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.Houston and I met up with the rest of the group at Givhen’s Ferry and caught a ride back to Mars Old Field Landing. Our group would be smaller today. Six members of the group weren’t able to make it, so our original group of 15 was pared down to nine brave souls. Of that number, only Matt Richardson and I made the trip last year. This was a new group.
We unloaded the boats, distributed sandwiches and other necessities, then posed for a group shot (photo at the top of the post, by John Ring.)
Soon we were on our way downstream. We launched with a trio on inflatable rafts, and we were passed by three canoes, but the expected crowds from Riverfest were no where to be seen.
At this point the river is a bit narrower, and the current is strong. There aren’t many houses along this stretch, either, so it is rather isolated. Along this stretch we encountered the first of many rope swings. These were to be the highlight of the trip.
On down the river we started to see some more signs of habitation. The river narrowed and came around a couple of sharp bends, above which were several houses. Well, actually, these were single-wide mobile homes where the owners had added screen porches and roofing. In some cases, these were more elaborate than the original trailer.
A couple more bends of the river, and we felt like it was time for another swim break. This is also where the Taylor Brothers broke out the big guns.
We had come prepared for battle, and used these against each other and as well as unsuspecting paddlers and floaters throughout the trip.
At one point a narrow channel enters the Edisto from the west side. An old bridge and wooden walkway cross the channel and lead out to a private recreational area. Here we explored the channel a bit, but we didn’t go as far back as last year.
Back on the main body we continued past more homes on the banks. Some of these were very nice and elaborate. Some not as fancy, but still elaborate. All of them looked like great places for a weekend getaway.
The river was much, much higher than last year. Subsequently, the limestone marl shelves where we had found so many fossils last year were underwater. With the water levels higher, the current was also pushing us along at a faster clip. We found ourselves arriving at landmarks sooner than we expected. However, this also gave us more opportunities to explore some side-channels.
We hit two more rope swings before all was said and done. In fact, we probably spent more time at the swings photographing each other and acting like idiots than we did actually paddling. I tried out my panning techniques with the photos, and even tried my hand at swinging. Houston won the facial expression award, but Matt and Brian won the style awards for their spectacular back-flips.
Traffic on the river was beginning to pick up. Several float parties had launched from a couple of the houses along the banks. Most of these were huge collections of tubes and other inflatables, tended by a larger motor boat. I don’t know if they planned to float from point-to-point like we were, or if they were just going to use the boat to travel back up river. I suspect the latter.
Finally we reach the confluence with the Four Holes Swamp and paddled into it. With the higher water levels the current was much stronger than I remembered. We reached the bridge, and continued on for a little over a mile. Several of us gave up and let the more adventurous of the group continue on, while we hung out in the cool shade of the bridge with the nesting swallows.
Beyond Four Holes the river gets much wider, and the traffic really began to pick up. There were more inner tubes, and much more boat traffic. I’m not sure how much of this was related to Riverfest, but the float bubbas were out in full force, with coolers, grills, and anything else necessary for a good redneck river party.
The jet skis were especially annoying. However, we were close to the end by this time. Soon we reached Givhen’s Ferry and the take out. As we pulled out our kayaks and got our gear ready to load, we were treated to a spectacular domestic spat out in the parking lot. It was really classy.
But, despite the redneck and float bubba encounters, it was a great day. I enjoyed it all the more with my brothers able to join us. I’m hoping we can do many more trips like this.