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Palmetto Paddlers Trip Reports

 

TRIP PARTICIPATION POLICY

Trip participation requires a signed release. Participants must contact the trip leader or sign up at a regularly scheduled meeting. Participants are required to know their abilities and make their own decisions with regard to the trips taken. These are not "guided" or "outfitted" trips. Participants must be properly equipped for the trip chosen. PFDís must be worn on all trips. On whitewater trips, participants must furnish properly outfitted (with flotation) whitewater craft and helmets must be worn. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent at all times unless the trip leader makes an exception in the leaderís sole discretion. CAUTION: Paddling is dangerous and rivers vary on every trip. You are responsible for your own trip decisions. Trip summaries are for your convenience and cannot be relied upon to be accurate on any given day or for purposes of determining safety on a river.

 

Sparkleberry Swamp

On December 11, 1999, a group of us went to Sparkleberry Swamp, near Lake Marion. The water was low but we had a good time. It is a very easy cypress swamp to get lost in. The water was low. We put in at Sparkleberry Landing, which is off of Highway 51 in Sumter County. The turn to the landing is a right turn on a dirt road if you are heading south on Road 51. The turn is about 4.5 miles south of the junction of Road 51 and Road 261, approximately 2.5 miles south of Poinsett State Park. There is a boat landing and good parking. The stage was 74.08 for the Santee River at Trezesvants Landing Near Fort Motte at 10:00 on December 11, 1999.This gauge is on the other side of the Santee River in Calhoun County above Sparkleberry Landing. The water was, in my opinion, about the minimum water level for a pleasant trip. Though we did not see any gators, the largest alligator recorded in South Carolina was 13 feet, 1 inch. A poacher killed it more than a decade ago in Sparkleberry Swamp. The mounted remains of this animal are now on display at the S.C. State Museum in Columbia.

 

Lake Marion

The trip to Lake Marion on September 25, 1999, was a good trip on a hot, bright day. We put in at the Santee Indian Mound/Fort Watson location in the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. Kyle led the trip north up Lake Marion and into Cantey Bay (Map). We stopped to eat lunch on a sandy beach in Cantey Bay. After lunch, we finished a circumnavigation of Persanti Island and then back to the starting point. Birdlife was plentiful. In particular, we saw a large number of White Ibis feeding in the cypress swamps. The kids on the trip, Sara Hunter and Kelsy Altman, had a great time playing with the kayaks on this protected water. We spent the night at Santee State Park and ate dinner at Dukeís Barbecue in Elloree. It was a clear, beautiful night with Mars prominent in the sky.

 

Augusta Canal

On August 5, 2000, Steve Soltys led a trip on the Augusta Canal. Designated a National Heritage area in 1996, constructed in 1845 and enlarged in 1875, the Augusta Canal runs along the Savannah River (Map) in Augusta, Georgia. It survives as one of the most intact canal systems in the United States. Today, the canal remains part of the City of Augusta's water supply system, continues to supply hydropower to two textile mills, and provides outstanding educational and recreational opportunities. We canoed a 7.0-mile stretch and saw many historic structures along the towpath.See Mike Booneís photography at boonedocks.net for some photos of this trip.

 

Congaree Creek

On Sunday, March 7, 199, Mandy Manuel led a club trip on the recently created Congaree Creek Canoe Trail. (Map) This trail is part of the new Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve. At present, the trail is not completely cleared and there is no official put-in or take-out. However, the Department of Natural Resources, who oversees the Heritage Preserve program, is making access available to paddlers who want to check this trail out. We put in right on Highway 321 (near I-26) and paddled approximately 4 miles downstream and took-out under the power lines at Saxe Gotha Drive off of I-77. The creek is very beautiful and reminded me of the North Fork of the Edisto. It is narrow, with lots of sharp S turns and heavy vegetation. DNR staffers have been working hard to clear trees and limbs from across the creek, but you could definitely tell where they stopped! About half way down the creek became something of an obstacle course. It was quite a challenge to negotiate over and around some of the deadfall. It gave us a real appreciation of how much work has been done! There were a couple of mishaps (anyone fall in? I won't name any names!) but it was a great paddle. Although it is called a canoe trail, due to the constriction of the creek, the smaller craft (kayaks, solo canoes) were much easier to handle than tandem canoes. A whitewater kayak is very appropriate for this creek. There was a surprising amount of flow and current even though the water level was low. Our trip took about four hours, including shuttle. At present, the take-out is gated. However, a key is available from Chris Judge at DNR (734-3753). In a future issue, I will include a map and more detailed information on the access. The following club members attended this trip: Dave and Dianne Mullis, Jon Harrison, Anne Miller, Ernie Stogner, Robin Roecker, Steve Soltys and his son Matthew, Ed Walshe and Bill Thomas.

