Three Rivers Greenway Trail is a paved, well-kept walkway along the southern bank of the Congaree River on the outskirts of Columbia, SC. On the eve of the 2017 Christmas holiday weekend, Donna and I decided to take a morning stroll there.
The trail is within a couple of miles of our home and reputed to be a scenic, easy hike. We found it to be just that, with some historical markers and placards that I found reminiscent of the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi. Overall, the weather was temperate (around 53F), though with heavy chem-trailing, and with plenty of sunshine (though glarey, as always, through the chem-trail haze). The trail is an out-and-back about 4.7 miles long. We decided to make about a 3 miler out of it by turning back at about 1.5 miles.
The main trailhead is right beside the Gervais Street Bridge and the site includes an amphitheater, where events are sometimes held, and a replica of the trading post buildings that dotted the river banks in the nineteenth century. It’s a neat little area and makes for a pleasant start of a hike.
It is an easy hike, being pavement or boardwalk for the entire length. There are plenty of resting spots with benches and tables. Several are on river overlooks, so contemplative lunches or picnics are possibilities. It seems to be a popular dog-walking trail and is, considering, kept clean.
It’s been a while since we’ve taken a good hike, though this wasn’t a wilderness trail, for sure. It did remind me of what’s enjoyable and restorative about hiking. There’s the physical challenge of just testing your fitness against the hardships of the trail. This trail offered few hardships—potentially only the length, but not even that for this trip. Normally, though, the rigors of a hike through woods over rough terrain with significant elevation changes will confirm that you still live. Moving through the outdoors, unmitigated by electronics, is almost a revolutionary act these days. Communing with the natural world, cooperating rather than conquering Nature, is a human necessity. It is for me and I have to do it, from time-to-time.
It seems few cooperate with Nature anymore. Indeed, it seems few are even aware of Her. We passed a couple of young people on the trail who were totally absorbed in their smart-phones. Even older walkers seemed so distracted with conversation, or their dogs, that they never looked up, or even looked around themselves. At least they gave that impression. Just do the walk; follow the pavement and go. Git ‘er done.
Understandable, I guess. There’s much risk in looking up. On this morning, you would have seen the toxic, deliberate, criss-crossing trails left by airplanes. You would have seen those trails’ expansion into the haze that refracts the sunlight into the glare that denies us the deep blue that Gaia used to provide as an inspiration to humanity.
Note this picture that I took during the hike. There’s not a cloud in the obscured sky. It’s all haze and trails laid down by deliberately spraying aircraft:
If you consider this, and if you genuinely watch the skies every day, you will see that something is horribly wrong. And for those who anticipate a “white Christmas” to be delivered by “Winter Storm Dylan,” I recommend this video.
We didn’t quite make 3 miles on this hike because the trail was closed for maintenance at about 1.3 miles out. Close enough. We achieved our ends because hiking is restorative, like a good sleep. I think the hike we made today is a good start to a long Christmas weekend (in huge spite of the chem-trailing). To hike a trail and return with the renewal of spirit that you know is a reprieve from the long drudgery of your day-to-day since the last hike, is a picture of Christmas renewal.
Christians celebrate renewal at Christmastime—a renewed covenant from God that is their salvation. Even more historically, people see the end of the year’s solstice as marking a turn, even in the dead of cold winter, that will lead to new births, new flowerings, new warmth, in the spring. It’s all life’s promise that, though we go through cycles, we go on.
I’ll hold onto that promise and enjoy the holidays nestled in the love of my family. I hope that you will do the same.