It’s another Lowcountry Unfiltered Second Saturday, which means paddling with my friends. Last month we traveled up to the Fall Line to paddle Turkey and Stevens Creeks. This month we would be hanging close to home, at least for the majority of our paddlers. We would be paddling the May River, launching from Bluffton. It wasn’t close to home for me, though. I made the four-hour drive down yesterday in time to do some pre-LCU paddling with Tim Brown on the New River. Today’s exploration with the larger group would be quite different.
Another Second Saturday and time for a Lowcountry Unfiltered adventure. This was actually a cross-over event, with as many participants from the Church of the Double-Bladed Paddle group on Facebook as LCU participants. Granted, two of us were in both groups, but still. The venue was one for the books – Turkey Creek and Stevens Creek in McCormick County turned out to be a waterway with an identity crisis. It didn’t know if it wanted to be Upcountry or Lowcountry.
It was a Second Saturday and time for another Lowcountry Unfiltered outing. This time we planned to paddle Sparkleberry Swamp. Our group had paddled here a couple of times before, and I’ve been here lots of times, most recently with Dwight and his son Adam back in June. I’ve already written huge amounts about what a magical place it is to paddle. This time we had some newbies with us, and this time we experienced the swamp as we never had before.
We missed our traditional Second Saturday trek with Lowcountry Unfiltered. Laura and I were still in Florida, and Matt was tied up with moving. Several others of our group also had conflicts, so we decided to postpone the trip to the third Saturday. For this trip, we decided to tackle a wild and remote section of the Savannah River. We would be putting in at Burton’s Ferry Landing and paddling 15 miles downriver to Cohen’s Bluff.
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.
The “Rope Swing” part of the title should be obvious. Our ADD paddlers tend to stop at just about every sandbar, especially if it has a rope swing. As for the “Beer Commercial” part, that comes from various home brewers in our group, most notably James Brown, trying out their wares on our group. It’s not a serious paddling trip – basically a party on the river with kayaks as the mode of transportation.
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.
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.