Wednesday, June 15, 2011
1. 427 miles paddled
2. 9 portages walked (adding a few more miles to the total)
3. 15 new friends (who helped us out along the way and signed our paddle) made
4. 26 nights in a tent/hammock slept
5. 2 Service-Learning projects completed
6. 386 beer cans from the river or camp fire rings removed
7. 1 "Air Jordan" sneaker found
8. 15 riddles answered
9. 274 jokes told
10. 221 jokes at which we laughed "BOOberry!"
11. 48 meals on an MSR Whisperlite Stove cooked
12. Countless - memories of a lifetime made!
It's difficult to summarize an expedition like this in a short list, or in a one-word answer. It's a challenge to tell others "how it went" unless they are willing to spend some time listening a few of the vignettes I've been telling. I started this expedition out by saying that the group which leaves on day 1 will not be the same group which returns to Boone; and this has become true. Somewhere and in someway this group changed, for the better. I have invited the students who joined us on the trip to share their post-trip reflections on this blog and will share them with you as I get them. The trip may be complete but the stories remain to be told.
Thanks for reading and following along, yours in adventure
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
This morning, we woke up and watched the sun rise over the Atlantic with hot drinks and oatmeal: just enough to fuel our paddle to our take-out. Along the way, we we accompanied by a pod of dolphins in the Intracoastal Waterway to the boat ramp where we met up with our van, loaded up and drove into Georgetown for a delicious lunch. At our riverfront restaurant, Buzz's Roost, we had our final reflections and shared memories we had of each member of the expedition over the past 30 days. After a stop in the ice cream shop next door, we piled back into the van and are now currently headed back up the mountain. The change of daily routine that begins tomorrow will absolutely be a shock for us, but that just means that a new adventure shouldn't be too far down the road as we head our seperate ways for the rest of the summer.
The feeling that yesterday was the culmination of all our hard work for the past month was apparent in our eagerness to see the crashing waves of the ocean as we made our last turn at Santee Point. The realization of where we had just arrived didn't really sink in until we had landed our boats on the beach, stripped off all our kayaking gear and sprinted into the cool salt water. We had finally done it! We were pitching our tents for the final time where the waterway that provided a highway for us this past month flows out into the ocean. The horseflies, as persistent and annoying they had been previously, actually provided some entertainment in how many could you swat in a single hand slap. There were also fresh turtle crawls at our beach and nests marked and covered by the local marine biology establishment.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Same routine as usual today, and we are 35 miles closer to the ocean. Today's paddling was a great example of how far we're able to go with an early start, well-placed breaks, and excellent weather. Having a nice overcast sky for the first half of the day was a welcome cchange from the blazing hot sun we've experienced so much of. There are now even more clear signs of the coast, yet no salty taste in the air or water. We did see an 8 or 9 foot alligator that, according to it's swim path, swam right underneath Alex and Hutch. Our total alligator count since Lake Marion is somewhere between 4 and 6 (varying reports).
Tomorrow morning, we make our final 20 mile push to the ocean and complete one of the objectives that we set out from G.Father Mountain with. We are all expecting to witness some inspired paddling tomorrow as the salt smell of the Atlantic starts to fill the air.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Today was, without question, one of the more epic days of our paddle to the ocean. We had a little taste of everything ranging from hot temperatures, high mileage, early mornings, awesome lunch spots, challenging portages, generosity of people we run in to, and beautiful sunsets as we set up camp for the night.
A 4am wake-up time meant that we'd be able to cover a good bit of our mileage for the day as the sun was just rising. Eventually, we had to make our open-water push across Lake Marion to a beach that had plenty of cypress trees to hammock from for lunch. After our siesta, it was time for the very last portage of the trip: the Santee Dam. Carrying our boats up the steep rocky embankment was characteristic of the easy portage we were all hoping for. Fortunately, we had a very pleasant encounter that resulted in having our boats driven to our put in on the other side. After putting back onto the water, we paddled a few more miles to our campsite for the night; possibly one of the best sites of the trip.
And yes, there are alligators.
Ocean in 3 days!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
We pulled into camp early tonight due to information that between this area and Santee State Park, where we are headed tomorrow, there aren't many campable spots. The map has the area surrounding the river labeled as "swamp," which is definitely believable. The change of pace from canoeing lakes and passing houses and cities to sea kayaking through rivers surrounded by subtropical forest is really quite amazing.