Guest Message - Marketing Coordinator Jordan Cutler-Smith

Message From The Director

Enjoying the parks is the greatest benefit of my job.  When I get to share something I love with a new team member it is exciting to see it from their eyes.  Last month I got to hike to the top of Table Rock, something I have done about 15 times but was joined by Jordan Cutler-Smith, our new Marketing Coordinator as she adventured to the top for her first time. Jordan helps assist with our state park marketing by managing our Instagram and TikTok accounts, the eParks Newsletter, and much more! I hope you enjoy her story as she shares a little about herself and her experience. 

- Paul 

About a month ago while at the annual Governors Conference on Tourism and Travel, the State Parks Director looked at me and challenged me to something that I had been intentionally putting off since I started working with parks. I’ll never forget the first time I heard about the “hike to the top of Table Rock.” I didn’t know what to expect, but what I did know was that the hike was one of the hardest in the state, and even some state park veterans hadn’t taken the commute yet. So, when Director Paul asked me to join him and former State Park Director, Phil Gaines, on a hike to the top, I excitedly said “Yes!” but immediately was flooded with so much doubt, fear and uncertainty.   

The night before the hike, I sat in bed contemplating why I had ever said yes and trying to convince myself to back out. Nonetheless, I woke up early that morning with all of my necessities - water, backpack, snacks and pain reliever to face whatever the hike would bring.

As we started the hike, I felt really energized and excited. Paul and Phil were educating me about the landscape, park history and life lessons they had learned all while mentally prepping me for what was to come.  I remember seeing joggers and hikers with their pets race past me and thinking to myself “Wow. There’s no way I could ever do that.” But then I realized that maybe one day I could. I had always thought I would never be able to even hike the trail - but here I was.

Despite being completely out of breath, once we reached the halfway shelter, I was in awe at the beauty that surrounded me. Seeing huge boulders from the mountain, hearing birds chirp and wildlife scurry - this was truly an experience like none other. As we continued, I quickly realized why this was one of the hardest hikes in South Carolina. While physically I wasn’t too bad - mentally I was worn. Having to constantly push past what felt comfortable became the norm and even when I felt like I couldn’t (or didn’t) want to continue because I was completely out of breath - having to keep going. Step after step, the incline heightened and seemed to last forever…but after about 4 hours we reached finally reached the top!

As we sat at the overlook and soaked up what was a beautiful day, I couldn’t help but feel so accomplished and grateful. Not only grateful to work in such beautiful parks, but to have the opportunity to challenge myself and do something I never imagined.  At the start of the new year, I set out to challenge myself mentally and step outside of my comfort zone. 

So as spring peaks and summer approaches, in the same way that Paul challenged me - I challenge you to try something new and face your fears. If you’re nervous about camping for the first time - grab some gear and go for it! If you’re uneasy about going into the swamps and kayaking - face that fear. Or even if you’re like me and have been putting off a 7.5-mile hike because of uncertainty and doubt, I challenge you to venture into the unknown, find beauty in the parks around you and accomplish things you once thought were impossible.