Edisto River, South Carolina, July 2002
After many missed opportunities, I finally got my chance to paddle part of the Edisto River. All of South Carolina has been in an extensive drought, and we arrived at Colleton State Park to find the Edisto several feet low. But the river is fairly wide, and was still deep enough for kayaks.
After meeting at the park, we headed to an obscure take-out off SSR 695, a dirt road. There we left my truck and headed up to the put-in next to Highway 21. They have a private put-in there and it costs a couple bucks to park and use the ramp.
We were soon ready for the water. We had a good group of six kayakers. The water was nice and cool, a great contrast to the sticky hot air. We passed under the 21 bridge and started cruising the river under a hazy sky. A slow current helped us along. Occasionally it would get very shallow and we'd have a tiny rapid to surf.
This section was not the most remote, as we saw little river bungalows pretty regularly, but there were plenty of places where we had the river to ourselves. The banks were tree-lined and usually sandy. Some of these banks were steep dunes.
Sean did a lot of looking around for snakes at the beginning, but we came up "dry" on this trip. We did see several turtles and the occasional egret or heron, but I think the hot weather kept the wildlife quiet.
We stopped for lunch about a third of the way down. It was a great spot under some shade trees on a sandbar. After we ate, we broke the rules and jumped right in the river. We didn't do much swimming though...mainly just cooling off in the flow. The current moved with a lot of force and we had to set just right to stay in one place. After a couple minutes I noticed little nibbles on my fingers, dangling under the water. I had attracted a sizeable array of minnows who had decided I was edible. They expanded their range to my elbows and stomach, tickling. I thought I might catch one since they were so close, but had no luck.
A couple times we arrived at sections where the river went two ways. Each time, some of us went each way, finding shortcuts in places and detours in others. We found another sandbar for another swim. This time I must have attracted fifty of the little fish. At the edge of the sandbar, the water dropped off into a dark murk. I dived down and found it went nearly 15 feet down, so close to the shallow 3 feet of the bar.
Near the end we passed the cool treehouse kept by Carolina Heritage Outfitters. That would be a fun place to spend a night or two. It's near the sign with the paddle sticking out of it.
I was happy to find my truck undisturbed at the take-out, and I even got a chance to use my truck's four-wheel drive to climb the sandy boat "ramp." This was a great trip, and worth the long round trip from Greenwood.
We did approximately 15 miles down the river. The river was so twisty that it was only 8 miles between the endpoints. I wanted to make a map of this trip, but it has become difficult to get free USGS maps on the Internet. So I'll save it for a later date. In the meantime, you can download the GPS data, or see the put-in and take-out marked on maps at TopoZone.