My, how time flies. Back in 2008 I spotted a couple of guys online on Flickr that posted photos similar to mine. They were planning a trip down the Edisto and invited me to tag along. That turned out to be an epic adventure. Seven years later and we’re still going strong, taking an adventurous trip somewhere the second Saturday of each month. These guys have become some of my closest friends, and it seemed right commemorate this auspicious occasion.
Yesterday when we were kayaking on the Savannah River we found something rather disturbing. About a half mile south of Stokes Bluff Landing on the South Carolina side of the river several headstones were embedded in the rip rap along the bank.
It was a second Saturday, and we were long overdue for a Lowcountry Unfiltered paddling trip. We missed last month, and the two months before that our schedule had been somewhat off. I really needed to get back on the water and it seemed that the Savannah River was just the ticket.
I drove down Friday afternoon and stayed overnight in Walterboro. Alan and I met up for breakfast there, then we headed on toward our put-in at Stokes Bluff in Hampton County. The section we would be floating wasn’t as long as some of our other trips, but we would have opportunities for several side excursions.
It’s a Second Saturday, and time for another Lowcountry Unfiltered adventure. This time LCU would be taking on the mighty Ogeechee River south of Savannah, Ga. The Ogeechee is Georgia’s Edisto River. It’s a nearly 300 mile free-flowing blackwater river. The section we would be floating would include cypress swampland, as well as some tidal flow.
Having spent the night nearby, I had plenty of time to get a good breakfast and head over to our rendezvous at the take-out at Kings Ferry Park on Highway 17. I was the first to arrive, and took the opportunity to catch some photos in the morning light.
Another second Saturday and it was time for another Lowcountry Unfiltered trip. It was also time to get back on the water. While our group loves any kind of exploration, from swamp stomping to biking, our preferred form of travel has always been water.
We bounced several ideas for the March trip back and forth. Finally, we settled on our old standby, the Edisto River. We would be doing a new stretch (for us) from Whetstone Landing down to Greenpond Landing. The route would be about 13.6 miles. Continue reading “Edisto from Whetstone to Greenpond”
This trip almost didn’t happen. Actually, it was supposed to have happened back in July, our traditional date for the annual Lowcountry Unfiltered Rope Swing and Beer Commercial Float on the Edisto River. However, the second Saturday in July had the highest river levels seen on the Edisto in years. It was a no-go. Even delaying a week didn’t help. The river stayed at flood stage, so we were forced to seek out an alternate trip on Lake Marion.
So, we decided to try again in August. The second Saturday came, and the waters were still high, but no so much as to make the trip impossible. I got up early and drove on down to the meeting point at Givhens Ferry State Park. Two new guys, Jim and Dan Hill, were there waiting for me. Soon the rest of the guys showed up. We redistributed boats, then drove up to our put-in at Mars Old Field Landing. Ultimately, there were nine of us on this trip – a good number. John Nelson turned on his charm and drafted a young lady to take our group photo. Continue reading “The Beer Commercial Float”
We have a tradition of looking for a good barbecue place after our paddling trips. This was no different. Our target for this outing was Lone Star Barbecue and Mercantile. However, this was a two-fer – lots of good food and a chance to explore one of South Carolina’s ghost towns.
Lone Star, the Ghost Town
It started with a bit of miscommunication. The rest of the guys had never been to the town of Lone Star, and thought that the barbecue place was in the town proper. So, once we loaded up the boats, they set off, with me following, toward the town. What they found was the ghost town that I knew. All that is left of Lone Star is the old freight depot, moved from its original location, the large brick Masonic building, and two dilapidated stores. Across the tracks was a small convenience store that may or may not have been open. No barbecue anywhere in sight.
This year’s weird weather has wreaked havoc with our normal paddling schedule. The second Saturday of July was supposed to be our infamous Beer Commercial paddle on the Edisto River, AKA the Rope Swing Extravaganza, AKA “Hey, Ya’ll! Watch this!” Yet, even the daredevil nature of Lowcountry Unfiltered had to bend to the forces of nature, as the Edisto swelled from its banks with the excess rain. On our way back from Florida we stopped by the put-in, and found it completely flooded.
The situation did not improve over the week, so come second Saturday we decided to postpone the trip for a week to see if matters improved. They did not. So, with water levels cresting at nearly 14 feet, 4 feet over flood stage, we needed to find a new paddling venue. It seemed that a lake might be better than a river, so we looked to our favorite location, Lake Marion. Continue reading “From Swamp to River to Lake to Creek”
So far our crew from Lowcountry Unfiltered had breakfast at Battens in Wedgefield, visited the cemetery of a deranged governor, hiked part of the Palmetto trail and discovered an old railroad junction, and we were just getting started.
Manchester and Melrose
We got back to our vehicles and headed to the location of the ghost town of Manchester. The town died out with the demise of the Wilmington and Manchester railroad. All that remains are a few rural houses. We paused briefly, and left in search of a more interesting section of Manchester.
Nearby is a marking indicating the location of Melrose Plantation. Built in the late 1700s, the plantation was owned by Matthew Singleton, whose cemetery we had visited earlier in the day. We stopped at the marker and took a look around. There were a few foundation stones, and the twisted remains of a metal bed. Unfortunately the bed appeared to be more of modern than pre-Civil War origin.
We had loaded up with breakfast at Battens in Wedgefield, and now it was time to go exploring. There were eleven us, divided over three vehicles. Luckily, I had three FRS radios so we could coordinate our travels. So, we set off.
We got off the main highway, and as we entered Manchester State Forest the pavement just kind of gave out. We road on a fairly fast clip, past forested areas and farmland, most of it with “Posted. No Tresspassing” signs.