Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Our day in Santee

Saturday November 9, 2013
Santee State Park, Santee, SC



 Some morning maintenance is on tap today.


On our second day here in Santee, David does some of those maintenance chores that come up.  We had ordered MCD shades for the bedroom to make it DARK and boy do they.  One came while we were in Virginia and up it went but the other one was the wrong size.   Totally their fault but they couldn’t get the replacement to us before we left.  It was here waiting for us when we arrived so David goes to work and put it up.  He does  a great job on both of them, making them fit in behind the upholstered valence.   Anybody want a couple of accordion day night shades?  :-)


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I’ve also been having trouble with my bedside light so he checks it out and determines it’s not the wiring but the light switch.  So next time we’re near a hardware store we’ll  pick one up. Missions accomplished!

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Time now to get out and go hiking.

There went the morning but we still have the afternoon to take on the 3 short trails here in Santee.  They each claim to be 3/4 of a mile long but we find those estimates to be somewhat inaccurate.



First up, Sinkhole Pond Nature Trail.


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We’ve seen a number of sink holes in Florida so we  know what to expect here.  The first one is right by the parking lot. 

Sure enough,  a subterranean stream has eaten away the limestone until the ground above it caved in.  This one had not filled with water but was rather filling in with new growth of bushes and trees.

Good thing they had a fence around it.  I wouldn’t want Ruby to fall  in


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The sink hole trail runs through a long leaf pine  forest which is becoming a really rare habitat in the southeast.  Only 2% of the South’s once vast  long leaf pine forests remain today and as a result species that depend on this  unique kind of forest are threatened with extinction.  Species like the southeastern fox squirrel whom we hoped to see today.  But it didn’t happen.   Here’s his picture.  We were really on the  look out for this cutie.




Fox Squirrel



I  love walking through forests of lofty pines.  The understory is often very clear and open.  It’s so quiet with the pine needle floor and it smells divine.  I’m not sure which I  love more, the walk  among the towering trunks or looking up to their canopy in the sky.

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The pines here are very tall and it is a wonderful trail just a bit  longer than 3/4 of a mile we thought which was just fine.  The trail  leads to this huge beautiful water filled sinkhole  looking particularly wonderful on this perfect fall day.

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From here we  head over to the other side of the park near the smaller Cypress View  Campground.


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The Oak Pinolly Trailhead is just behind the playground across from the entrance to the campground.  It too is  listed as 3/4 of a mile long.  It seems a lot shorter to us than  that.

We’re not sure what Pinolly means but after hiking the trail we are wondering if they were trying to say Oak Pine Holly and be cute.   There were definitely some BIG pine  trees here.





Along with a few persimmon trees.  I think persimmons are too astringent even when they are supposedly ripe but David doesn’t share my view obviously.  He’s foraging again – his motto is free food anywhere you can find it.


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Before heading over to the final trail, we stop by to see the exhibits room at the Visitor Center. 


The room is packed with information about the history of the area and the creation of the park.  In sum, the original Native American inhabitants were pretty much wiped out by disease brought by the explorers.  All that is left are their names given to area rivers and the lake.  Congaree, Saluda, Santee, Catawba and Enoree. 

Here is what the Santee River used to look like before it and 110,000 acres around it were drowned to form Lake Marion during the 1930’s WPA era.  The CCC helped cut down the forest you see below.  The reason given for the creation of the lake was electricity.  Many of the area people did not have electricity or running water.  And many of them did not want to be moved in order to get either one.

Some homes, churches  and  graves  were moved but others including more than half  a dozen indigo and cotton plantations were just drowned.   There are pictures  of some  of the lost structures in the visitor’s center. 


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Here’s what it looks like today just behind the Visitor’s Center

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Was it worth making such a drastic change  in such a magnificent landscape?  What do you think?



Our last  3/4 mile trail turns out to be the shortest hike of all; sort of.



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Despite serious attempts in all  directions we are never able to find the Limestone Nature Trail or any trail markers other than the sign at the beginning.  But the  “hike” is worth it just to go across this wonderful bridge at the beginning.





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On the other side we follow every path we see but none turns  out to be anything like the diagram on the park map and they all lead to a road.  But, that’s ok.  Look what we do see while we are searching.


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It feels really good to get back out on the trails today.  It warms us up for our much bigger hike tomorrow in South Carolina’s only  National  Park.


  1. So great to see you guys on the move again! Gorgeous photos! Love the mirror effect. So "Next stop, Congaree?" Will you do the kayaking trail? I really enjoyed the ranger-led one, but not sure they still do that. I look forward to finding out in the next post!

  2. I don't like to see any modification of a natural place, for electricity or otherwise. But I've lived with electricity and running water all my life and shouldn't be able to dictate to people who don't have it. What I do resent is the waste of electricity, as in lights all night long in cities and developed areas, and watering grass especially during periods of near drought

    1. I forgot to mention that your pictures are beautiful, especially the one - no I can't pick out a special one as they are all special!

  3. Glad ad to see you on the move, again. You find beauty everywhere. I've been meaning to ask, is there anything David Can't do???

