Not only was it a second Saturday and time for another Lowcountry Unfiltered kayak trip, but this month we were set to repeat one of our legendary treks – running the Edisto River from Mars Old Field Landing to Messervy Landing. We’ve come to refer to this as our “beer commercial” trip. It’s always a trip with rope swings, lazy river paddling, home brewed beer, and lots of wildlife.
However, we wouldn’t be alone on the river. According to the Edisto Floaters Facebook page, this was also supposed to be the day for their “Megafloat”. From the description, it was supposed to be bank-to-bank inner tubes. Part of the discussion on their page was that singles should wear a red shirt to advertise their availability. Sounded like things could get very interesting on the river.
As usual I headed down Friday evening so that I wouldn’t have to get up so early Saturday morning. After a fitful night’s sleep, I got up early anyway and headed down to Messervy Landing, arriving at about 7:30. I had the place to myself, but I knew this very spot would be a zoo later. John Nelson arrived sometime later. We loaded my gear into his vehicle, left my car at the take-out, then went to meet the others at Mars Old Field Landing.
The put-in was just as deserted. John and I got our gear ready, and soon the others arrived. There would be six of us – a small group for such an epic journey. In addition to myself and John Nelson, we were joined by John Ring, Matt Richardson, James Brown, and Jonathan Buffet. Once again, we sounded like a gathering of disciples – James, John, John, Matthew and Thomas, with the addition of a Jonathan.
We got underway with mostly sunny skies, but with a few clouds. It looked like a beautiful day on the river, but that would change. According to trip reports, the river had been down. Now, though, it was flowing high and fast with the recent rains.
Just a few hundred yards from the put-in is the first rope swing, and arguably, one of the best ones on the river. Of course, we had to stop.
The miles went by quickly with the swift current. Even though it was early, we started sipping on beer and eating boiled peanuts. This was, of course, a leisurely float.
We found a nice beach for our first break. There was a shelter with swings, but we just occupied the beach.
As we were relaxing, a small boat came roaring past. It’s wake washed over our kayaks and swamped Matt’s open boat. We all broke out bilge pumps to try to empty his boat.
When we got underway and just around the corner, the boat came roaring back. I was afraid they wouldn’t see our boats out in the narrow channel. I was able to flagged them down with the boating sign to slow down.
We found one channel that opened up to the west and decided to follow it. Normally the water is too low for us to get very far up this channel, but this time the paddling was clear. However, the smell got worse as we got further into the channel. We decided to turn back before we ran into open sewage.
After we returned to the main channel the rain started. The clouds came up quickly, and soon large drops where hitting the river, but it didn’t last very long.
We found one more rope swing, and we started to see a few tubers out and about. I think the weather was keeping most in.
At this point we were looking for a place to stop for lunch. Matt found the perfect beach at a deep bend in the river. However, there were lots of houses nearby and the beach seemed occupied. The Posted signs were another turn-off. We decided to continue down the river.
Unfortunately, with the river this high, the beaches we normally find were under water. It was about another mile downstream before we found a suitable beach, just around the corner from the entrance to Four Holes Swamp.
Finding the perfect place for lunch was crucial. Matt had brought his camp stove, skillet, and several packages of bratwurst and buns. We got set up and started cooking. Two cans of Bud Light were sacrificed as cooking medium for the brats. Unfortunately, the rain started back up while cooking, but we were able to shelter the stove with an umbrella John brought.
The result was pure heaven on a bun. Each of us hungrily downed three of them, washed down with some hard cider James brought with him.
As we relaxed after lunch the rain came down in earnest. We were thoroughly soaked. As usual, we broke out the Frisbee and water guns, as if we weren’t wet enough already. After all, we had to wait for Matt’s stove and pan to cool down.
The rain let up a bit and we decided to get back underway. We decided to explore just a bit of Four Holes Swamp. At this point I had a ferocious headache starting up, so I stopped under Wire Road Bridge in the shade while the others paddled on up into the swamp for a bit.
The reprieve from the rain was brief. It started dumping again. We took what refuge we could under overhanging limbs. Fortunately, there was no thunder and lightening. However, this trip has taught me a lesson. I will ALWAYS have a cheap poncho with me. No matter how beautiful the day may start out, it can change quickly.
The high marl banks on the east shore of the river mean we’re getting close to Givhen’s Ferry. In the past this was our take-out point, but for some reason we’ve starting padding on down to Messervy. The park was crowded with families enjoying the cool water, despite the rain.
On the bank opposite the state park are two rope swings. Of course, our group had to test both of these. We had passed up several other swings in the last several miles, an act Matt said confirmed our status as “rope swing snobs.” However, we soon learned where true talent lies. Some of the young kids from the park showed us how it was supposed to be done.
We continued on our way, under the highway 61 bridge and on to the last stretch to Messervy. John Ring and I had paddled ahead, and we spotted fireworks downstream. There was a stationary float party mid-river. As we passed they shot at us with water guns. We returned fire with our water cannons. They turned out to be nice, friendly folks, and we chatted for a bit. When Matt came by he stopped and made lots of friends. I think we might have even picked up a new paddler for future trips.
We encountered more float parties along this stretch, but nothing that approached “mega-float” status. We’ve seen more floats out here on a normal day. It must have been the weather, which decided to give us one more dumping before we reached the end.
About a mile above the take-out is a wide sandy beach where the tubers pull up and party. We decided that it would be a good place to stop, too. We pulled out the Frisbee and other toys and splashed about in the water while watching others try out standup paddle boards nearby.
It was getting late, so reluctantly we loaded back up and headed out. We passed a few more floaters. There were a few of the true “float bubba” variety, but for the most part the folks we passed were friendly, and just out having a good time like we were. That changed when we got to the take-out, though. Apparently all the float bubbas had finished up early, and were taking over Messervy Landing. Fortunately, deputy sheriffs were there to maintain control.
Despite the rain it was a fantastic trip. The food was par excellence, and we had an absolute blast. Now I know why we do this each year. The trip was long – 13.4 miles, but it was worth it.
Here’s a slideshow of my photos from the trip…
…and here are John Ring’s photos. I’ll post Matt’s when it gets them uploaded.