Friday, October 9, 2009

Dreher Island State Park S.C. Part IV

One final post on South Carolina’s Dreher Island State Park before leaving. If you missed the earlier posts, click here for Part I, here for Part II, and here for Part III.

Today is the last full day of camping at the Park. Conditions couldn’t be better. Typical South Carolina fall weather. Temperatures in the mid-70s, sunny, with a light wind.

Well, the wind off the lake was just a little strong throughout the morning hours for kayaking. Not that the Expedition kayak would have minded. But I anticipated arm-tiring – well, torso-tiring, if there is such a word – paddling for at least half of the trip, and decided to wait. By mid-afternoon, the wind had calmed to five miles per hour, or so, and off I went.

(click photos for larger images)

GPS Track The plan today was a paddle around the whole state park. A distance of just about five miles, according to the MapSource program on this laptop.

So, down to the shore of the lake here at site # 16, again carrying the inflated boat. This time I made sure to remove everything to reduce weight. That made a more comfortable carry. Not anything I’d want to do for miles on end. Or even for an eighth-mile, truth be told! But certainly manageable for short distances.

After loading water, snacks, and an assortment of safety gear adequate to flutter the heart of the strictest scout master, I was off around 2:20 p.m. Again, I’ve marked the put-in and take-out point with a black arrow on the map.

Digital image  Here’s a shot of yet another of those alluring islands from the water. This Vivitar waterproof camera certainly performs better with plenty of light. Though from time to time I snap photos with it, confident of a good shot, and nothing appears on the chip!

That’s exactly what happened today as I paddled by the Park’s “villas.” I mentioned them briefly in an earlier post, if memory serves, with the hope of getting a proper photo before leaving. Well, I took several from the kayak. Risking the ire of villa residents watching from their windows.

Digital image  Only one came through! This one of the dock reserved exclusively for villa residents. Too bad, since they are nice, if somewhat expensive, units. Where “campophobics” could comfortably begin to work on their problem.

Digital image  Here’s another shot of the bigger boats left permanently at the Marina’s dock. This time with more light. Some of them are beautiful. But I’ll stick to my little kayak. Who was it who described boats as holes in the water into which we dump money? Well, if that’s so, the Expedition certainly creates a smaller hole!

Digital image  As you see on the map at the top of this post, the water narrows considerably here and there between the islands of the Park and the shore. Power boats traveling from one section of the lake to another through these narrow areas often slow when they see a kayak or canoe. But not always.

Fortunately, this kayak has no difficulty managing the resulting waves. Even big ones. I’ve been surprised at how easy it is to control the boat under such conditions. Even for an inexperienced paddler.

Digital image  After three-quarters of an hour or so, I found myself at the end of the Park’s main island. And was surprised to see a large sign advertising the Park’s facilities to passing boaters. Undoubtedly the work of an enterprising Park manager who hoped to raise revenue at the Marina store.

The sign must be a welcome sight for boaters caught without map or GPS, wondering where they are. It’s easy to get lost on this lake without a map, given its convoluted shoreline. Anyway, there’s the sign. A little weathered. But still pointing the way. Now, why did they have to mention ice cream!

Digital image  Further on around the main island, not far from the villas mentioned above, I spotted another sign, this one warning boaters of power lines crossing the lake. Though I didn’t see any power lines. A little ways back up from the shore there was a tall power line poll, reaching well above the treetops. It appeared to be no longer used.

Look in the photo at the very top of the pole. Right where the arrow points. A huge bird’s nest. Not large, now, but huge!

I didn’t see any birds in the area large enough to build such a nest. Though I’m no bird expert, but that nest looked very much like the bald eagle nests I’ve seen on the islands at Lake Monticello. Those nests, however, were better hidden in the trees rather than exposed like this one. Perhaps someone will recognize the nest and set us straight with a comment.

Digital image  Paddling on, after the unsuccessful effort to photograph the villas, I came upon that small island described in an earlier post. This time I avoided the shore, for fear of again offending the resident great blue heron. They raise such an indignant fuss as they flap away on huge wings, with necks outstretched and legs dangling behind. Quite a sight. But they do have to eat. No “catch-and-release” fishing in heron-land!

Digital image  Here on the right of the kayak is the Park’s Visitor’s Center. Again, not far from the area set aside for the villas. And the small island connected to the Center by an attractive wooden bridge and walkway. There were several picnic tables on the island last time I visited. A nice touch.

This whole Park is full of nice places like that. Where visitors can relax and enjoy their natural surrounding in relative comfort.

Well, almost done circumnavigating the Park. The GPS indicates I’ve been paddling for only about an hour and forty-five minutes. Hardly enough time.

Digital image  So, instead of heading straight back under the bridge and to the site, I detoured to inspect the unusual sight you see in the photo above. Several trees sticking up out of the water quite a distance from shore!

Now, it’s not unusual to see the trunks and limbs of long-dead trees sticking out of the water here and there. But rarely this far from the shore. And these trees appeared to be flourishing!

I paddled closer and discovered protective wire mesh around the trunk of each tree. Extending from the base up to just above the water line. So, someone must be taking care of them. Could it be the trees have been planted purposely to warn boaters of the shallow water in that area? If so, what a great idea. They’re impossible to miss!

I’ll pack up and leave Dreher Island State Park late tomorrow morning. It’s always good to get back home after a camping trip. But I certainly hope to return here to enjoy the lake, the hiking trails, and this Park’s other facilities. Dreher Island State Park is another state treasure.


  1. I just got to a location of good internet service and was able to read your last four posts. Excellent blogging and gentle prodding about the campaphobics. Your coverage of the parks might make them get a lot more crowded in the future.
    Are we competing in the having tooooo much fun catagory?

  2. Thanks for looking at the posts, Barney. "Campophobics" to date have received little attention in the United States and Europe, and virtually no support. Research grants should be written! A visit to South Carolina's state parks could be worked into the recovery program.

    Nah, I know better than to try to compete with you in the toooooo much fun category. You've got it down to a science!


  3. Seems like you are enjoying retired life old man. My envy--but next Thursday I head out to California for a week that includes a visit with my daughter near Lake Tahoe, good fishing in smaller lakes and a 40th anniv. stop in San Francisco! Take care

  4. Ospreys build surprisingly large nests on posts such as the one pictured.

  5. Thanks, Linda and Denny, for the osprey tip. A few other viewers have suggested that is an osprey rather than bald eagle nest. AND, I did see ospreys in the area. Must be.