Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dreher Island State Park, S.C. Part III

This is the third entry on Dreher Island State Park. If you missed earlier posts,
Click here for Part I, and Click here for Part II

Rain ended late this morning. Even the drizzle. Though a threatening cloud cover remained throughout the day. Ever the cautious kayak paddler, I waited until nearly 3:30 p.m. to confirm the weather wasn’t about to change. Then inflated the kayak for a short paddle in the general area of the Park.

Rather than drive as usual to a nearby boat ramp, this time I took advantage of the campsite’s inviting shoreline. Allowing me to assemble and inflate the Expedition right beside the car. And then to carry the ready-for-water boat the short distance to the shoreline. A considerable saving of time and effort.

Now, at 13 feet with its aluminum internal framing, solid inflation chambers, and thick outer skin, the Expedition is no featherweight! It’s manageable for short-distance shoulder carry, though, with paddles and safety gear removed.

091006 Paddle Route By 4:00 p.m. I was on the water, setting the GPS to record the trip. Here’s a map that shows the resulting track. Click it for a larger image.

The black arrow points to the beginning and end point at the shore of Campsite # 16. Total time on the water, according to the GPS, was 92 minutes. With distance traveled just 4.2 miles.

That indicates an average speed of around 3 miles per hour. Now, I don’t paddle to set records. Good thing too, given the limitations of age and experience! But it is nice to know that this inflatable kayak will chug along for some distance at a respectable 3 miles per hour with no special effort.

That brings longer, more interesting, trips within easy reach. One of these days I’ll devote a blog entry to the kayak. Including construction, assembly and inflation, and experience paddling.

This bring-along kayak really has expanded opportunities to see new things and to learn more about the environment.

Digital image  Shorelines look quite different, naturally, from the water. Here’s an overcast view of the campground from a ways out.

And it’s possible in a boat to get close to interesting areas of land near-impossible to reach on foot. That’s especially true for swampy or marshy areas. Where wildlife nearly always is more interesting.

Digital image  Here’s a gloomy view of one of the several boat ramps maintained by the Park, and the Marina Store.

Digital image  And here, just a short ways down the island is the Marina dock where folks keep boats too large to transport to and from home every time they want to be on the water. Quite a different boating experience, I imagine, from my little kayak! Look at the size of them!

Digital image  The peninsula of land occupied by Dreher Island State Park actually is several individual islands. Connected now by bridges, large and small. Here’s one of the smaller bridges, just behind the Marina. There isn’t much room between the piers for boats to pass through. But it’s no problem for this kayak.

Digital image  Now, what is it that makes small islands in a lake so fascinating? Is it long-held memories of reading “Treasure Island” and similar books as children? Or is it just basic human nature? For whatever reason, I find it hard to pass up an opportunity to paddle out and around the islands in this and similar lakes.

The small island above is about halfway across the lake from the Park’s Visitor Center. It’s actually bigger than it looks in the photo. But still, there’s little on it beyond birds and turtles. Oh, and a campsite that appears to get repeat visitors.

Digital image  Here’s a view of the other side of the island. If you look carefully, at the tip of the black arrow, you’ll see an indignant great blue heron. Irritated by this strange interloper rousting him from his perch overlooking the water.

Digital image  Once around the first small island, I made a bee line for a second, similar island toward the north. It too is far too small to support wildlife beyond birds and turtles. But it does have one, and possibly two, regularly used campsites.

Digital image  And it has one unusual feature. At least one I’ve never before seen. A large, established tree growing right at the edge of the water. Defying winds, waves, and dampness. Thriving, by the looks of it. An interesting sight.

With clouds becoming ever more ominous, I decided two islands was enough for one paddle. And I headed straight back toward campsite # 16 and the Aliner.

Take-out at the shoreline of the campsite was uneventful. I carried the kayak back up to the car, and left it there upside down, assembled and inflated. Tomorrow’s weather, according to NOAA, should allow another paddle. That’s the hope, anyway.

Click here for the fourth and final post on Dreher Island S.P.

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