The Upstate SC

VOL12ISS2 2016

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THE ORIGINAL RELOCATION GUIDE — UPSTATE SC | VOLUME 12 — ISSUE 2 14 UPSTATE LIVING Upstate Living BY LYNNE BRANDON It wasn't "On Golden Pond," but it sounded like it. The hauntingly beautiful sounds came from loons on the waters of Lake Jocassee. The pristine lake is surrounded by densely forested mountains with little development to spoil the view. The common loons (a variety of loon) that have settled here in large numbers (to the surprise of scientists) will soon return in November for the winter. Brooks Wade is largely credited for bringing in world class scientists to study the Loon population on the lake. "It is generally believed that Lake Jocassee has the largest population of loons in the winter of any southern reservoir, but there have been no official counts taken or records kept," said Wade who owns Lake Jocassee Tours with wife Kay. "The awareness of, and interest in loons wintering on inland reservoirs is recent, and has opened up a whole new area of scientific inquiry." Starting in 2017, renowned scientists will gather on the lake to study the health and behavior of common loons wintering in a freshwater ecosystem, which has never been done before. Along with nature watching, the lake is a favorite with those like to boat and kayak. People "put-in" at Devils Fork State Park or rent a kayak from one of the local outfitters. A guided tour of the more than a half- dozen waterfalls along the 75 miles of shoreline is best done by boat. On the bucket list to see is the stunning Laurel Fork Falls. If the water level is high enough, outfitters will take tours into the grotto behind the rocky tower for a view of the 80-foot cascade not seen anywhere else. Lake Jocassee is part of the Upstate that is known for its mountainous terrain and scenic lakes, much of it in Oconee County. (Oconee is Cherokee for "land beside the water.") The designation is deserved as the county is home to more than 150 waterfalls, four public lakes (Jocassee is one) with more than 90,000 acres of water and two rivers including the Chattooga, which is home of the iconic movie, "Deliverance." The Chattooga is the only "Nationally Designated Wild and Scenic River" that is commercially rafted. The Chattooga along with the Chauga River are fly fishing destinations stocked with brown, brook and rainbow trout by the Walhalla State Fish Hatchery. The Chattooga River Fly Shop offers fly fishing equipment, fly tying clinics, lessons and guided trips. The Jocassee Gorges and rainforest is a well known attraction and one of the most scenic and dramatic landscapes in the U.S. Annual rainfalls in the heavily forested Jocassee Gorges region can range upward of 100 inches. In the U.S., it is the only rain forest east of the Olympic peninsula in the Pacific Northwest. Jocassee Gorges was hailed by National Geographic in its special edition entitled "50 of the World's Last Great Places - Destinations of a Lifetime." The Jocassee Gorges was listed as the number four destination to visit based on "its intense concentration of waterfalls." The designation also noted that it is the only place in the world where the Oconee Bell grows. To see the rare wildflower in bloom (mid-March to early April), take a walk on the Oconee Bells Nature Trail. This flat, one-mile loop, located in Devils Fork State Park, offers the easiest access to view colonies of the flower. On land, Oconee County has more than 110,000 acres of protected and pristine forests with hundreds of miles of hiking trails covered by thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron. It's the kind of unspoiled terrain that has been the subject of books and movies in the last few years such as Bill Bryson's account of nature >> wide open green spaces, local charm, and corporate savvy

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