Nathan Gray Photography: Blog en-us Nathan Gray (Nathan Gray Photography) Fri, 04 Sep 2020 06:14:00 GMT Fri, 04 Sep 2020 06:14:00 GMT Nathan Gray Photography: Blog 105 120 Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve Trail I'm always a little hesitant to give away some lesser-known hiking spots because I enjoy a nice secluded hike. However I want people to experience all nature has to offer. So here's a moderate hike that's fairly accessible. 

Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve Trail

The Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve Trail is a spur off the Foothills Trail near Sunset, South Carolina. Head north on US 178 from Pickens. A couple miles before you hit the North Carolina border, hang a left on Laurel Valley Road then an immediate right on Horse Pasture Road, which will be graveled. About a mile down this gravel road there will be a parking area on your left. There are several trails heads in this area. To access the Eastatoe trail, walk down the gravel road heading north from the parking are. After about a half-mile there will be a red gate on your left where the Foothills Trail spur will start. Follow the signs for Eastatoe trail and look for a white blaze. 

The trail is moderate in difficulty but the way back will be a little more challenging so be prepared. The almost 2-mile trail ends at the Eastatoe Creek. Follow the signs to the Narrows for a great view of the falls. For the more adventurous, keep following the trail down to the creek. It's a steep climb down but the trail is well marked. 

(Nathan Gray Photography) directions Eastatoe Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve Trail gorge hike hiking narrows nature South Carolina video waterfall Mon, 15 Oct 2018 15:35:58 GMT
Top 3 Fall Hikes For Beginners  

For some the fall season means cuddling up in a blanket with a hot cup of coffee while enjoying the cool, crisp mornings. For others it means it’s time to dust off the boots, put on a fleece and hit the trail to take in all the colors. It’s time for the crunch of dry leaves under your feet, crossing waterfalls off your list and chasing golden evening light down a country road. If you’re in the latter category, like I am, you might already know that the 47 South Carolina State Parks  are great places to explore. If you're a beginner you might not know where to start. I recently explored some new spots, and I think they’ll be perfect hikes for beginning hikers this season. Now that October is here, it won’t be long until leaves are at their peak.

Station Cove Falls Trail at Oconee Station State Historic Site- A hike with history

A couple of winding roads off scenic Highway 11 in Upstate South Carolina sits the Oconee Station State Historic site. Originally a military compound and later a trading post, Oconee Station offers both recreational opportunities and a unique look at 18th and 19th century South Carolina. After a quick stop by the park office for a history lesson, hit the Station Cove Falls trail and take in a 1.5 mile hike to Station Cove Falls. The trail is canopied by rhododendron, tall oaks and poplars. You’ll cross into the Sumter National Forest where the trail flattens and ends at the photogenic Station Cove Falls. Bring a snack and rest on one of the large rocks at the base of the falls while viewing the scenery. My dog enjoyed splashing in the pool at the bottom of the falls so if you have "Fido" along, there's spot for him to cool off and grab a drink. Trees hug the edges of the falls so when the leaves are bright red, yellow and orange you might not find a better view. If you have a small tripod that you can trek in, this would be a good waterfall to get a long exposure with some nice color. 

Lake Placid Trail at Paris Mountain State Park- So nice you’ll hike it twice

Paris Mountain State Park is a gem for the city dwellers of Greenville, like myself. Just outside of the bustling city is a quiet .7 mile hike looping around tree lined Lake Placid. Rest easy on this trail. Take your time and experience all fall has to offer. It’s perfect for a lunch break, post-work reprieve or a walk with the dog. I walked this trail during “golden-hour,” a time in the evening when the light was low and bright causing the leaves that already started to turn to burst with color. There are several benches on the banks of the lake to watch ducks paddle by and leaves blow in the breeze. The stillness of the lake causes the trees and the sky to reflect like glass, which make for great photo opportunities. The west side of the trail offered the best views for photos. There’s also a dam on the east side of the lake where water cascades over a wall. For the selfie-inclined folks, this may be your spot.

