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Saturday morning fog dissolved into blue skies and warm southern air: ideal to continue an ongoing exploration of upstate South Carolina. 

The drive reminded me of home: empty winding roads, ever ascending into the foothills. Small towns appeared suddenly, then disappeared just as quickly as the trees thickened along the road. 

The journey’s end was Devils Fork State Park on the shores of Lake Jocassee, in the shadow of the Blue Ridge. I found a nice and easy two-mile loop trail covered in Oconnee bells, a rare flowering plant that grows only in southern Apppalachia. 

The trail was mostly deserted save for a kindly, wrinkled southern gentlemen clutching a smooth and weathered hiking stick. He told me to come back in about a month, when the Oconee bells would be in full bloom, blanketing the trail in soft white petals amid creeks swollen with spring rain.