Wednesday, August 1, 2012
I had their link canoesc.com saved for two years before moving back to SC from NC. I had hoped that one day I would be able to take that 23 mile self-guided canoe trip down the Edisto River with an overnight stay in a tree house. The Edisto is one of the longest black water rivers in North America, winding 300 miles from its headwaters in Edgefield and Saluda counties to the Atlantic. I debate the black water, I would describe it as Charleston Tea colored. I took the wishing a step further a few weeks ago and contacted Anne Kennedy of Carolina Heritage Outfitters. I was instantly enamored with her sweet spirit through the airwaves. We set a date.
I had a few tummy flops when I thought about the experience for the next few weeks. I confess that on several occasions the soundtrack for the movie "Deliverance" interrupted my brain waves. And then there was the dream of Noah's Ark running aground emptying itself of every creature known to man on the Edisto River. Everything that goes bump into the night will be to the chagrin of my sweet husband who will go out to check it out in his skivvies with a flashlight, I began to pity him before we even left.
Renae vs Wild. Anyone that knows me, knows that this combination can lead to disastrous consequences, which is why I adore my husband for going through this with me. He knows full well that I can't stay in my house on dry land for 5 hours without getting hurt. Much less add a canoe, water, animals. Did I mention that we had never set foot into a canoe or kayak? The early morning ride to Carolina Heritage Outfitters at Edisto River, near Colleton County State park took us about 1 hour and 45minutes. My bladder refused to pass any establishment that would have a restroom. I knew it would be days before I would see another.
We arrived and met Anne and Scott Kennedy. I instinctively knew that they are very interesting people. I could see myself sitting on the banks of the Edisto talking past sundown getting to know them. We also had the pleasure of meeting their friend and our transport guide Steve Bond. Steve and his wife are mural artist and have painted many surrounding establishments which you can view at BiBondArtsonline.com
Sitting outside the Carolina Heritage Outfitters rustic building on benches, Anne explained our map and gave us basic river information. All of the equipment needed for the trip was clean and well maintained. We picked up our paddles and loaded the canoe with our cooler and backpack. Steve drove us 23 miles upstream to put in. Once there, I spied with my eye, another restroom! I scampered up the hill while Don and Steve carried the canoe to the landing.
When I came back we took a crash course on canoeing safety and paddling. I got into the front of the canoe. I assumed that was the part pointed towards the water. Hubby said his laugh of the day was how fast I put on my lifejacket. And then we pushed off! The river travels at a speed of about 2 miles an hour. Stopping at a sandbar about halfway, we ate our Pimento Cheese sandwiches, gulped water and rested.
We were guided the first 10 miles by a blue heron that we named Ichabob Crane. Every single time Don would pull out the camera he flew away. My favorite raptor, a beautiful Red Tailed Hawk crossed our path several times and I was pleased to be the transport for many dragonfly's along the way. Turtles plopped from fallen logs and large fish splashed as they came up for the surface bugs. There were challenges. Trees down, running aground on sandbars and river bed rock and a few narrow passageways. I found out quickly that this wasn't a lazy river. I was proud of our decision making and quick responses to obstacles. 5 1/2 hours after entry we arrived at our tree house. The tree houses are adorable and rustic. We spent the evening in a large hammock under the tree canopy and later up above watching the river flow by from the patio deck of the tree house. The tree houses’ are equipped with a propane grill outside and propane cookers inside, all utensils, dishes and cookware. Propane is provided. Let me tell you that was the best cheeseburger and can of baked beans I have ever eaten! Nice Tiki torch lights are affixed to the patio railings and give a sense of primitive peace in the evening. There was no need for me to worry about sounds that go bump in the night. I was totally gone within minutes of lying down for evening. At sunrise I awoke and started gathering things for our journey back. I sat quietly on the deck of the tree house watching the river sluice quietly by. It is Sunday, my favorite day of the week. One of my first thoughts that morning was that I was worshipping in my creator's most reverent service. About five miles downriver, I had the most incredible experience. We hit a calm, clear patch and paddled gently, letting the river take us for a bit. The sound will reverberate for the rest of my life in my audio harddrive. Faintly at first, my ears leaned in and I quit paddling. A church organ in the distance wafted through the trees, it was surreal. The song was "Softly and Tenderly"
We pulled into the landing at Carolina Heritage Outfitters in good time, four hours. Scott greeted us and we talked about the river and our trip for a bit before Anne joined us. Scott and Anne are dedicated to the preservation of our natural resources. I consider it a privilege to have participated in this watery path with them, even for this short stay. To book your own adventure on the Edisto with Carolina Heritage Outfitters, go to canoesc.com
Now, as the novice adventurer, these are my layman's terms to describe the level of difficulty of the canoeing experience. Rated from a 1 being the least difficult to a 3 being the most.
If the extent of your daily exercise is walking to and from frig, lifting your TV remote, chewing food and walking to mailbox.... the level of difficulty will be a three.
If you occasionally ride your bike, walk a treadmill, take beach strolls, like jigsaw puzzles and problem solving...the level of difficulty will be a 2.
If you tramp through woods without snake boots, love the feel of mud squishing between your toes, could fit all your gear for two days in a breadbox. Hello Daniel Boone, the level of difficulty for you is a 1.