Second Saturday of the month means a paddling trip with Lowcountry Unfiltered…except that this was a third Saturday, and the group was more Midlands and Upcountry than Lowcountry. Even so, our band of adventurers once again headed down to the Edisto River. This trip we added another yet-unpaddled stretch of the river to our resume’s. We would be doing the stretch from Messervy Landing to Long Creek Landing.
I swung through Simpsonville and picked up Alan, and we headed on our way. Our first stop was breakfast at Bill and Fran’s in Newberry, then continued on down to Messervy Landing. Soon we were joined by Jerry, Marc, and Matt, bringing our number to five.
We had taken out at Messervy several times. Usually it was a zoo, with float bubbas winding up their drunken tube parties here, and law enforcement keeping close tabs on revelers as well as respectable kayakers such as ourselves. This time it was quite, with large puddles from a recent rain.
That recent rain also raised the level of the river. It was running quickly when we launched.
I had seen comments on the Edisto Floaters Facebook page commenting on how tricky this section could be for those on inner tubes. While the stretch from Mars Old Field to Givhen’s Ferry and on to Messervy gets fairly wide, this stretch has the reputation for being narrower with more strainers. Most of the floaters prefer to launch from a place called Jellico’s.
We quickly found the floater’s concerns to be valid. The current was strong, and there was lots of underbrush and downed trees. Fortunately, we found ways around most of it, but it occasionally required some tricky paddling. I wouldn’t put a beginner on this stretch under these conditions.
With the water as high as it was it was easier for us to get back into the various streams, oxbows, and back channels for some exploration.
Even with the tight bits, the river was mostly open, and it was a nice, easy paddle. Unlike the South Edisto through Aiken, this one didn’t have constant bends with a strong current. You could kick back and relax a bit.
There was an occasional house along the way, but for the most part this stretch was fairly isolated. We did hear gunshots almost the entire length of the river, though. Most of this sounded like target practice, and we hoped that they were aiming AWAY from the river. Despite the gunfire, we saw quite a bit of bird life on the river, mostly herons, but the occasional kingfisher and white egret would join us.
The day was overcast and cool. It was perfect weather for paddling, although not so much for photography.
At one point Matt was negotiating a bit of underbrush and lost his favorite straw hat. He watched it get snagged by the current and pushed under some limbs where it was irretrievable.
We moved quickly downstream. While we did a good bit of side exploration among the cypress forests and oxbows, we didn’t stop and dawdle in the water like we often do on the Edisto. Lunch time was approaching, and we were looking for a good place to stop. An abandoned house boat at first looked like it might be a novel place for our meal.
When we got there, though, we found that it was moored – someone was using this as a river escape. Even if that didn’t keep us away, the stench coming from the boat made us have second thoughts about boarding it. We kept going.
Around a bend we heard water running spotted a rare lowcountry “waterfall.” The water level of the tributary stream was a bit higher, and was being held back by detritus at the confluence with the main stream. It made for a nice sound.
Eventually we reached Good Hope Landing, about mid-way through our trip. It made the perfect place to stop and cook our bratwurst and sauerkraut.
From this point on the river opened up for the most part. We paddle on, exploring side oxbows and other channels. I took lots of photos, but, in all honesty, they kind of start to look the same.
We found one spectacular oxbow and paddle back up it a ways. The cypress trees were huge. Or, rather, they were huge at the base, but narrowed at the top, and were fairly short. Even so, with the overcast sky it took on a mystical feel.
The river had one more surprise in store for us, though. At one of the narrower points Marc hit a submerged limb and flipped his kayak. He was OK, but his nice Canon DSLR got soaked and wouldn’t come on again. Marc was surprisingly good natured about it.
The river continued widening with a quick current. With the dark skies and a good lunch in me, it was tempting to nap a bit and let the current just carry me along. I can understand the appeal of floating in tube sometimes.
Eventually we reached the lake that leads back to Long Creek landing, our take-out. First though, on the left bank was very large, inviting sandbar that we just had to check out. This looked like a perfect spot for river camping or having a picnic.
The sandbar was directly opposite the cove where we would find the landing. A few houses lined the entrance to the cove.
We got our boats landed, the went to retrieve our vehicles. The shuttle back to Messervy was longer than I had thought, mainly because we started on the east side of the river and took out on the west side.
It was a great stretch of the river, and I wouldn’t mind doing this one again. In all, we paddled 10.2 miles, according to the GPS.
Alan and I headed back, and decided we needed to round out the day with barbecue. He suggested Shealy’s in Batesburg, which meant leaving the interstate and taking a winding trek across country. We saw lots of things we would like to come back and photograph. I did stop at one potential school.
The architecture looks right for a Tuskegee design with the hipped dormer over a central entrance. With the undergrowth we couldn’t tell if there were one or two entrances. When I got home GNIS didn’t show an reference for a school there, so it was probably just a house with the same styling.
Shealy’s BBQ was well worth the detour, and we ate well. It was an excellent end to an excellent day of paddling.
Here’s the slide show: