2010 certainly had its ups and downs for our extended family. We lost a family member to cancer, several of my family and friends had other health issues, and the lingering financial cloud presented challenges at work as well at home. Laura and I weren’t exactly able to take a vacation, but we were able to take advantage of conferences and family visits to do some traveling.
The one thing we were able to do in abundance this year was kayak – and we did A LOT of it. Apart from quick run-outs to Lake Cunningham or our local lake in the backyard, we participated in over 20 paddling expeditions this year. We explored some new areas, and I was able to make new friends and set up new paddling associations with folks. Here’s just a quick run-down of some of the trips:
- Indian River in Florida at Christmas
- Lake Jocasee (multiple trips)
- French Broad River
- Lake Hartwell-Little River to Newry
- Lake Cunningham (multiple trips)
- Lake Robinson (multiple trips)
- Saluda Lake (multiple trips)
- Saluda River
- Edisto River – Greenpond Church to Cannadys
- Edisto River – Stokes Bridge to Mars Old Field
- Edisto River – Mars Old Field to Messervy Landing
- Burrows Bay, Washington State
- Sparkleberry Swamp
- From Lake Moultrie through the Pinopolis Lock to the Tailrace Canal
- Intracoastal Waterway from Lady Island near Beaufort
- Lake Oolenoy
- Tugaloo River
Two stark omissions from this list are the Green and Tuckaseegee Rivers. The Green has been our standard for over 30 years, and for some reason we didn’t get around to paddling it this year. All of these trips were mostly flatwater, with no whitewater excursions at all. That’s one thing we’ll definitely have to rectify this upcoming year.
The best thing about these trips was the camaraderie. There’s always been my core group of local paddlers – Bob, Alan, Dwight, David – and now I’ve got more family members into paddling – Houston, Chip, and Stephen. Expeditions with my good friends at Lowcountry Unfiltered are always a blast, and I look forward to our monthly outings. This year Alan and I also started paddling with the Greenville Canoe and Kayak Meetup. While not as closely knit as the guys from LCU, it’s still a great bunch of folks, and we’ve enjoyed getting to know them. Each group brings its own dynamic to paddling, and it’s been interesting to see the differences between formal and informal gatherings.
Even with the huge number of trips I’ve taken this year, I still have regrets for some that I missed. Paddling in snow on Ebenezer Creek, Cockspur Island, French Broad River, Savannah River, and Ashepoo River trips come to mind. Those are some more that I want to catch this next year.
This year we also upgraded our equipment. Several of my friends got new boats, and I was able to get a tandem kayak and touring boat. We’ve now got enough gear to start putting together our own expeditions and have enough boats to include folks that don’t have their own.
Of course, paddling goes hand in hand with photography. Kayaking gets me back into areas that I couldn’t otherwise explore, and the scenery and wildlife potential are huge. I checked, and I have right at 1000 photographs uploaded to Flickr that have been tagged as “paddling” just for 2010 alone. (Well, 992, but who’s counting?) That doesn’t include the thousands more that I took but didn’t post. You could view each of those, or you could just watch this quick video clip I created with Pummelvision. It includes 2000 photos from the past year in rapid succession, including non-paddling trips and other family snapshots.
So, what’s on tap for 2011? Bob and I are definitely going to have to make up for lost time on the Green River. I also want to do Sparkleberry Swamp from Low Falls Landing, Turkey Creek-Stevens Creek through Edgefield County, and do the Saluda River at Buzzard’s Roost below the Lake Greenwood Dam. There will also be trips planned by Lowcountry Unfiltered and the Greenville Group. I know I won’t be able to make all of them, but I want to try to catch as many as I can. I’m hoping that we can do even more trips in this upcoming year.
UPDATE: I had created a Pummelvision video with just paddling photographs for inclusion in this post. Unfortunately, it hadn’t finished rendering by the time I was ready to publish. That video is now ready, so here it is…