Back to Buck Hall

3/8/18 – After roaming around Atalaya Castle remains at Huntington Beach, we moved on down the road, backtracking an hour, back to Buck Hall Campground in Frances Marion National Forest in SC.  If you remember when I was here earlier, I really liked it and wanted to stay longer, but already had the reservation at Huntington.  Thought it worth it to come back.  I knew there were no available sites, but also that there is an overflow area you can boondock, so went anyway, hoping for a no-show, but OK if not. Buck Hall goes on my list of favorite campgrounds, it’s small, spacious sites, it’s on the Intercoastal.  It’s National Forest so it’s only $20/night – $10 with senior pass.   I get up early to get the sunrise over the water every day.

I met Cathy, another solo woman camper there who came out to meet Xena, the magnet for dog lovers.   When I told her my plans to go on the ferry to the Cape Romaine Wildlife Refuge on Bull Island, she hadn’t known about it but wanted to go too.  She was in a class C, meaning a one piece unit, engine & camper together, like my Toyota Dolphin (but bigger), so I offered to drive her too.

There are 2 ferries a day – 9 and 12:30, so Friday (3/9) we went to catch the 12:30 ferry, but missed the boat by minutes.   I’d called earlier and got bad directions so went the long way.  At least we knew exactly where it was for the next day.  So we went to the Sewee Visitor and Environment Education Center.  It didn’t open til March 7, also the ferry, so wasn’t open when I was there before, one of the main reasons I wanted to come back.  There are great exhibits of the wildlife and ecosystems of the SC coast, with fantastic audio of natural sounds and songs as you pass through.  A very good video and an endangered Red Wolf viewing area and some trails.  After viewing the Red Wolves and doing a little trail, I asked the Wldlife manager Ranger what the purpose of their being there was.  Can’t remember her title but she was very knowledgeable and caring about the wolves.  It seemed to me that the viewing area was nothing more than a zoo situation so I wanted to know why.  She said it is a managed breeding site, one of several.  The hope is to be able to reintroduce them into the wilds but that isn’t panning out so well.  The Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in NC was once a reintroduction site, but isn’t any more.  There are some still there however.  What stops the program is primarily lack of funding, but also not enough wilderness, too much development.  It is very sad that our egocentric attitude toward nature has caused the eradication of, or near eradication of,so many species and we see them as nothing but problems to our lifestyles, something that has to go.  So grateful there are folks who fight for their lives and provide places like this for us to appreciate nature.  And even tho there isn’t enought $$ to support all the efforts I’m so glad we have these National Preserves and Refuges.

3/10 – And on to catch the ferry to Bulls Island part of the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.

Oh my, what a fantastic adventure!  The Naturalist who introduced us to the Refuge again was so full of knowledge and information, in addition to humor!  The Refuge is a collection of barrier islands, maritime forests, fresh and brackish water impoundments, salt marshes and many intricate waterways, stretching for 22 miles along the coast of SC and the Intercoastal Waterway and covering over 66,000 acres of pristine lands and waters.  Bull Island is one of the islands with enough solid ground and forest to explore and a beautiful undeveloped sandy beach on the ocean side.  We saw Dolphins on the way out, they like to get into the wake of the ferry.   Historical landmarks, ancient shell heaps “Middens” deposited by Native Americans over 2000 yrs ago, remains of an old fort used as protection from pirates and later in the Revolutionary and Civil wars.  Two  1800’s lighthouses on a separate island.  Lots of Alligators!!  I mean lots, and close up.

Biggest Alligator                                  Bunch of babies

The unblemished beach                      A tropical trail

Such a wonderful experience.  The ferry costs $40, it’s a 30 minute informative ride over, they leave you for a half day, or a whole day if you take the 9am ferry, and pick you up for another informative ride back.  Oh my, it’s worth every penny.

After 3 nights in the overflow area, we went to one of the free primitive camping areas in the National Forests, called Honey Hill.  Nice name.  Stayed 2 nights because it got really cold and windy and rained all night and day and my next drive was a long one.  We went shopping and got provisions and had a campfire the first night, then settled in for a pretty miserable night and next day with no elec. but battery and I’m really careful about using it.  At least the fridge runs on propane when no power and the stove is propane.  I curled up and read, walked Xena every time there was a break, cooked and ate, and sat in the car some because it’s much more comfortable than seats in camper, plus radio and heat!  You know, rainy day things.  Just wish I’d been able to get on line to do this catch-up.

The next morning (yesterday) was below freezing but not raining.  I got up early, got the camper packed up, folded down, hitched up and left by 8:30.  Probably a record.  We are now at Cedar Point CG in the Croatan National Forest in NC.  It has been cloudy, cold and windy today so I’ve done this catching up instead of going to the beach or walking the trails.  But now the sun is out, still real windy, but think we’ll go walking.

Btw, the Aliner has been in lots of heavy rains and blustery winds and has been great.  No leaks and I don’t feel any wind blowing in the cracks.  Was worried about that since there are so many moving parts.  Yay!!

Two parting shots, first of the last sunrise from Buck Hall.   I also saw a baby dolphin, seemed to be playing in the Intercoastal, right in front of me.  Tried to get pictures, did get one of it’s tail, but not good enough to post.  And Xena after a muddy walk!!  Look at those legs and paws!!  And she had to come back in the camper!!  It was really a mess from both of us.

Since today has been kind of a bust because of cold and wind I’ll see how the weather is tomorrow and may stay another day to get more beach and trails in.  Otherwise may be on the way home tomorrow.

Til next time,

Lynn and Xena, back in NC




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