unfortunately, computer still says there aren’t any pictures to download – 😦
4/30/18 – 5/3/18 – Hunting Island SP is a wonderful large, very popular South Carolina SP, just off the coast of Beaufort. I mostly love State Parks, they are usually very well kept, clean, good facilities, especially ones that are very popular, and that would include all beach SPs. And I absolutely looove that they preserve beaches in their natural undeveloped state! The difference is huge. Hunting Island is no exception, occupying an entire barrier island with 4 miles of pristine oceanfront beaches. But large, well attended state parks aren’t my favorite places to camp, only because there are so many people camping so close together. Even tho I really like meeting so many interesting people, and I find campers are for the most part nice, friendly and interesting. Also I find my usual shy/introvert self easily walks up to perfect strangers and starts talking. Well, I guess I have to give Xena most of the credit. Not a shy bone in her body, she loves everybody and everybody loves her. Lucky me.
I came to Hunting I. at this time because there was another Women Aliner group camp and as I’ve said before, I like to meet other solo women traveling in small campers, especially Aliners so I can learn more about it and how to live in it before I take off on the BIG trip west. In spite of the crowds I found HI very interesting and enjoyable, and it’s nice to get plugged in after a week without elec. Right after we got there and got set up, we went for a walk (always). Even tho I found a lot of Aliners, didn’t see anyone I knew from the previous WACs camp. Mid afternoon, must be naptime! So we went to the beach and walked South. Very wide beach, low tide, and after a little walk on clean beach, lots and lots of storm bones – trees downed by Mathew and Irma. LOTS!! Even tho I’ve never been here before I could tell there were lots of trees, palms primarily, gone from the beach side of the campground and the beach itself. They’d been cleaned up and removed so the bones weren’t still there, but stumps were obvious. Because I was late making a reservation, we had a site on the back side of the campground, away from the beach where most everybody else was, in the trees. Which was lucky, most people prefer near the beach so at this point those sites were pretty exposed and hot. Down the beach a ways, WOW!!! Lots of damage! And apparently over many years of hurricanes the damage and erosion has been massive, I met a couple of local women who said the beach and island has changed shape a lot. I wish I could post some pics here. Hopefully later.
We walked down to the lighthouse, not far, maybe 1/2-3/4 mi, and climbed it – all 9 flights!!! They were very considerate and put a display with some historical or structural information at each landing, good excuse to stop and get a breath in addition to learning something. It’s the only publicly accessible lighthouse in SC. Originally constructed in 1859, destroyed during the Civil War, and reconstructed in 1875 using interchangeable cast iron sections which made it possible to relocate. Possible but I can’t imagine easy! Due to severe beach erosion in 1889, it was dismantled and relocated 1.3 miles inland to its current location, which is once again pretty close to the ocean. After climbing the 9 flights, you can stand on the observation deck 130 feet above the ground and witness a magnificent panoramic view of the Atlantic Coast and the maritime forest surrounding it, and all the storm bones. Several outbuildings are in the compound with historic displays. And there’s a little store where you can buy an ice cream to reward yourself for making the walk down to and then climbing it!! 🙂 I had a delicious creamy pecan fudgesicle type from Mexico that was fabulous. Fortification to walk back!! That evening went out for seafood dinner with some of the WACs. YUM! shellfish!!
There is a Nature Center at the other end of the island, where several of us went the next day. There are trails but some of them were closed due to storm damage. Since it would have been 8 miles round trip plus some exploring at the center, we drove. The center is small and limited mostly to snakes and turtles. Some very cute turtles that were wounded rescues so were in tanks. They were named and definitely pets, would come up to you when you walked near since they get fed by humans. Saw a pair of painted buntings at the Center’s feeder – a first for me. Walked some trails from there, one across a lagoon via a footbridge, to a small island that juts out even farther into the Atlantic, where the storm bones were even more numerous. The beach was roped off, pick-up sticks, you couldn’t even walk!! Saw a raccoon without a mask but with the tail, and several Blue Herons in the lagoon. And another longer trail down the main island side of the lagoon to the breach between them and a wonderful spot where Xena could swim. Looked mighty refreshing about that time.
