Thursday was Sparkleberry Swamp with the Tri-County Blueway Paddlers. Since this was a Second Saturday, it also meant that it was time for a trek with Lowcountry Unfiltered. We would be doing a trip through yet another cypress swamp, this time along Ebenezer Creek in Georgia.
I drove down Friday night so that I wouldn’t have to be driving all day on Saturday. My lodgings were an incredible cheap and dilapidated Motel 6 in Hardeeville. It was clean(ish) and functional (mostly), but the operative word was “cheap.” It was better than the place next door, which had absolutely no roof.
Their “hot breakfast” was a waffle maker, a few biscuits, and sawmill gravy the same gray color and texture as the peeling paint on the walls. At least I managed to get into Savannah for a good seafood meal on River Street.
I didn’t get much sleep, so when I arrived at the put-in early I strung up my hammock for a quick nap. I think I would have gotten more sleep had I just been in the hammock all night. Next time.
LCU has paddled Ebenezer twice, and I’ve been with them on one of those trips. Each time we had taken out at Ebenezer Landing on the Savannah River. Our plan was to do the same this time, and that’s where we would meet. When I got there, though, there was a problem. There were now “No Trespassing” signs at the land. It was closed and private. Since the signs also said “No Pictures”, I just had to take some photos.
I relayed this info back to Matt. While waiting I checked out the old Jerusalem Church and Cemetery. We had planned on a more thorough exploration of this historic area when we got done with the paddle.
I left Ebenezer and drove over to the landing at Long Bridge, where we planned to put in. The creek looked dead calm, with no current. Plan B? We would just meet here and do an out-and-back exploration. There would only be three of us on this trip, so we could be a bit more flexible. I strung up my hammock and awaited my fellow paddlers.
Once again, this would be a very small LCU group. Only Matt and George made the trek up from Bluffton.
Ebenezer was deep, dark, and VERY green. A layer of duckweed covered everything. As we were getting ready two other kayak groups launched, a couple in two kayaks, and a family with another group of kayaks. We launched and headed upstream first, cutting swaths through the green.
If we were hoping to use these swaths as breadcrumbs to show us the way out of the swamp, we were sorely mistaken. The weeds would close in behind us, as if we’d never been there. It was a bit…creepy. We could also tell that the water had been about a foot higher recently as a layer of green also coated the cypress trees and knees.
We headed back to the main stem of the creek, traveling eastward and downstream. Downstream didn’t have much meaning, though. There was no current and the duckweed kept everything still.
As with my previous trip to Sparkleberry, this was like a flooded forest. The high water levels meant that we could paddle just about anywhere. Unlike Sparkleberry, there are definite stream boundaries. In theory, it’s not as easy to get lost. In theory. There also seemed to be much more underbrush. We did run into the occasional dead end.
I kept hearing this static white noise. I had my marine radio with me and wondered if I’d accidentally turned it on. It turns out that it was thousands of tiny leaves from the duckweed scraping past the kayak. The weeds were quite thick in some places and really impeded forward motion. In other places it thinned out and left Fibonacci spirals in the current.
I kept thinking about all of those boat inspection stations where I had to stop on my drive out to Washington. I don’t think they would let me pass with all of this stuff on the kayak. I’d definitely have to wash it when I got done with this trip.
The course opened up and we came to a spot known as Alligator Garden. As sign indicated the name and the distance to the Savannah River. An actual alligator popped up under the sign and Matt desperately wanted to get that photo. Alas, the gator ducked back down and hid from us.
On the other side of this open area was a makeshift ladder up a tree and a rope swing. Given the amount of vegetation, there’s no way I’d swing on that thing, gators or no.
We weren’t sure of the route, but we didn’t think we could get too lost. I had my GPS and we were constrained by the stream boundaries. We still had quite a ways to go before we got to our planned lunch stop, though.
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