Our friends from Lowcountry Unfiltered wanted to do an Upstate River this fall. Since I’m the only one in the area that regularly paddles with them, I was tasked with finding a suitable trip. I had scouted the put-in and take-out points on a section of the Tyger River that flows through Sumter National Forest, and thought it might make a good trip. Today Bob Donnan and I scouted the section to see if it would, indeed, be a good paddle. Long story short – it wasn’t. However, it was a good day on the river, and that is always better than a day doing just about anything else.
I had my doubts about this trip. It had been raining all weekend, and when I got up Sunday morning there were flash flood warnings for Oconee County. However, I had the boats and gear already loaded onto the truck, and a phone call to Bob reported that they hadn’t received much rain. We decided to head on down to the river and check out conditions before committing to the trip.
I met Bob at our rendezvous point and we drove to the put-in at the Rose Hill Boat Ramp. Both of us remarked that this area seems “ancient”. There is very little development, and it seems remote. Sumter National Forest covers most of the region, and large hunt clubs have bought up huge tracts of land. The area seems almost mystical, as if just about anything beyond the realm of reality could happen.
Continue reading “Scouting the Tyger”
My nephew, Chip, helped design all of the websites for Confluence Water Sports, which includes Perception Kayaks, Dagger Kayaks, Wilderness Systems Kayaks, Mad River Canoes, Harmony, and a bunch of other brand names. As such, he had an early heads up that Confluence was having it’s first ever public sale at it’s corporate headquarters at the old Perception plant in Easley. Demos and seconds were going to be offered at ridiculously low prices. So on Friday Chip and several of his work buddies headed over and bought a boatload of …well, boats. The most convenient place to try all of this out was at our little lake, so this weekend we held the first ever Lake Fairfield Paddlefest.
Late Friday afternoon the flotilla arrived – a total of six kayaks of various types to add to the five I already have in the back yard. Chip, his wife Anna, and two of his work colleagues, Ed and Chris, were there to give the boats a trial run.
Continue reading “Lake Fairfield Paddlefest”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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
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”
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”
Today the plan was to head up toward the Sebastian area, have lunch, and visit the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. We headed north on US 1, stopped at Hale’s Groves for some citrus, then stopped at Rock City Gardens to look at the plants. Lunch was at the Sand Bar at Captain Hiram’s. It … Continue reading More Florida Wildlife Encounters