Jocassee – Paddler’s Paradise

I really wanted to get out on my new boat. With the entire day available for paddling, I decided to head up to Lake Jocassee. I had paddled Jocassee many times, but our excursions were always rather limited. I was stoked to get out on a boat that could actually get me somewhere and see parts of the lake I had not seen before. This turned into a review of a paddling destination as much as a review of the new boat.

It seems that I’m always starting off in a fog. That’s been more physical than metaphysical lately, with a foggy start to last week’s Edisto trip, and now with fog blanketing the Upstate. Most of it had burned off by the time I arrived at the upper boat ramp at Devil’s Fork State Park. Continue reading “Jocassee – Paddler’s Paradise”

The Curative Powers of the Edisto

This was not a good sign. Pinpoints of light danced across my vision as I checked last minute e-mail. The truck was loaded, and in a few minutes I would be heading south to Sumter to spend the night with my brother, Stephen. In the morning we would join the band of miscreants known as Lowcountry Unfiltered for another epic journey down the Edisto River. A migraine headache was the last thing I needed.

I had taken some preventative medicine and decided to go for it. The drive down was interesting, as various extremities alternately numbed and chilled. As long as I kept my eye on the road and didn’t look down the visual aura stayed to the edges. I managed to keep a couple of plain McDonalds hamburgers down and make it safely to Steve’s.

The day broke full of deep fog. We still had a two-hour drive to the put-in, and we speculated about how cool it would be to paddle through this. We might even stumble upon some ancient civilization, kept hidden until the mist burned off. Given our knowledge of the area, this was a real possibility. Continue reading “The Curative Powers of the Edisto”

Paddling Up Cedar Creek

Lots of Green

Bob D. was up for a paddling trip, and we both wanted to do something besides the Green River or the Tuckaseegee. I suggested Cedar Creek in Congaree National Park, and Bob agreed.

The last time I paddled Cedar Creek it turned into an uphill death march, as we had paddled our canoes downstream, then tried to paddle back upstream to get to our cars. I was determined not to repeat that mistake. Initially we were going to take two vehicles and do a point-to-point paddle from Bannister Bridge to Cedar Creek Road, which would be about eight miles downstream. However, since it was a fairly long drive down there and there were just two of us, we decided to put in at Cedar Creek Road, paddle upstream for awhile, then paddle downstream with the current while we were tired. Made more sense to me. Continue reading “Paddling Up Cedar Creek”

Rope Swings, Rednecks, and Riverfest

It’s the second Saturday of the month, so it must be time for another Lowcountry Unfiltered adventure. Our goal was to retrace our tracks from July of last year and paddle a section of the Edisto River from Mars Old Field Landing down to Givhen’s Ferry State Park. This time, against their better judgment, my brothers Stephen and Houston agreed to come along.

Houston met me in Greenville and we loaded up the boats, then spent the night at Stephen’s place in Sumter. Early that morning we headed on down for our rendezvous with the rest of the gang.

Saturday was also the date for the Edisto Riverfest. We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of crowds, both at the parks and on the river itself. We decided to leave the boats with Stephen at the put-in, then drop off the truck at the take-out. That way if things got bad we could paddle straight through and load up and go without having to wait for the rest of the group. Turns out that wasn’t going to be a problem. Continue reading “Rope Swings, Rednecks, and Riverfest”

Down to the River to Pray

The symbol of a river figures prominently in religious iconography, Crossing over Jordan, etc. The concept of baptism also figures strongly in this symbolism. Instead of going to church on this lovely Sunday, I decided to explore these symbols directly, with a paddle down the Green River. Bob Donnan and I rendezvoused at the take … Continue reading Down to the River to Pray

Paddling the Congaree Swamp

Canoeing the Congaree Swamp

Early Saturday morning a small group of us gathered to paddle Cedar Creek, located in the Congaree Swamp National Park. Instead of kayaks, we decided that would take this trip in canoes. It turned out to be one of the longest paddling trips I’ve taken, covering about 6 miles of swamp, then paddling back.

The issue of which boat to take was only resolved at the last minute. I knew Dwight was bringing his canoe. Whether or not I brought my kayak, or lugged my old battleship 15′ Coleman canoe depended on how many people decided to go. In the end, it was the Coleman, so I loaded it into the back of my pickup with about as much hanging off the tailgate as was actually in the bed of the truck.

Alan Russell and I met James Martin (who had joined us on our last flooded Congaree hike), Dwight Moffitt, and his friend Peter at the put in on South Cedar Creek Road. Dwight and Peter would be in one boat, Alan and I would be in mine, and James had his kayak. The plan was to paddle downstream a bit, then head back. According to Dwight this would take us through some of the more remote parks of the swamp, and away from the crowded boardwalks. Dwight assured us that paddling back upstream wouldn’t be a problem. Yeah, right. Continue reading “Paddling the Congaree Swamp”

Kayaking and Caves in Lucayan National Park

For our last full day in the Bahamas I had booked a kayaking tour and trip to the Lucayan National Park. Laura had been fighting a bad cough all week and didn’t feel like going, so I was on my own. After watching another stunning Bahamian sunrise, I began gathering my gear and headed down to meet the group.

I was the only one from our resort going on the tour, but there were nine others that had already been picked up, and we stopped for four more on the way out. Along with our guide, we had a party of fifteen. Continue reading “Kayaking and Caves in Lucayan National Park”

Oh Blackwater, Keep On Rolling…

John N paddles downstream

Saturday morning I got up at 4:00 am, loaded the kayak into the truck and headed south once more to the Edisto River. Last month we had originally planned to kayak the entire 20.3 mile stretch from Colleton State Park to Givhan’s Ferry State Park. We wound up breaking the trip into sections, running only the portion from Mars Old Field to Givhan’s Ferry last time. This time we were going to do the section from Colleton State Park to Stokes Bridge Landing – 8 miles, about the same length as our last trip.

This time there were seven in our group. Matt, John N., Rob D., and Chris J. returned. James B. couldn’t make it, but we were joined by John R. and his son Kevin. Matt’s dog, Cotton rounded out our entourage. We unloaded all the boats, then ran a shuttle down to Stokes Bridge.

As we got underway we observed a huge group of canoes and kayaks getting started on the opposite bank. This was a mixed group of all ages. As they passed I noticed several unusual seating arrangements. Several of the canoes had a man in the back paddling, and a woman up front just along for the ride – no paddle in hand whatsoever. Strange. Continue reading “Oh Blackwater, Keep On Rolling…”