We had taken a few cars and I stayed and explored longer than the others, so drove back alone. Right in the middle of the island are very large public beaches and the visitors center which I also visited. Then as I was coming the rest of the way, the highlight of the week, or the month! A car was parked on the side of the road and 2 people were out looking through binocs, a sure sign for a birdwatcher that a sighting has been made. I stopped, grabbed the field glasses I keep in the console and hopped out. In the trees across a pool in the marsh were probably 40-50 mostly white birds – mostly Egrets, but also some Storks and a few Cormorants at the very tippy top. Huge nests all over the trees. Again, picture would be nice, but what I took wasn’t very good anyway, wish I’d had a good camera with a good zoom. Wish I’d had a few of my birdwatching expert friends with good glasses and cameras with me. But what a treat to have seen!!! After awhile the ranger came up and told us we had to leave!! There were 3 signs up that said no stopping, protected nesting area, etc! But who saw signs when you had such a sight to look at. We were all good nature loving rule followers and apologized profusely and left, but were so happy we hadn’t seen those signs!! And am I glad I’d driven and not tried to hike the beach, would have never seen this sight. Ranger was very nice and didn’t arrest us, :), said until recently it wasn’t visible from the road, but the road crews had cut the growth all the way down and exposed it. Since, there were noticeably fewer nests and birds. He also said it was a stop he now had to make several times a day. Sad. but happy I got to see it.
I also got to see a lot of Aliners with their high wind systems, accessible/useable storage set-ups, tips from the longtime Aliners about how they manage living in the small space, etc., etc., so got some good ideas. It was a good stay at Hunting Island, and glad we left before the weekend crowds got there, it was already crowded, all 200 campsites!!
We came home on a more inland route, after getting to I-95, cruised on it up to above Florence, SC where we got off and stopped at Little PeeDee River State Park for the night. Actually on the way we stopped and drove through Santee State Park, on Lake Marion. It’s really convenient to I-95 so could be a cool stopover place on the way to FL. It looked really good, right on the lake, nice large sites. Little PeeDee was also nice but rather weird. It’s on a small lake which was dry! Once again storm damage, Hurricane Mathew again. He was really destructive! The lake flooded over the dam and the water pressure broke the dam! It looks like a really nice spot so I’ll have to go see it after the dam’s repaired and it fills up again. The springs that feed it still flow through and there are the deeper spots where water is still there, so some wildlife was there anyway. I saw a blue heron and a bunch of purple martins and some four legged critters moving across in the grass that I couldn’t identify. It was interesting to see how much the lake bed had grown up, and I wondered how. Did the roots live in spite of being underground for however many years the lake had been there? Did seeds live under water for that long. Was it reseeded by birds? Anybody got ideas?
I had a fabulous misty sunrise view the next morning, leisurely tea and breakfast by the dry lake bed, and packed it all up to drive the rest of the way home where we were very warmly greeted by all the 2 and 4 legged Full Circle Farm residents. Particularly enthusiastically by Gabby, she gets so excited when we return, sure wish she could go too.
Wanted to catch this Coastal/beach trip up here because now I’m back deep in trying to get more of the BIG trip out west planned. I have the first 10 days camping reserved, at Theodore Roosevelt NP in North Dakota and Badlands NP in South Dakota, and reservations in Banff and Jasper, but other than that I’m winging it (so far) and haven’t even decided what route to take to get there! I’ll attempt to get more planned, but as others who’ve done this tell me, I’m sure I’ll find spots on the way. I can’t afford to stay at too many of the more expensive state and national parks so need national forests, other federal lands and boondocking to balance out the costs and they generally don’t take reservations anyway, and I have lots of guides to find them. So I’m feeling a bit anxious and nervous, wanting to just get this show on the road. Plan to leave sometime the week of May 20th.
Til then, we’re off the road. Roll with us later for more adventures. And if anyone is planning a trip out that way June thru Aug, maybe we could meet up. Let me know.
Lynn and Xena