Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Congaree NP and Poinsett SP

I am writing this entry from Asheville, North Carolina. We had an interesting day today touring the Biltmore Estate. I will write about that in a coming entry. We are moving tomorrow about 60 miles to the west. The next stop is one that both of us have been really looking forward to, but for now I will write about a stop we made in South Central South Carolina.

We left Huntington Beach State Park on February 28. We drove north on mainly state highways out of the low country along the coast. We came to a small town and saw a Walmart and I made a quick decision to make a stop and pick up a few things. We rarely do that while towing and here is why...
I made my purchases and we put them in the back seat of the truck. We had a short drive to our campground. As I was making a turn out of our parking spot, I was looking back through the mirror to make sure I missed a car that was parked next to us. Just as I looked forward, a car was in front of me. They were coming through the parking lot and obviously not paying any attention to me. I slammed on the brakes and I felt all 8 disc brakes grab and we came to a sudden stop, just inches from the car. They never even stopped. It took me a second to gather what is left of my wits. Good news, nothing hurt and a lesson learned.

We drove on to Poinsett State Park. It is a small SP that is in a beautiful forest near Sumter, SC. The ground is very sandy. The roads getting into the park are a bit rough, but we made it without issue and backed into site #5. It was $16 per night with water and 30 amp electric. We decided to stay 5 nights. We had excellent Verizon and good OTA TV.

The reason we chose to stop at this park was it's proximity to Congaree National Park. Don't feel bad if you have never heard of Congaree, we were surprised when I noticed it on the map.

Congaree became a NP in 2003. Before that, it was Congaree Swamp National Monument. A local group worked hard and got the designation through congress and signed by the president. What makes this place special? This is the only area East of the Mississippi that has never been forested. This huge tract of land is all old growth. The area has 11,000+ acres of these old trees. They currently have 25 Champion Trees that they know about, but are sure there are some they have not seen.

We were ready to make the 35 mile drive from the park the first morning we were there.

We started by going to the visitor center and talking to the volunteer about what to do in the park. We really wanted to paddle, but were concerned about some weather over the next few days. We watched the film and went through the small exhibits. We decided to do the 2.25 mile boardwalk from the visitor center. They give you a sheet with numbered stops along the boardwalk with explanations of what you are seeing. The diversity is very interesting. Just a few inches of elevation change create habitat for a totally different set of plants and animals.

We learned about Cypress and Tupelo trees and much more. Kim did all of the reading and I just enjoyed taking pictures of everything that I found interesting.

This is a shot straight up a mammoth Loblolly Pine
We did see this one little White Tail deer
That is a Champion Loblolly Pine Tree that Kim is leaning on.
We enjoyed out trip around the boardwalk and then went to check out the places to put the boat in the water. Unfortunately, that was not to be. The weather got bad on the drive back to our campground and it was cold, rainy and windy most of the rest of the time we were in the area. On our way back, we saw this sign by the road:

What is it with military and the places we choose to camp. Of course, I don't mind. I spent much of the time we were here hearing and watching the F-16's from the local State Guard practicing at the range.

F-16 Loaded for bear
The weather did not stop me from hiking at Poinsett SP. The park is full of mountain bike trails. I hiked almost every day we were there.

Just a random picture while I was out hiking
On Sunday, they had a mountain bike race through the park. I went out and got a few pictures of the riders. It is not a whole lot different than a motorcycle race except they are going much slower and they are so quiet, they talk to each other while racing.

A couple of single digit riders. I think they were the fast guys.

One other note to my motorcycle friends: This location is just a couple miles away from the site of the Sumter National Enduro held earlier in February.

Well that is about it for a fun 5 days at Poinsett SP and Congaree NP. Next up was a visit with an old friend up in Aiken, SC. I will write about that visit in my next entry.


  1. Quite the variety of things to do and see there. From the biking, hiking, nature walks and watching the fighter jets. It is amazing that such diverse things are all there living in harmony.

    1. I do think there is room for everyone out there.