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

Henry David Thoreau

Two lovely days at Edisto Beach S.C.

Monday and Tuesday  October 11 and 12, 2013
Edisto Beach State Park, South Carolina



MONDAY – We Arrive



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Sorry we can’t stay a couple more days at Santee State Park or move somewhere closer to Congaree National Park, whose campground appears to be boondocking for tents only, in order to spend another couple of days there to include some paddling and a lot more tree hugging.

But poor  us, we have to move a whole 93 miles down the road to Edisto Beach State Park where we have site 26 which is right behind the ocean dune. 

After getting semi-set up and having lunch,  it’s time to hit the beach.

OH YES!!!   
LOVE those sea oats!!



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A little too cool for swimming with a high of 68 but not for walking in the water which is  actually not cold.

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Can’t quite see the sunset from Winnona so we’ll have to find a good spot for tomorrow night.  But the sunrise comes up right behind us.   I think I’m going to like it here just fine.






TUESDAY Morning– We bike and learn


First thing today I’m out and on the beach for the very reasonably timed (6:47am) sunrise.   It might even be late enough for Paul Dahl.  Although it’s not late enough for David.


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Edisto Beach State Park owns land on both sides of SC Rt 174, the main road to and through the town of Edisto Beach.  The Live Oak Campground situated under its name sake trees is on the west side of the road along with all the hiking trails.  We are located in the beach campground OF COURSE which is on the East side.   We bike across to check out the trails.

Turns out the Spanish Mount 1.7 mile trail and several of the other shorter trails are bikeable so we combine them for several interesting hours.







The Spanish Mount is actually a shell Indian Midden (mound).  We have seen a number of these in Florida  parks but never one with such an interesting cut away as this one.  Look at all the shells  just piled on top of one another.

No one really knows the  purpose of these mounds.  Some say people gathered here 4000 years  ago to eat oysters, lots of  oysters.  Really?  This mound was  20’ high and a half acre in size in 1809 MANY years after it had been abandoned.  Two centuries later it is 1/10th that size.  So was it EVEN bigger before 1809??  How big was it 3000 years ago??  That is a LOT of oysters for a people to eat. 

Although all we see in the cut away is an amazing layer after layer of oyster shells, archeologists claim to have found  oyster, mussel and turtle shells along with bones from deer, rabbit, turkey and 14 kinds of fish.  Ok so  it was a trash pile.  Even so that’s a LOT of people to eat 20’ of trash.  I wonder if the mound have social or ceremonial significance to the people?



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The mound is being washed away so the park service has erected a retaining wall along the water in front of it and there they have a viewing platform from which we could take the cut away picture above.   In this picture I took of information at the site, you can see the damage done to the mound by the tides. 


After seeing the mound, we bike on to the boat launch to check it out for future paddling.  From  this vantage  point Big Bay Creek looks lovely but BIG.   Hope there are some  smaller water trails off of  it.


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Next stop, the Environmental Learning Center where we don’t stay long since it is such a beautiful day and they are predicting a not so beautiful one for tomorrow which will provide better indoor time. 

But the center is an impressive green building and they have numbered information points all  around it inside and out explaining its many environmental and energy saving features.   Sure wish all our buildings were made with this much concern and foresight.


The center  is a part of the Estuarine Research Reserve System as was the Wells Center we stopped at when visiting the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells Maine.  There are 28 reserves located along all the coasts of this country  including the Great Lakes.  There is also one in Puerto Rico.  Here are exhibits on the research being done at this center.   Also inside are exhibits on the habitat and  inhabitants of this specific place including some of my favorites, the crabs.  Just look at all those kinds of crabs that are in the waters here.

More later on this center, I hope.


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Back  out on the trail we have one last stop to make and this is another real  education for us. 

We learn that the original predecessor of the current US Geodetic Survey was the  US Coastal Survey created by congress  in  1807 to conduct a “survey of the coast”.  It represented  President Jefferson’s administration’s interest in science and making the coastlines safe for navigation and  international trade.   If you are from Charlottesville, Virginia as we are, you have a lot of information on Mr. Jefferson but we had no idea about this.  