  4. I assume you can get rid of those awful strings with the MCD shades. But dang, I have a Lot of windows. Does David hire out? ;) That squirrel is unusual and that forest is divine. Not keen on flooding areas for whatever reason but rather doubt it will be drained. Marvelous water reflections of the fall colors and clouds. Bet it feels good to be back on the road again and out hiking.

  5. Nice looking place for water loving tree huggers. Great pics. I like the long deep water with clouds reflected the most.

  6. I, too, love that you are on the move again although I do enjoy the posts you write while in Charlottesville and at the farm! Love the pic of David eating the persimmon. I hadn't noticed how thick and bushy his hair is (not sure if it comes out that way, but that's meant to be a compliment! LOL!) and that gives me lots of hope! Don't miss the nature trail on Edisto. It's leads to some old Indian Mounds if my memory hasn't failed me and is nothing spectacular, but a nice stroll.

  7. David did a good job installing the MCD shades. We've thought about ordering some, but I'm not sure the sides of our valances are thick enough, and I don't want to have to build some new ones.

    I love the smells of a pine forest.

    I don't know about the flooding either. There are so many huge and beautiful lakes around here but when you realize they covered farms, rivers and woods. The people were able to get out in time, but I always feel for the poor animals who didn't. I hope you don't get the cold snap we're expecting here.

  8. I too love foraging in the woods in search of free food...

  9. Santee looks like a nice place! I think those same trees are here at Pittman...all trunk to the top :-) I love the spanish moss hanging everywhere too. David is so handy. Those shades can be a bear to work with.

  10. Nice job on the shades David, something we need to consider at some point. Good to see you on the road again, you always seem to find the nicest places, just need to find the warm weather to go with it. As for creating the lakes by flooding the forest, if they knew what we know now they might have done things differently, progress always comes at a price we just don't always know what the price will be.

  11. Look forward to your posts about Congaree. Hope the mosquitos are asleep for the winter!

  12. Beautiful photos from the "other Santee." Someday I'll have to go there!

  13. That sink hole looks like it could eat a car or two:(

  14. I think you are really going to enjoy your time at the National Park.

  15. David did a great job on the shades. He's a handy guy, that's for sure…Looking forward to seeing your take on the national park.

  16. Looks like a peaceful place to explore. Ripe wild persimmons would be a delightful surprise to discover on a hike.

    Gorgeous reflection photos with the autumn colors.

  17. Ohhhh, persimmon pudding! Yum. You sure had great places to walk. Nothing better than the smell of pine trees.

  18. There he goes again, proving there isn't ANYTHING he can't do. Great job on the shades!

    That sink hole is rather intimidating.

  19. As always, love your pictures! Just awesome! We have so much in common (the tree hugging too :-) I hope we meet up some day as we head out full time next summer! Keep these wonderful hikes/pictures/campground descriptions coming... I've got quite a lot of notes so far!

  20. robinkwalton@gmail.comNovember 11, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    Not sure about wether or not it was worth it..lake is blah.....
    There was so much more lost

    Those pictures are gorgeous,wish I could get a hard copy to paint..so beautiful..Dave I love your hair!

  21. My favorite free food is Mother Nature's bounty found in the wild. Doesn't happen often, so even at the risk of an astringent persimmon, it is worth a try. These were just a little astringent but unfortunately that taste stayed much longer than the sweet from the fruit. Maybe I should peel them first to be safe as the astringency seems to be in the skin.

  22. Are you sure you wanted to park Ruby that close to the sinkhole??? :cO

    Atta Boy David! Nice job on the shades. Hope you got a great hug for finishing that job! :c)

  23. Dad is such a handy man! I like persimmons too ;) Pretty hike - nice trees - I love those little ponds and how they reflect the trees and clouds. That fox squirrel is cute - although his head looks singed. Sorry you didn't actually eye one - very pretty nonetheless.

  24. Love the shades and that sink hole lake! the colors! and, no... I love the trees and natural beauty of the land. BUT at the same time... I understand the need for electricity but I don't like it. Got to be better ways than eliminating forests which prevent flooding and soil erosion and so forth...

    and I remember persimmons as a kid... bitter bitter bitter.... got to be really ripe and yes... no skin. makes you pucker...

  25. What only one National Park in South Carolina? What's up with that? Pretty scenery. I love any kind of pine trees! Persimmons? Our Abbey loved them and would find them and gobble down as many as she could find. Have fun! XXXOOO

  26. We love the MCD shades...believe you will enjoy the way they block the light!!

    We did some hiking at Santee and also had trouble finding some trails. But it is nice there. Is the lake still down?? It was a huge cliff dropoff to the lake when we were there!!! Your gonna love the only National Park in South Carolina...meant for tree lovers!!

  27. Nice photos Sherry, if you like to see some of the older places that were under water at the time of the flooding follow route 51 on the other side of the lake down to Kenneth Ln make a right and follow to end or any side road and you will see where the water was and cover some of the stores and homes you can't take anything but a picture is sure something to past on. Wish I could find my from 2005. Ps did have 4X4 CJ Jeep at the time..


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