I really wanted to get out on the water. It was a beautiful day, but storms were predicted for the afternoon, so a morning paddle would have to do. That meant selecting from one of the many short-paddle options nearby. I had been threatening to introduce Ken Cothran to kayaking, so I decided to pick him up and head to Lake Hartwell. Specifically, we would be launching from Lawrence Bridge on the Keowee River branch of the lake and exploring some of the coves nearby.
Lawrence Bridge is located on one of the upper reaches of Lake Hartwell. From this point we would have a several options. We could head southward and explore the cove heading toward the Issaqueena Dam. We could stay on the main route and explore upstream on the Keowee River. Or, we could take the Little River spur and head toward the town of Newry. I’d made that last trip once before with Houston, and I thought it would probably be out of reach for us today.
When we arrived we had the boat ramp to ourselves. We unloaded the boats and parked the truck. As we were getting ready to launch, a bass boat arrived, ready to take out. I gave Ken some preliminary instructions, he made an awkward entry into the kayak, and I pushed him out and got him underway quicker than I might have liked.
We stayed off to the side, for two reasons. First, so that Ken could get accustomed to controlling to the kayak, but mainly so that the bass boat would clear. We headed toward the eponymous bridge and crossed underneath. From there we headed to a small cove on the far bank.
We explored the little cove a bit, admiring the mountain laurel in bloom on the banks. It looked like the cove might have been fed by a stream. However, there was too much debris for us to explore further.
Ken was feeling more confident with controlling the boat. However, he wasn’t up to exploring the Keowee or Little Rivers. We headed back under the bridge with the intent of exploring the Issaqueena cove. We paddled along the western shore of the lake, heading in that direction.
The cove back into Issaqueena is about 0.75 miles from Lawrence Bridge. The cove first curves left, then there is a sharp bend right. Once you round that bend the dam is right there in front of you.
I love the sound of running water, and it was peaceful back in the cove. I could have just hung out there the rest of the afternoon. However, it wasn’t always this peaceful. The dam, which backs up Wildcat Creek to form Lake Issaqueena, was built by the WPA in 1934. In 1942 the lake and surrounding area was used as a practice bombing range for the Greenville Army Air Base (now Donaldson Center.) In 1954 the lake was drained and hundreds of practice bombs (sand-filled) were removed from the lake bed. The lake and surrounding land are now part of the Clemson Experimental Forest.
The flow over the lake was gentle, and there was no turbulence at the bottom of the dam. I could paddle right up to it.
It was time to head back. We left the cove and crossed to the south bank of the lake for the return trip. Here there were several docks with houses hidden back in the forests above. One in particular was quite elaborate.
We continued on this side of the lake and made it back to the boat landing at the bridge.
We had only been on the water a couple of hours, and our route was a short 2.75 miles, but it was a good morning’s paddling trip. Here are the rest of the photos from the trip.