|Neil Haldrup, Trey Watkins and Brown McLeod on the Edisto River - SCDNR video|
The rivers within the ACE Basin are certainly mighty and wide near the coastline, but they offer much more intimate settings inland. Ideal for a small watercraft such as a canoe or kayak, paddling these pathways is a passion for many in the Lowcountry. A distinguished group of Colletonians are making an annual voyage down these woodland corridors each winter, as they seek a refreshing recharge that only nature can deliver.
Walterboro native Brown McLeod has been exploring Lowcountry waterways his entire life, but the past three years fellow attorney William ‘Trey’ Watkins has joined in the fun. The 2013 expedition was expanded to six paddlers with a range in age from 15 years old to 45 years young. They use everything from a 14-foot kayak to a 17-foot Perception kayak with plenty of watertight room for gear storage.
“Two years ago we paddled the Little Salkehatchie about 20 miles to where it turns into the Combahee River,” said McLeod. “Then in 2012 we covered a lower stretch of the Edisto River, so this year we headed upstream and put in near Bamberg. We came down the Edisto River about 15 miles, spending two nights camping, and then finished up near Highway 78.”
This type of float trip requires a plan for weather readiness, camping gear, food rations and pre-planning camp sites. Keeping in mind that much of the banks along the Edisto are privately owned, McLeod and friends used connections with co-workers, family and friends to find a location for each night. Using an iphone and Google Maps allows the paddling party to pinpoint the property they are accessing.
“The whole idea behind the trip is to get into the River and go with the flow of the current,” said Brown. “This year that involved high waterlines and a steady current. The narrow portions of the Edisto were sometimes blocked by downed trees, and we had to strategize how to navigate through them, or perhaps to portage the kayaks around them.” It takes a measure of experience to stop and steady one’s kayak in a river current while assessing the situation ahead, and a dunk in the 55-degree waters is waiting for anyone that makes a mistake.
To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click Colletonian.
To view past blog entries on kayaking click here.