Lack of instrumentation and the War of 1812 slowed down the mapping progress.  In 1843, Alexander D. Bache, great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin,  became superintendent of the Coast Survey.  He developed a measuring device called the "bar of invariable length," allowing mapping to take place despite temperature changes.  This device eliminated the long-standing source of mapping inaccuracies in instruments of the time.  The baseline at Edisto was the third of seven lines measured. The trail dead  ends at one of the two original baseline markers that still exist on Edisto.  This one is the oldest intact baseline!   Pretty cool.

At information panels  along the hike, there are pictures  of the instrument and descriptions of the challenging set up required at each site.  In the 1990’s this 1840’s intricate coastline mapping was resurveyed using GPS  systems and found to be accurate to within 2”.  David speculated that given his experience with GPS, Bache could  have been right and the GPS off by 2”.   :-))


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The biking trails here are beautiful and it’s been a very interesting morning.




Tuesday Afternoon  - relaxing at the beach


After lunch, David drags his huge lounger  out and I bring my beach chair for a little time by the water.




Some folks got their lunch right at the  beach

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I probably should have used this shot of the sanderlings as THE END.

But we had such a lovely sunset to close out our second day at Edisto.  The  high on this perfect day was 74 but temperatures drop to the low 30’s tonight and tomorrow’s high is predicted to have trouble reaching 50.   Freezing temps in South Carolina in early November?  Really??

I’m grateful for today!


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  1. That sunset is terrific! d

    I had no ideas that there were so many crab families.

  2. Looks like a great place. Normally, that would be too early for me to see the sunrise, but our current duties taking care of our grand kids has us up way before sunrise, but it is hard to enjoy the rising sun while chasing a 2 year old:)

  3. I think I'd trust Bache before the GPS. You find the most interesting places.

  4. We have never stayed at Edisto...so we appreciate your tour!! We may get there on our way home from Florida in the Spring. Can't believe how cold it is getting in South Carolina this early. Sure hope this is winter and is followed immediately by Spring;o)) I am afraid we may have a really cold winter in the Pan Handle this year!!!

  5. You've already made me see how much I've missed on Edisto. Our stays there were mostly during my career days and I usually spent most of the time sitting on the beach contemplating how much I didn't want to go back to work in a week! LOL!

  6. Sorry your warm weather is changing. It can be pretty chilly with the winds coming off the ocean. Enjoy the rest of your stay.

  7. Another beautiful spot, what a great place to spend some time, gorgeous sunset picture. Can you imagine in a 1000 years what they will be saying about our landfills. Hope you find some warmer weather soon.

  8. I didn't realize there was beach front camping at Edisto. Just your style!

  9. The temps here in SC have been like a yo-yo. I don't mind it being on the cool side during the day, but it's been downright COLD at night!

    Nice tranquil pictures of the beach.

  10. The thing that struck me most about Alex Bache and his bar of invariable length was that in order to make the precise measurement from point A to point B roughly six miles away, they had to position the bar end to end, perfectly leveled, over and over, AFTER they cleared the line of sight, which in 1843 would have been done by hand, using axes, saws and horses or mules. They must have had a big crew to have finished it in only two months. I suppose the mosquitoes may have helped to speed up the process. That must have been a big deal at the time.

  11. Love your pictures of Edisto. We saw the signs for that on our way south. So many incredible places to see on the east coast!

  12. Me up at 6:47 am? Not even close. Since I've retired, I've actually scraped those early numbers off my clock... :cD

    Glad to see you getting your beach fix, you may have been born a country girl, but you certainly have turned into a beach bunny!

  13. I have close friends in Oregon that go to Edisto Beach every year on vacation. We meant to check it out this year but didn't manage to fit it in. I love the photo of you wading in the ocean. Your enthusiasm for the beach is evident as always.

    The shell mound is really interesting. I like the theory of a huge oyster fest. We went to an oyster festival in Arcata, California that may have generated a similar amount of oysters. Interestingly, they recycle all the shells and put them back in the ocean for habitat for future generations of oysters. I think some restaurants on the east coast are starting to do this as well.

    Gorgeous sunset. You win the contest for most photos of beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

  14. Gorgeous! love that last picture ... and I don't know how in the world you could eat something so ugly... poor ol crabs...

  15. Gorgeous sunset! Neat day. So interesting the secrets of the past. Some we know; some we speculate; a lot we just don't know. 20' trash pile of oysters. That's impressive. Wonder what people 100 years from now will say of us?! I agee GPS can often not be trusted ;)


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