On New Year’s Eve afternoon, Erik Schlimmer bought packets of Pepperidge Farm Ramen, biscuits and other snacks at Eutawville IGA.
It was Schlimmer’s halfway point on the 218-mile Palmetto Trail hike from Columbia to Awendaw, and the Eutawville IGA was the perfect spot to refuel his backpack with consumables.
“It was good and the Palmetto Trail is for a certain personality and it was for me,” says Schlimmer.
“We’re exactly halfway there and I don’t see any backpackers and I don’t think I’ll meet anyone going to the beach,” he said as he pulled the snacks he had just bought from their original packaging. their heads and regroup them in more backpack-friendly bags.
The 48-year-old New Yorker now lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and uses his two weeks of Christmas break to go hiking.
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It took him two weeks to hike the 210-mile trail in Texas in 2020 and decided to hike half of the Palmetto trail during the Christmas break in 2021.
This year Schlimmer said he plans to hike the upper half of the Palmetto Trail during his two-week vacation in December.
The Palmetto Trail is a 500-mile hike across the state from Walhalla to Awendaw.
The following sections of the Palmetto Trail extend through Orangeburg County: part of the Lake Marion trail, the entire 13.9-mile Santee Trail, and more than half of the 21.3-mile Eutaw Springs Trail.
On the night of December 30, Schlimmer spent the night in a hotel in Santee.
His decision to stay at the hotel was “an ethical dilemma,” he said with a laugh.
During Schlimmer’s hikes, he often slept without a tent, sleeping in a sleeping bag and under a tarp.
“I don’t like being in buildings — whether it’s hotels, motels, or motels,” says Schlimmer of hiking.
“When I think about backpacks, it has two elements: of course you’re hiking during the day, but you’re also outdoors at night,” he said.
“It was a legitimate thing for me, because if I were to stay in a hotel, I would ‘soften’ or I didn’t plan everything correctly,” says Schlimmer.
“I was fascinated with biblical proportions,” he said.
He then texted some of his friends and told them his dilemma about staying in a hotel.
A friend asked him to send him a screenshot from his phone of the precipitation map and he sent it.
“It looks like Armageddon,” said Schlimmer.
His friend replied, “Erik, when was the last time you were at a hotel on a hiking trip?”
“In 2002,” Schlimmer replied.
His friend reassured Schlimmer that it was 19 years ago and he was about to spend a night at a hotel.
Schlimmer loves taking hot showers, lying on a real bed, washing clothes in the sink, and drying them with a hair dryer.
He had a large pizza delivered to his room for dinner.
“That pizza didn’t stand a chance,” he said. “So did all seven bowls of fruit rings this morning.”
Schlimmer, who worked as a mental health therapist for two years in Colorado Springs, became interested in regular hiking after he served for three years as a paratrooper in the Army. USA.
Over the years, he has written books about hiking and has backpacked several states.
“I would describe my job as: The stress of the field is only outweighed by its rewards. If you think about it, my job is I sit in an office – and that’s okay, I like my job – and people tell me terrible things all day. That’s all they do. And then people wonder why I spend so much time in the woods alone,” he said.
“I am very good at not bringing work home. I have been backpacking since 1985 and I love it for the serenity,” he said.
Schlimmer estimates he has walked 16,000 miles since then.
During his Palmetto Trail hike, he says it’s hardly out of the ordinary – except for nearly stepping on a jet ski curled up on the boardwalk on the Wateree Passage.
“Well, I feel lucky I didn’t step on it,” he said, “I just happened to look down and it was there.”
“It sounds cliché, but I love animals. I love creatures. If it’s a venomous snake, it’s almost as cute as any other animal out there,” he said.
The water moccasin “just sat there, minding its own business,” says Schlimmer.
The hiking veteran thanked him for the 8-foot-wide boardwalk so he was able to make a wide berth around the venomous snake, he said.
Schlimmer said it was the only snake he had seen at the time of his arrival in Eutawville.
For first-time hikers, especially for the Palmetto Trail, he recommends the “Goldilocks of hiking,” as he describes it.
“Not too short, not too long, not too hot, not too dry, not too wet – and it can be done,” he says. “It’s not that hard to find the right conditions in South Carolina.”
“Which part of the Palmetto Trail doesn’t really matter, it just needs to be a good introduction to hiking beginners,” he says.
The Palmetto Trail is a project of the Palmetto Reserve.
Schlimmer said that before starting the hike and also during that time, he contacted Palmetto Reserve staff for recommendations and advice.
“They have been very supportive and of course, really friendly. It’s been great to work with them,” he said.
Schlimmer completed the walk from Columbia to Awendaw around 4 p.m. Tuesday. It took him nine days and he averaged about 24 miles per day.
To learn more about Schlimmer, his hikes, and books, visit his website: www.thehikingveteran.com. He’s also on Instagram at @the_hiking_veteran.
For more information on the Palmetto Trail, visit: www.palmettoconservation.org
Contact the writer: email@example.com or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD