tucked it in their door and hit the road. We came out of the campground and made a right to dive into the Manchester State Forest. 28000 acres of forest set up for multiuse with horse trails, OHV trails, hiking trails, and dirt roads. 

This time I was determined to stop and smell the roses. To actually see what there is to see instead of blasting past every sign or sight. It wasn't long before we found a little sign on the side of the road for the Elizabeth Cemetary. Tucked down a fairly narrow track was this. 


The oldest stone we found was dated 1881. It looked to be hand-carved and didn't have a name. A little internet digging found this image of the same stone. You can almost make out the name on it but time has erased most of it. 

From there we headed on down the road. 

The next stop was what looked to be an old house site with a huge stone chimney. At a guess, the house had fallen or burned a long time ago. 


South Carolina is littered with little churches. This one is in the middle of the state forest and was founded back in the mid-1800s. This one has been rebuilt at some point and looks to still be in use.


The crew.


The vehicles. My son bought my XJ from me so it stayed in the family. I will say the H3T is pretty awesome off-road. 


The railroad to nowhere. 



The other thing South Carolina is littered with is old plantation houses. Some of them date back to slave times, some were burned when Sherman made his march through the state during the Civil War. Not all of the plantation houses are huge mansions like the movies depict. Many of them are just wooden farmhouses with fancy porches. 


This one was saved from burning because the Feds used it as a field hospital and headquarters instead of burning it. 


As we move north from Sumpter County, paralleling the Wateree River, into Kershaw County we come across another historical marker. This one has a dog statue beside it. Have you ever wondered where the breed Boykin Spaniel came from? Well, now you know. 




Back in a second...

Toyman! MegaDork
2/5/24 11:46 a.m.

To Continue.

From there, we stopped at the Battle of Camden National Historic Site. This was a Revolutionary War site dating from 1780. It was a fairly significant battle the Patriots lost. 


Traveling one of the many dirt roads on this trek, we rounded a corner and drove up onto what I initially thought was concrete. Further inspection showed it to be a huge rock. I thought it was concrete because we really don't have a lot of rock in South Carolina beyond a few stones. Anything car size is considered to be enormous. This was more like football field size. A measurement on Google Earth shows it to be approximately 500' long and close to 250 wide and the road went right through the middle of it. It looks like someone dropped a huge piece of granite in the middle of South Carolina just to keep the locals on their toes. I posted a picture of this on FB and a gent said this rock is know to the locals as The Bossman Rock. Interestingly enough, this isn't the only chunk of granite that got dropped in the middle of South Carolina. 20 miles northeast of this chunk of rock is the Fourty Acre Rock Heratige Preserve, which is another huge chunk of granite that covers about 12 acres. 



We stopped on a lot of bridges to look at streams. What can I say, we are from the coast, we don't have moving water beyond what the tides do. It's also a good excuse to stretch the legs. 


If you could put people in every abandoned and collapsing house in South Carolina we wouldn't have a homeless problem. 


For some reason, the SCAR has been rerouted and doesn't go through the Liberty Hill Wildlife Management Area. I'm not sure why they did that but I considered it to be one of the most scenic areas on the route so we altered our route to include it. 

More in a bit...


Toyman! MegaDork
2/5/24 12:24 p.m.


The Liberty Hill Wildlife Management area is 8000 acres of awesomeness that backs up on Lake Wateree. Outside of hunting season, it's almost empty. We pretty much had the place to ourselves. It's a pretty area with roads winding through it and several spurs that lead down to the lake. Most of the roads are clay and they can get very slick if it's been raining. Luckily we hadn't had rain in several days so they were passable if a little muddy. I wanted to go back to a spot I found the first time through the area to stop for lunch. After a few false starts and turnarounds, we found it and stopped for a late lunch. It's a pretty bluff overlooking the lake. Temps were in the low 50s so as long as you were sitting in the sun it was a beautiful day. 


The trucks might need to be washed when we get home. My biggest complaint with the Hummer so far is the amount of mud it slings up the sides of the truck. When I built the XJ I purposely kept the tires in the fenders to keep the mud under the truck. Unfortunately, Hummer didn't do that. I may have to come up with some mud flaps or build some rock sliders that block most of the mess.  


Our next camp was going to be at a hunt camp in the Sumpter National Forest about 30 miles from the lake. Unfortunately is was closed for the season and we had to reroute to Brickhouse Campground, which was even farther away. After a fairly boring couple of hours of back roads, we rolled into camp around. 

There we set up camp for night 2 and got a fire burning.


That night the low was 32 and the next morning that warm sleeping bag felt pretty good. My bladder let me sleep until almost 8am. After a lesiurly breakfast of sausage, eggs, and grits, we loaded up and hit the road about 10:30. That set the pace for the day. No rush, just a meander through the countryside. This part of the state doesn't have much significant to show. Lots of little farms. Lots of old run-down houses and the occasional small town that is slowly disappearing into the cities. The theme is abandoned storefronts and gas stations. By 2:00 it was time to hit the interstate and get home to prepare for the rest of the week. 

Have a picture dump. 


A forest service road crossing under I26 in the middle of nowhere. 


The older the road, the deeper it's cut. Particularly true in the hills. Erosion continuously cuts them deeper. This particular road must have been 8-9 feet below grade at it's deepest point.


All in it was an outstanding trip. We traveled about 400 miles and saw lots of countryside. I still didn't take enough pictures. I was fighting with Gaia on my phone and left my camera bag at home. I won't make that mistake on the next trip which is in about 4 weeks. 

More to come. Hopefully, before another 3 years have passed. 


solfly SuperDork
2/6/24 5:09 a.m.

That looks like a great trip!

solfly SuperDork
2/6/24 5:10 a.m.

Fun seeing your evolution of vehicles too. Would be funny to see the Samurai next to the Hummer!

Toyman! MegaDork
2/6/24 7:49 a.m.

In reply to solfly :

I can make that happen. I still have the Samurai. It's in a Conex box out on the farm. 


solfly SuperDork
2/6/24 9:31 a.m.
Toyman! said:

In reply to solfly :

I can make that happen. I still have the Samurai. It's in a Conex box out on the farm. 


I need to look at that for sale thread again...

OHSCrifle UberDork
2/6/24 9:46 p.m.

Great trip. Thanks for documenting!

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