In these lazy days of summer, it's so much more enjoyable paddling a river that does half the work for you. To that end, the folks at Palmetto Conservation Foundation organized a trip last weekend on the Edisto River, a pristine winding waterway with a two- to four-mile-per-hour current.
The plan was to travel 6 miles of the Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Trail from Mas Old Field Landing to Givhans Ferry State Park. Having never paddled this section of the blackwater river, I was eager to compare the surrounding terrain with the cypress and tupelo swamps found upriver.
We met up at the state park in Ridgeville at 10 a.m. and carpooled to the put-in at Mile 39.1 of the canoe trail. With the water level low, the river was narrow and the current swift. We had to pay close attention to keep from being pushed into overhanging willow branches or a tree trunk that had fallen in the water.
It didn't take long before the river widened and we could relax and let the current take us along. As we made our way downriver, we passed fishermen wading in the water, several families floating on tubes and a couple cooling off by the river bank. In the more shallow areas, the water was barely knee deep.
On past trips on the Edisto, I've paddled the stretch of river some 30 miles upstream near Colleton State Park. Part of the 350,000-acre Ace Basin, it is surrounded by beautiful swamplands. This was a totally different, but equally beautiful and serene scene. The woods on either side of the river were thick with pine, oaks draped in Spanish moss and towering cypress trees.
We stopped for lunch and a much-needed dip in the drink about an hour and a half into the trip. I didn't realize how fast the current was moving until one of my fellow paddlers got in the water and was immediately swept downstream. Fortunately, the water level was so low, she had no trouble swimming back to shore when she was sufficiently refreshed.
We arrived at Givhans Ferry State Park about an hour later. The park's large sandy beach provided us another opportunity to cool off in the river before heading home.
Click here for more information on Palmetto Conservation Foundation or its upcoming excursions, or call (803) 771-0870.