There’s a problem with belonging to several paddling groups on Facebook. Everyone is posting these fantastic shots of their paddling trips, and I start to develop a case of paddling envy. With beautiful weather this past week, I decided I had to get out on the water, even if it was just a short paddle on a local lake. After looking at several options, I decided on Saluda Lake on the west side of Greenville.
For launching I had two options. Last time we paddled it was $3 per boat to launch from the Motor Boat Club Landing, or $3 per car for parking at the public launch site on the Pickens County side. Since it was closer and the price would be basically the same, I decided the Motor Boat Club launch would be closer and easier Turns out I was quite wrong, on all accounts.
When I got to Motor Boat Club Landing I found that the price had gone up to $7 per boat, regardless of whether it was a pontoon, ski boat, or kayak. That’s crazy. I decided I would drive on around to the Pickens side and launch from there. The Pickens launch had yet another surprise – it was free! There was only one downside. I had planned to paddle upstream as far as I could, and this would add about a mile to my trip.
I launched into some of the nastiest water I think I’ve seen. There was brown crud everywhere, as if I were paddling in sewage. Not an auspicious beginning to this trip. I hoped that when I got into the current of the Saluda things would improve.
I was in my Tsunami 145, and I had changed the placement of my GoPro camera mount. It had been far down on the very tip of the bow. I added a second mount closer to where I could reach it so that I could change batteries easily.
The only problem is that I placed it too close. I occasionally hit it with my paddle. It did give me a chance to turn it around and take a couple of selfies, though.
I continued north, and noticed some changes. Back in 2010 when I first started paddling this lake Alan and I had noticed lots of abandoned boat houses and derelict buildings. There didn’t seem to be as many of those this time.
There was another HUGE change, though. Saluda Lake has had a major siltation problem. There was a long spit of sand blocking the Motor Boat Club landing. On our first trip to the lake, Alan and I had gotten turned around and didn’t even make it onto the river course because of the silt. On a 2012 paddling trip there was lots of construction, as if they were doing some lake remediation. Well, it seems to have worked, because the path seemed completely clear now. I didn’t spot any signs of siltation.
The changes can be seen even more dramatically in the Google Earth imagery. Here’s the image from 2010 showing the long siltation spit.
Here is the latest image from 2016.
They (whoever “they” is) did an excellent job with lake remediation. Water levels weren’t particularly high, but I didn’t hit sand bars out in the middle of the lake like I have in previous trips. The water had, in fact, cleared a bit, and the brown crud seemed to be contained to the lower end of the lake.
I continued on up river until I reached the part where it narrows. Twice I could have sworn I saw a bald eagle flying ahead of me upstream. The white tale was very distinctive. However, each time it was a brief glimpse, and I was never able to catch it in binoculars or camera.
Soon I was approaching Farr’s Bridge on Highway 183. I had forgotten that the old road bed and bridge abutments still exist just downstream from the current bridge. The recent heavy rains had washed lots of flotsam up against the bridge supports. Finding a path through was trickier than previous trips.
I continued on past the bridge. My original goal was to make it up to Hunt’s Bridge, but with the added distance from the new launch site it became apparent that I wasn’t going to make it quite that far. I paddled as far upstream as I felt comfortable, then headed back.
Coming back I was riding with the current, so it went a bit more quickly. However, when I came around the bend where the river opens onto the lake a stiff head wind had come up. So, current one way, head wind on the other. It was going to be a chore either direction.
I made it back to the ramp a bit later than I had hoped. It was already afternoon, and I had planned to have lunch downtown for St. Patrick’s Day. That was going to have to be a later afternoon beer and sandwich. When I arrived at the ramp another boater was also complaining about the brown crud that seemed to plague this part of the lake.
In all, I paddled 6.34 miles – not too bad for a quick paddling trip out on a local lake. They have made some nice improvements here, and with free parking at Pickens County ramp, I’ll have to come out here more often.