Monday, March 29, 2010

Congaree National Park, SC


Congaree National Park preserves the largest remnant of old-growth floodplain forest remaining on the continent! Experience national and state champion trees, towering to record size amidst an astonishing array of plants and animals. In addition to being a designated Wilderness Area, an International Biosphere Reserve, a Globally Important Bird Area and a National Natural Landmark, Congaree is home to a museum quality exhibit area within the Harry Hampton Visitor Center, a 2.4 mile boardwalk loop trail and over 20 miles of backcountry hiking trails. The park also hosts a wide variety of guided walks, canoe tours, talks and presentations offered throughout the year (visit the Web site for more information). Other popular activities within the park include backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, birding, nature study and more! Before you embark on your adventures, stop by the Harry Hampton Visitor Center to pick up a map and brochure, watch the introductory film and get the latest information about conditions in the park.

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Post By:
Rich on 3/29/2010 8:35am
What a fantastic trip! Saturday eight of us, Eva, Tamas, Robin, Ginger, Heath, Sherm, Hunter, and I (Rich), paddled a 7-8 mile trip down the Cedar Creek through the park. We took a short diversion on Wise Lake half way through the trip. The water level was at 3.8 feet on the gage at noon. This was just a little below the ideal range of 4 to 7 feet. Consequently there were a few spots we encountered logs in our path. Sherm used his folding saw at a few points to make passage easier. At one point Tamas used the saw to open a spot which otherwise required a portage, much to the pleasure of the half of our group which had not already portaged and the troop of Boy Scouts in canoes behind us. There are numerous hiking trails in the park. At one foot bridge crossing, a collection of logs had formed a blockage. Sherm powered his way through and then threw a rope which he tied off so others could pull themselves through. As good a paddler as any of us, was Hunter who paddled near the front of the pack the whole way. He was a testiment of the paddling prowess of an outstanding 11 year old, and a source of pride for his dad, Sherm! Robin brazed the trail for us from the lunch stop on. Eva and Tamas paddled sweep, and of course full time photography duty. This time including video with their new miniature HD camera. Ginger used the skin-on-frame kayak she built, choosing to protect her kevlar kayak. Her SOF did very well even with all of the log scoot overs we did. This was Heath's virgin log hopping trip. Now he is ready to take on anything. The antient forest was a marvilous sight. At one point we spotted a Barred Owl.Interesting that we saw an owl during the day, after seeing none on the ranger lead owl walk Friday evening. We did hear a couple though. Thanks to Eva for signing us up for this 2.4 mile walk on the elevated boardwalk through the bottom lands. Ranger Corrine Fenner gave us interesting facts on this moon light night as we walked along. At one point she pointed out a 250 year old Loblolly Pine tree which rose over 150 feet tall. Earlier that day, having arrived ahead of the others, Heath and I did a short up and back paddle from the point that we were to do the take out on Saturday. We did not do any paddling down stream on Cedar Creek which eventually empties into the Congaree River.At the campsite everyone slept in tents except Heath, who had a pickup truck camper. We were all entertained at the campsite by Stella, Tama's robot cat, a new gift from Eva. (He gets lonely without his real cat.) All in all it was a great trip!Tips for Future Trips:A 27 mile trip including the section of Cedar Creek that we paddled, the remainder of the way to the Congaree River, and the Congaree River to Route 601, would make a good overnight paddle. This would be a two day trip, camping in the forest along the way. The only downside of this trip would be that no campfires are allowed in the forest.There was drinking water available at the Visitors Center. It did seem to have a lot of iron in it. In the future is would be best to take drinking and cooking water and just use the local water for washing dishes and the like. (Some of our group were astute enough to take good drinking water this time.)

Post By:
gingert on 3/29/2010 8:23am

This is a comment on what made this trip so the Congaree National Park so good and why all you CKCers should try to get there at least once: 1. An unusual destination. This was a huge bottomland forest with trees of awe-inspiring size including some national champions. Eva got us signed up for a owl prowl on Friday night. No owls, but in the moonlight we could see HUGE trees on our 2-mile walk on a boardwalk through the forest. One was a loblolly pine the ranger said was 156 feet tall. Its girth was enormous. On Sat. the stream we paddled -- Cedar Creek -- was a twisting blackwater creek that was scenic and a lot of fun. We blasted through a few logjams! And portaged one. 2. Nice people. Some of the Triangle regulars were there (is a trip really a trip unless Eva and Tamas are there?). It was nice to meet some new paddlers too. We had Heath from Charlotte and Sherman and his son Hunter from Goldsboro. And then there were the Boy Scouts from Charlotte -- not with CKC but seeming to follow us everywhere, from our campground to the put-in (where a canoe-load turned over while launching and a voice was heard to say, "Did you get that on video.?" and the answer was "Yes!" Also overheard: two Boy Scout dads at the put-in discussing Citibank, Deutschebank, and prospects for the financial markets in the near term. You can take an investment banker out of Charlotte but you can't take Charlotte out of the banker!)We had very cold weather Sat. morning -- possibly near freezing -- and light showers on Sunday morning. But Saturday was beautifully sunny and not windy, so we had great paddling weather. And we all made it home with smiles on our faces.Thanks to Rich who organized the whole thing. And for those of you who didn't make it, put this on your to-do list! (Just pay attention to water levels if you're going to paddle Cedar Creek.)Paddle on!Ginger

Brown Watersnake
Nerodia Taxispilota

Description: The brown watersnake is a large snake with dark brown, squarish blotches running down the center of its lighter brown back. This species has alternating rows of square blotches that run along its sides, thus resulting in somewhat of a checkerboard appearance. The belly coloration is variable but is usually a mottled brown color. The eyes and nostrils are situated near the top of the head making it easier for this snake to breath and see at the water’s surface. These snakes are commonly found during the daytime basking on tree branches overhanging the water, into which they escape if disturbed. Unfortunately, this escape strategy may land a brown watersnake into the boat of an unsuspecting fisherman.
Feeding/Diet: The brown watersnake feeds primarily on catfish and is sometimes found with the spines of catfish sticking out its body walls. Surprisingly, the spines eventually fall out and the snakes seem to recover from these “painful” meals.
Habitat/Range: Brown watersnakes are primarily found in rivers or large streams in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina; however, they do extend into the Piedmont along large river systems.
Reproduction: This species breeds from April to May, and females give birth to 15–50 young during late summer or early fall.
Miscellaneous: Like most other watersnakes, brown watersnakes are often mistakenly identified as cottonmouths and killed. When captured, these snakes, like other watersnakes, will bite repeatedly and emit a nasty smelling musk from their anal glands. Female brown watersnakes grow longer and much heavier than males. Although nonvenomous, the bite of a large, female brown watersnake can be quite painful.

congaree national park ,SC

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Monday, March 22, 2010

You’ve got to be pretty fearless to come out here!!


20th Annual Haw River Clean-Up March 20

Comprising over 70% of the Earths surface, water is undoubtedly the most precious natural resource that exists on our planet. Without the seemingly invaluable compound comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, life on Earth would be non-existent: it is essential for everything on our planet to grow and prosper. Although we as humans recognize this fact, we disregard it by polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Subsequently, we are slowly but surely harming our planet to the point where organisms are dying at a very alarming rate.In addition to innocent organisms dying off, our drinking water has become greatly affected as is our ability to use water for recreational purposes.

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