 

Enoree River

On March 20, 1999, 14 of us in canoes and kayaks, lead by Steve Soltys and his son Mike, boated the Enoree River from the Forest Service Road 339 boat ramp to Brazzleman's Bridge boat ramp on State Secondary Road 81. It was a perfect day. The route is a good family trip at this water level as shown by the good times had by youngsters India Dial, Kelsy Altman, and Sara Hunter. The river was shallow and was probably close to the limits of easy navigability. Exciting portages were required to get over two different trees that blocked the river. The steep banks made the carries difficult. The trip took 5.5 hours, including a half hour for lunch and was just under 10 miles long. The only other soul we saw was one fisherman. The Whitmire real time stream gauging station for the Enoree was 16.05 at 11:00. Lower river levels would make this trip far more difficult. More information is available at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service web site. The put-in and the take-out were very good, each having clean, pit toilets.

 

Lower Enoree and Broad River

On June 19, 1999, Steve and Karen Soltys along with their son Matt lead a group of 4 canoes and one kayak on an eight-mile trip from Keith's Bridge river access to the Broad River boat ramp at SC 34. The nine adults and three children couldnít believe to great weather: 80 degrees, low humidity, a pleasant tail wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Three of the canoes were piloted by novices who did not have much canoeing experience. This run was ideal for such a group. The Enoree had an easy, steady current, which made paddling easy while requiring some maneuvering past downed trees. The Whitmire gauge at the DNR river level web site was 15.65 feet and this part of the river probably in not runable at levels less than 15 feet. There were no river-wide obstructions. As is true of all of the Enoree below Whitmire, the river is about 25 to 30 yards wide and heavily forested with no houses visible. There was abundant birdlife with a few turtles and muskrats noted. There were some small sand bars on the Enoree and large ones on the Broad for picnicking and swimming. Our group ran into one kayaker who had paddled down stream and was going back to his car. This is only the second person in three trips who I have ever seen on the river away from an access. The Broad was mainly a wide, shallow flatwater paddle. The entire trip took only three hours paddling time and is a good one for beginners. Both accesses are good quality.

Broad River trip (Steve Soltys): On June 30, 2001, a small group of two kayaks and a touring canoe went for a trip on a lovely part of the Broad River. We put in at the US Forest Service South Sandy boat ramp. The road to the boat ramp is about 0.5 miles east of the SC 121 bridge over the Broad and well marked by Forest Service signs. The river gauge for the Broad River near Carlise was at 2.54 and this is probably the lowest I would run it. The Broad from the South Sandy put-in to the SC 34 takeout is a 12 to 13 mile trip. (The canoe guide we had said 16 miles but one of our group checked the distance from put-in to take-out with a geo-positioning device and said it was more in the order of 12-13 miles. We spent about 6 hours with slow paddling so this seems about right.) I was very impressed with this part of the Broad. There are easy shoals with numerous possible routes through about every quarter mile. The rapids that were present were Class I all the way and if you got stuck on a rock, getting out and pushing the boat free was not difficult. One of our kayaks was a sea kayak and it negotiated the riffles without difficulty. In between the shoals were pools with moving water. The scenery was excellent. There is only one house on the entire stretch and one of our group was surprised by the lack of trash. I saw more eagles and osprey on this section of river than any other that I have done in South Carolina. At least 3 or 4 bald eagles and 3 pairs of osprey were noted, along with the usual kingfishers, herons, ducks, turtles and an occasional snake. It is our opinion that this section is probably very lightly fished because the shoals present a barrier to bass boats when the water is low. An important feature of this section is the big islands. After about three miles you pass a 0.25-mile island followed by 2.5 mile Sheldon Island. Right after Sheldon Island you will see a train trestle and the railroad will run along the east bank down to the takeout but it is usually well camouflaged by trees. After you pass the train trestle keep a sharp lookout over the next mile on the right for the only good place to camp on this stretch, a place where an old forest service road comes to the river. You will then come to another fork in the river, marking your entrance into the Broad River-Henderson Island Scenic Area filled with old growth timber. We took the left fork with the water low. With higher water you might want to go down the right fork that will pass by the intersection of the Tyger River and the Broad. After about a mile the two forks come back together and you go through a long but easy set of shoals. At the end of the shoals, you will find the current has stopped and you are now on the Parr Shoals Reservoir and have a 4-mile flatwater paddle to the takeout, with the Enoree River entering on the right about half the way down on the right.

