An old friend.......
Many many years ago I had the pleasure of floating down the Edisto River. It was low water. I remember sandbars, birds, gators, strange foliage and the deep blackness of the water. I was in my own Bob Ross painting and yes, I did see that happy little cabin. Quite a few actually. Years went by and I felt it was time to see my old friend and this time with a much more purposeful visit.
Trip planning started several months back with me wanting to offer a multi-day experience that would knock out the first leg of the 62 mile Edisto River Trail. The idea was that the other two legs would follow over the course of several months. Logistics, logistics, logistics! Part of the fun of putting these trips together is all of the subtle nuances of getting gear and people from Point A to Point B. SC State Parks made the process of lodging super easy and folks from ERCKTRAIL.COM made putting together the nav plan a lot easier for sure.
Day 1:10 Miles - Green Pond Church Landing to Colleton County State Park
Day 1 started with mustering at Colleton County State Park. It's pretty awesome when you realize that you have forgotten your camping chair (even though you checked it off on your checklist) and walk into the Ranger station / store and there is (1) left waiting for you!.......a good omen for sure. Also the fact that I mysteriously had (2) sites booked versus one was also a plus. All the stars were aligned. Meet and greet done. Boats loaded we were off to Green Pond Church Landing. Located about 4 miles up from the I-95 crossing, hang a right, take it to the end and there is the swamp! Looked a lot like Sparkeberry. Unload boats, eat lunch, gear up and get going. The time was 1300 hours. Picking our way through the mangrove, we hit the first switch back of the Edisto. Checking the GPS, there are 50 more way points to go and the water is moving fast! The USCG Gihvans gauge had the main stem at moderate flood : 11.2 feet and around 6,500 CFS (4000+ over the average). Not paddling we were doing a clean 3.5 knots. Along the way we explored and played with eddy hopping (awesome in 17 foot kayaks) and talked out river hydrology and geology. It was so wild seeing water pouring out of and into the river as we progressed. Some things looked familiar from years ago but most of it was new and that was just fine. Everyone was in great spirits and the sun shined brightly reflecting the trees like a mirror into the black water. Edisto literally means black. The water was cold, the air was cold and the river was pumping. Two and a half hours later we paddled right to our campsite and done. Quick work was made getting the boats stowed and on the trailer for Day 2. It was time for hot showers, cocktails, shrimp tacos for dinner and campfire blarney (the stuff we talk about never ceases to amaze me). A full rich day for sure and sleep.
Day 2: 13 Miles - Minnie Grubber's Landing to Gihvans Ferry State Park
Up a 0700. Shower. Coffee. Coffee. More coffee.........an awesome breakfast to follow. Meet some new friends. Break camp. Load up the troops and off to our next State Park: Gihvans Ferry. Check in. Get to the site (awesome location). Set up camp. Suck down lunch. Gear up. Jump in the CRV and off to Minnie Grubber's Landing. Unload boats. Safety talk done. Jump in and away we go. The river dropped about 2 inches from the day before and was still cranking. We added and additional 3.5 miles to the second day and the GPS showed 100 way points carrying us through endless switchbacks. With the flooding there where plenty of opportunities to take "shortcuts". Day 2 definitely had more evidence of how high the water was shoreline homes flooded out. Play again with eddy hoping. Talk A LOT about reading water and the unseen dangers of paddling at flood. Get stuck on the submerged tree taking an "exploratory" line.......yup, I am a professional. The group really looked comfortable Day 2 and were working the river, following the flow and letting the water do the work. Super rewarding the see. Group pee break. Put on at 1300, off the river at 1430. 13 miles done. Shuttle back to pick up car. Load boats and head back to camp. Change. Get warm and rock Italian night!. Special thanks to Kendra for her chopping skills. Dinner consumed and disco lights fired up by Joseph (the stuff this guy has in his van). The trees lite up in concert like style with the mix of light, campfire smoke and fog. Super surreal. Playlist for the evening was everything from Black Flag to Ave Maria. Another amazing day and an amazing sleep as the rain began to fall on the tents / hammocks.
I was truly impressed by the cleanliness of SC State Parks. Super friendly dedicated staff and no hassle getting plans made. Kudos to you SC. It was so cool to again see my old friend and introduce all my new friends. A lot has changed over the years but we picked up the conversation right were we left off. Looking forward to announcing the upcoming trips that will round out the 62 miles of the Edisto trail. Hopefully you can join us and meet an old friend.