I have been in serious need of hydrotherapy. More importantly, I was desperate to join up with my friends from Lowcountry Unfiltered and engage in some camaraderie and mischief. Jim Leavell expressed interested in doing another stretch of the Edisto, so I talked Matt into doing a bit that we had yet to explore. It turned out to be a nearly perfect (albeit chilly) day of paddling.
There’s about a 14 mile piece of the main stem of the Edisto that I have not paddled. On this day we would be doing a trip from Good Hope Landing down to Sullivan’s Landing, knocking out about half of that missing piece. It would also count toward my New Year’s goal of paddling 10 new venues.
Jim and I loaded up the boats and headed out early Saturday morning. We drove straight down to Good Hope Landing without encountering any lizard men. At the landing we found Matt Richardson, Tim Brown, and Chapin Burgess. There would be five of us on this trip. The landing itself was excellent, with two boat ramps and multiple launch points for kayaks.
With storms earlier in the week we worried about conditions for this trip. The water was high and the current swift, but manageable. This meant that we could get back into coves and swamps that would otherwise be inaccessible. An overnight cold snap had dropped the temps and a cool breeze didn’t help, but the sun was shining and we were ready to head out.
A deep swampy cove wound just north of the launch. We decided to head that way before going downstream. We were paddling against current, but it was doable. We explored as far back as we could.
Back out on the main river we caught the current and surged forward. I glanced at my GPS and saw that we were cruising along a 5 mph with little effort. At that rate this trip would be over in no time.
I had printed out the relevant pages in SCDNR’s Edisto Boating Guide. It’s one of the clearest, most detailed maps of the river and it showed us places where we could explore and delay our downstream trek. One of these was a canal to the west that led to an area that reminded me a bit of the housing developments along the canals in Florida. It was still secluded and not built up, and we had to fight a bit of current.
We were all pretty much in agreement that this was one of the loveliest stretches of the river that we had encountered. The river is wide at this point and easily navigable. The reflected scenery kept our cameras busy constantly. I was glad my GoPro was snapping photos every 10 seconds so that I could just sit back and enjoy occasionally.
Even though it was cold we saw lots of wildlife. There were kingfishers, herons, egrets, and even a prothonotary warbler that just wanted to pose for us.
I didn’t see any reptiles until I spotted a couple of turtles toward the end of the trip. Tim and Chapin saw an alligator and managed to get a photo.
Apparently this is a popular tubing route during the summer. Tubers put in at Good Hope and take out a Jellico’s Landing at the Alt-17 bridge. At one point the river gets a bit twisty with some trees to dodge. Floaters had put up a warning sign.
I was trying to figure out what “O Shut” meant until a guy in a johnboat told me that it was supposed to be “Oh Shit!” – a warning for innertubes.
We explored more side channels along Kelly’s Cove and other spots. There were some massive cypress trees and more beautiful reflections.
We had planned to stop for lunch a Long Creek Landing, one of the many possible stops along this route. Instead we found a nice place just upstream from there. A dirt road ran along the river and it made a perfect place for a stop.
Matt set up The Most Photographed Stove in South Carolina™ to start work on our usual feast of bratwurst and sauerkraut.
This time our meal would have some unusual additions. I had procured a quart of honest-to-goodness moonshine from and undisclosed source. This was made from white corn grown in Upstate South Carolina and made in what is most likely an illegal still. It was VERY smooth and drinkable, a dangerous combination. We limited ourselves to a few sips, holding communion on the river with a bit o’ ‘shine.
The moonshine wasn’t the only unusual cuisine. We had discussed having a “Country Store Potluck” where we bring whatever items that we find. Only one such item made an appearance today – pickled pigs feet.
I found a small jar, not at a country store, but at Walmart. We opened it up to find only two feet inside. Matt and I were the only ones brave enough to sample these, and we decided to share one of the feet.
The flavor was…not bad! In fact, it could almost be called good. That is, if it weren’t for the texture. There was no meat to speak of and you were really only eating the skin. Soon it got to us and Matt and I couldn’t get bast the texture. We tossed the remainder of our foot as well as the remaining foot into the river as a sacrifice to the gods of the Edisto.
The waters around the spot where the feet fell roiled, as if a hoard with less discerning tastes than ours were happy for our offering. It made us a bit concerned about swimming or dipping any limbs into the river.
Fortunately, we had real food to sate our appetites.
After sufficient time with moonshine, beer, and the enlarging of past adventures, we continued on downstream. We passed Long Creek on the west bank, and soon the Alt-17 bridge was coming into view. We paddled up the ramp at Jellico’s just to check it out. This is a private launch with a fee, so we had not considered it as one of our access points.
The bridge itself was covered in graffiti, sadly, a sign of this stretch’s popularity with tubers.
There were some lovely little cottages along this stretch. Back in Kelly’s Cove we had seen some small A-frame cottages. There were other small but elegant hideouts along this stretch.
The clouds were gathering, but we weren’t worried. We continued on with the current and before we knew it we were approaching Sullivan’s Landing. Like Givhan’s Ferry, this had also been the site of a ferry. It was a small landing but well kept.
With our side trips we traveled about 7.8 miles.
We all decided that this stretch is a keeper. It was a gorgeous day out on the river and had a fantastic time, despite the chill. I don’t know how the atmosphere would change with hundreds of tubers, but spring and fall would probably be perfect.
As usual, I made a time-lapse from the photos taken with the GoPro.
I took many more photos than shown here. They can be seen at this Flickr album.