French Broad

Jon Harrison set up a terrific trip on the French Broad late this summer and despite low water, fun and thrills were had by all. Karen, daring soul that she is, brought along daughter Kate and two duckies. Kate and Karen piloted one duckie and Ian and Jon's daughter Roxanne the other. Everyone did great and I see a future river guide in that Ian Kustifik. The campground was on the water and lovely, despite being somewhat in the path of a rather busy railroad. Greg Mullis didn't paddle, but found his thrills jumping off of the RR trestle into the river numerous times while his unknowing folks paddled the river. Robin very kindly served as shuttle person and spent her time hiking and mountain biking. This area is near the town of Hotsprings. Hot Springs is loaded with outdoor types of things to do, including Hot Springs in which to soak. Robin was also kind enough to arrange reservations for the group at a tasty little restaurant in town. Bill Graves, Fred Clas, Anne Miller and two of Karen's friends, Ellen and Brett, also joined us. All in all it was truly a fine time. Kyle was a bit disappointed that it was too late to jump the trestle when we returned from the float. As an added treat, rare in a river campground, the campground store offered hot food and imported and domestic adult beverages. I would strongly recommend attending the next trip up here if you feel comfortable with your whitewater skills.

 

Nantahala

Thanks to Rembert Milligan and Ernie Stogner for planning the August 20, 1999, trip to the Nantahala. Eleven of us had a great time. Stayed at Lost Mine Campground and ate at Relia's Garden. The food was great as usual. Those that ordered the blackened catfish reported that it was very hot. They drank so much water that the river was low the next day. The river was full of more rafts than I remember. There did not seem to be as many hard boaters.

 

North Tyger

A small group of the club jumped on the North Tyger this past May, 1999, following a recent rain and had a grand time checking out new lines and playing in general. Dennis Catoe made it down on his sit on top with only one little swim near the end. Keith and Karen portaged up the South Tyger and ran the last rapid on the South, which is near our favorite lunch spot. The Mullises were too lazy to drag their canoe. Pictures from this trip are posted at Carolina Paddlers Assembly, a club that we wish you would all join and take advantage of. Our good friend Charlie allowed us to park and take out at his beautiful homestead.

 

Dave and Dianne Mullis led a last minute trip down the N. Tyger on March 16, 2002 due to cancellation of the French Broad trip because of rain. The gauge at Delta was a little above 1000 cfs and this is generally an indicator that upriver is at a fairly comfortable level. Soil saturation also can be a factor as to how fast the N. Tyger drops and this should be considered before one races off for a run. We have raced up there only to discover that we could walk down the river. We always consult locals before departing now. The trip was attended by Parkin Hunter, Dennis Catoe and Alice Potter. The flow was easy but adequate and very little scraping ensued. Showers were called for but it turned out to be sunny and in the eighties. Lunch was taken on the South Tyger at Stingem Dog rapid (one of the only rapids on the South) and everyone was too lazy to drag their boats up to run it. The North Tyger requires good control of your craft, eddy catching and comfort with Class 2+ water. It is full of fun spots to play and ledges to negotiate. This is not a river to paddle without someone who knows the lines.There is one set of ledges with some really nasty rebar in the middle. Upriver is virtually undeveloped but this is going to be short lived. We see changes on every trip and the land at the put in has been clear cut and is up for sale. Anyone with some spare cash would be wise to invest in this land. I keep a short notice list of club members who have shown interest in paddling the Tyger when it's running, so if you're interested and did not hear from me on this trip then you're not on the list and should let me know.

Submitted by Dave Mullis.

For some more information about the North Tyger, see the AWA Rivers Page about the North Tyger.

Lumber River

April, 2000, Lumber River: The club had a wonderful float down one of many sections of the beautiful flatwater Lumber River this past April. The river was loaded with interesting flora and fauna and is known to house alligators, though none were spotted on this outing. We also discovered spots provided by the paper company which are set aside for canoe camping and picnicing. The Lumber River State Park, one of NCís newest, provided a lovely group camp area with water and bathrooms nearby, but no showers. Group camping rates were extremely reasonable and reservations can be made by e-mail or phone. The park also has a canoe camping section located on another section of the river. There is detailed information on the various sections of the river available at the Lumber River Canoe Club The trip to the put-in is much shorter than it might seem on a map as it is mostly interstate and we highly recommend this river to any fans of flatwater.

 

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