Sandhills Trail at Sesquicentennial Park- Hard to pronounce, easy to enjoy

To change it up from my usual mountain retreats I decided to head south for a different view. If you live in the Midlands or Piedmont and just can’t make it to the mountains this fall, don’t fret. Take a trip to the outskirts of Columbia, SC to Sesquicentennial Park and hop on the Sandhills Trail. Made up of towering pines and sprawling oaks, this two-mile trek loops around Sesquicentennial Lake. It feels very tucked in, which is something I look for in a trail. If you want to start your hike with a lake view, hang a right at the trail head. If you’re ready to disappear into nature, start to the left. Wildlife is frequent on this trail and it’s easy to spot turtles, lizards, fish and several types of birds. I spotted a small turtle shortly after starting this trail. A few younger hikers who were on the trail enjoyed getting a chance to see it in the wild. This will be a great spot for a family retreat. If you still have energy after the hike and want to view the park in a different way, hop in a canoe or buddy-up on a pedal boat. I had my dog with me, and she’s not so fond of wobbly boats, so we enjoyed the view from dry land; however, I could see how it would be a great way to see the fall colors and access parts of the park that you can’t get to on foot. 

*Travel Tip: State Park hiking trails are pet friendly! Pets must be under physical restraint or on a leash no longer than six feet.


(Nathan Gray Photography) autumn Carolina Columbia Cove fall Falls Greenville hikes hiking Historic Lake Mountain nature Oconee Paris Park Parks Placid Site South State Station top Mon, 08 Oct 2018 14:13:03 GMT
Ryan's Story cordes_385cordes_385

Germany is famous for many things. Schnitzel, beer, efficiency. And for South Carolina native Ryan Burgess, most importantly the Autobahn. The Autobahn is the federally controlled highway system in Germany that has no mandated speed limit.  After deciding to move to Germany 5 years ago, Ryan knew he would have the opportunity to do something he loves; driving fast.

“I love the freedom cars allow you to have,” said Ryan.  “I enjoy getting in things and going as fast as I possibly can. It’s an adrenaline rush. It’s just fun to race.”

Although he is not driving the newest Audi or BMW, his 2001 Volkswagen Jetta Wolfsburg Edition does not lack for speed. Ryan has upgraded his 4-cylinder engine with a 1.8 liter KO4 Turbo to allow for more pick-up while driving on the autobahn. “The turbo pulls twice the amount of air into your engine so you can go faster,” he explained.

Before moving to Germany, Ryan lived in Italy for two years and did not own a car. He was also sans vehicle while living in Heidleberg, Germany for almost two years.  Ryan admits that public transportation became a part of his life. He lived in bigger cities and it was easy to get around on buses and trains. However driving a car was always on his mind. “As soon as I got back in a car, oh my god, I realized how much I missed it,” Ryan said.

But not all cars are made equal. After going nearly 4 years without a car, a friend gave Ryan an Opal Astra “Nightmare Wagon,” as he fondly called it. “It was just an awful car,” he said. “A junker to get from A to B.”

That animosity is not shared on his current car. While it might not be the flashiest, he feels it’s what’s under the hood that counts. “I love working with the engine,” he said. Ryan hopes to continue to make modifications to increase the speed and efficiency. “Whenever I go back to the states …the first thing I want to do when I get back to Germany is get in my car and go somewhere. Driving is definitely less stressful here.”

It’s not just the speed that Ryan appreciates about German roads. “Here is so much better. Here driving is a privilege. They are very courteous and always let you over. Driving is better here because everyone enjoys doing it and they respect it,” he said.

Although he loves his 2001 Volkswagen Jetta, Ryan does have a dream car. There’s always a dream car. And his is a 1979 Shelby Cobra. “It has one of the most ingenious race car designs ever,” he said. “But ironically I hate Mustangs.

(Nathan Gray Photography) Thu, 04 Feb 2016 21:10:07 GMT