NEWBERRY — The Palmetto Trail, which includes two passages in Newberry County, will be the subject of a trail guidebook based on Scot Ward’s firsthand experience throughout the entire 425-mile length.
Ward began his adventure Nov. 8 in the Oconoee passage in the Upstate and was just in Union County.
He landed in Newberry on Wednesday where took a break to chat with the locals including The Observer. The hiker enthusiast will resume his trip Friday morning as he heads through Lynch’s Woods and the Peak-to-Prosperity passage.
Ward has traveled about 220 miles so far and he says Newberry is about the halfway point.
He’s already chatted with Mayor Foster Senn who he met at the laundromat Wednesday evening as well as the local radio station. Ward will stop to chat with anyone on the way, if only to publicize the trail and his mission.
He’s recently had Thanksgiving with the mayor of Landrum, noting one of many highlights.
He’s not that hard to notice. After all, he carries a hiker’s backpack which is not a daily observation on Main Street in Newberry.
“Hopefully, more people will come out and hike the trail,” says Ward, which is a reason he picked the South Carolina trail.
“The reason I pick these trails is because they are lesser known and I want to bring them to the forefront and get attention,” he says.
Besides wanting to get more outside hiking instead of being holed up, he also writes guidebooks about trails not very populated.
“I take on the challenges of the twists and turns faced by hikers and find resources,” Ward says, “It’s a direct manual to get you through. The descriptions are basic and it’s not a full novel. It’s a basic, direct guide (for hikers).”
Ward self-publishes the books and the book on The Palmetto Trail will hopefully be out next year.
The book on The Palmetto Trail will be his third one and are available on his website, www.thru-hiker.us.
He’s traveled and written about the Mountain to Sea trail in North Carolina and the Sheltowee Trace in Kentucky.
While the books are specifically about how to navigate the trail, he does mention businesses along the way to help people who may need a bite to eat, supplies or anything along their way.
The whole trip is all financed by Ward but he welcomes help along the way especially from churches who may offer him a place to rest.
Upon coming to South Carolina, Ward says it never really crossed his path.
“South Carolina eluded my travels. It wasn’t really in my path,” he explains.
Ward says that the Saluda Mountain passage by Jones Gap State Park was a “tough challenge” yet the views were amazing, he says.
There were many steep inclines and declines and he had to watch his step for rocky areas but definitely enjoyed the views.
However, despite the steps and climbs along the way, Ward just keeps on hiking or biking or skateboarding.
While Ward is just hiking the Palmetto Trail, he has biked and even skateboarded once along the way.
In fact, all three of those happened this year, he says.
Ward’s hiking adventures began in South Florida where he grew up.
“I started biking to visit my brother in Florida,” explains Ward. “After the 1992 hurricane (Andrew) hit, I was left with (basically) nothing.”
When he was 18, he biked to visit his mother in New York and then at 19 he says he ended up in Hawaii.
“I find myself in random places,” he says, carefree.
Apart from ending up in random places, he just keeps on going and documenting with hopes that others will also discover what he’s discovered.
After he’s hiked The Palmetto Trail, he says he plans “to take a vacation and hike the Appalachian Trail” without so much as a hesitant skip.
Next year will be his 10th anniversary since he first hiked it in 2003.
No matter where he wanders off to, he always enjoys meeting up with different folks. In fact the Palmetto Conservation Society is hosting a meet and greet on Thursday in Columbia at 5:30 p.m.
People will start at City Hall and then walk with Ward towards the Sheraton Hotel where he will answer questions about his expenditure so far. There is no charge for this event but reservations are recommended.
Just in case a bearded backpacker is spotted, running is not an option. People are encouraged to talk to Ward about what he’s doing and why and how it’s all for the Palmetto state.