South Carolina like we hadn’t imagined

(Dear reader, in case you hadn’t heard, Steven and I have left our home on Penobscot Bay for a camping trip of our own. If you’re not interested, page down a few posts and everything will be devoted to Life in Searsport; in the meantime, we’ll be traveling for a while and wanted to keep Bob and our friends updated on our travels.)

Hi Bob,

We’ve kept the promise we made to ourselves when we left Searsport…we haven’t let 48 hours go by without at least a 6 mile hike to allows us to explore the area we traveled through…mostly the weather has been cooperative and today was no exception…we had a gorgeous time driving through the South Carolina Lowlands from the Congaree Forest to Charleston.

Last night we slept in a little town where all we could find to eat (other than a couple of chain restaurants) was a bit of local food at the Piggly Wiggly…so we hit the road early with the intention of walking through some of the vast National Forest Lands along the Barrier Islands…but first we had soul food and BBQ in Santee at the Lone Star Barbeque and Mercantile

…if you find yourself in this direction, go out of your way to arrive hungry!  We ate mounds of smoked and tangy pork barbecue, crispy fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, creamy sweet potatoes so rich they could easily have qualified for dessert and tomato pie slathered with mayonnaise…really, how do South Carolinans stay healthy?  The veggies are from local farmers and everything is cooked on site and served through an all-you-can-eat buffet…with as much fresh iced tea as you’d care to drink…yup, we needed a serious hike (or maybe a nap) after that meal!

We took the back road to Sewee Visitor Center in the middle of the 4 National Refuges…258,000 acres of public lands just twenty miles North of Charleston.  There we saw red wolves…three of only about 100 left in the world.  Happily they have begun breeding in captivity with numbers large enough to start re-introducing them to their natural habitats.

Originally red wolves were common throughout the Southeastern United States but hunting and habitat loss brought them to the brink of extinction.  We were pleased to see these animals looking healthy and content, and the rangers explained that there were hopes of pups in the near future.

Quick change of subject…have you sat on a Joggle Board before?  I had not.  The Sewee Visitor’s Center had one at the entrance and a little plaque to explain that it’s purpose was to relax and entertain…so I sat down, enjoyed a snickers bar and played…check it out and expect to find one at Searsport Shores before long…Steven promises to add one somewhere along the walking trails by the stream.

After walking the 1+mile boardwalk we backtracked a few miles and visited the shell mounds.  The Yourhikes website wasn’t particularly glowing in their recommendation:  This is a loop hike that visits two ancient Indian sites that date back 4000 years. Hurricane Hugo devastated this area in 1989, and a wildfire ravaged the downed timber two years later in 1991. You can still see the remnants of the fire. The loop trail starts in the recovering coastal wood, then breaks out into the salt marsh on occasion with views to the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway. It is a pleasant and interesting hike along the coast. Some other notes:

– the hike is flat as a pancake – very easy
– the main trail is a loop with two spurs leading to Indian sites. Backtrack from the spurs to the main loop.
– at both the Oyster Shell Ring and Clam Shell Mound there were hundreds of tiny crabs roaming the ground (that disappeared into tiny holes when I approached). My dog would have freaked out if I had him with me. The ground was moving with every step I took.
– I would not want to hike this area in the summer – too buggy – take insect repellent in warm weather
– the views out to the Intracoastal Waterway are very pretty, grassy flat area with the waterway in the background
– the Forest Service has placed somewhat worn but very informative trail signs on the route explaining details on the route and the Indian sites

Of course, our Maine beaches are littered with shell middens so we weren’t particularly motivated to see a pile of oyster remains but the ranger assured us that we wouldn’t be disappointed…this is what we saw:

Peace...as defined by the dictionary

There’s a prediction of rain in the near future so if that’s the case, we’ll visit Charleston and then drive straight through to Florida…we’ll write again soon.
Astrig & Steve

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