Friday, April 3, 2015

Eutaw Springs Passage--Good News, Bad News, Gross News!

When I was in 5th grade, I spent 10 fabulous days at Girl Scout Camp in the Ozarks of Arkansas. At home in Grandview, Missouri, I left behind my mom, brothers, sister, blonde Cocker Spaniel named Trisket, and my hamster--who had recently gone missing. Upon my return home, brother Allen said, "Kristin, I have some good news, some bad news, and some gross news." 
"The good news is, we found your hamster.  The bad news is, he is dead.  The gross news is that I found him half in and half out of my Sunday shoes in the back of my closet.  I think Trisket got ahold of him."
Um.
From that point on, it has never just been "Good News and Bad News." It is always, "Good News, Bad News, and Gross News." And the Eutaw Springs Passage is no exception to this rule.

First the Good News:
Before heading down to Berkeley County near Lake Marion on the Diversion Canal, I skirted around to the City of Orangeburg. All the azaleas and wisteria are in bloom at the Edisto Memorial Gardens, and I couldn't bypass the opportunity to see it in all its glory. I was not disappointed!
My girlfriend Lori Jeffries trekked out with me on this adventure (along with big dog Fred, and little beagle Dixiana).

While in Orangeburg, I HAD to stop at the Dairy-O for a cheeseburger and strawberry milkshake.
(After living in Orangeburg for 9 years, there are some things worth stopping for!  The Edisto Gardens and Dairy-O are two of them! Duke's BBQ by the Pepsi Cola plant on Whitman Street is the other--but we didn't get to stop there this time!!!)

We drove and drove through the countryside seeing beautiful wheat and rye grass fields along the way.  Farmers were just turning up their dirt for the springtime planting.  I definitely miss driving out along Hwy 176 to visit Jim when he was farming in Providence and Holly Hill all those many years ago before Ben was born. It is peaceful and pulls at my heartstrings. I made a point of driving all the way home on Hwy 176 going through Cameron and Sandy Run instead of taking I-26 with its horrible backed-up, road construction, busy-people traffic.

Next The Bad News:
We finally made it to the Diversion Canal.While walking along the canal itself would have been nice, the parking lot was a giant rock quarry with no trees at the trailhead and a straight, uninteresting road leading back to Hwy 45.  We would have had to walk along this and the highway during the first mile, and this did not look appealing. Riding a bike would have been a better opportunity. I prefer shaded walks. This is the highway we would have had to walk along:
So we started out on Murphy Bay Road. We were greeted at the first house by several dogs--one of which was not restrained.  It came after us.  The owners (and kids) came out to retrieve their pit bull.
My girlfriend has never been on any Palmetto Trail walks with me. Since this was an all day adventure, this was a big excursion for her. It was disappointing. The dirt road we traveled along was trashy. After walking the first mile, I decided there were so many liquor bottles strewn everywhere, it was the most consistent feature of our walk--worthy of pictures. Here is a tiny fraction of what we saw:
Lori commented that one could tell we were in a working class area because all of the bottles were not hand-crafted, imported, or anything but dirt-cheap. We felt badly for the sweet people who lived along this road to have their neighborhood treated like a dump.
It looked like camping may have been available roadside:

All-in-all we enjoyed being outdoors on a beautiful day, walking the dogs, and gabbing about family, friends, life, music, church, and politics. The people we met working in their yards or driving down the road were welcoming and friendly.  A speech therapist in the St. Stephen's schools named Barbara chatted with us a while and offered us a cool drink. Her darling home and attractive yard were surrounded by the homes of family members. Hand-built fencing and a covered picnic area in the back were under construction. Chicken coop and gardens were at her mom's across the street. (Her beautiful dogs roamed--and she had family help reigning them in on our approach.) 

An older man sitting on his porch with his Australian Shepherd had cleverly created a rustic flower planter in the shape of a ladder made of logs. It is certainly Pinterest-worthy. And I want one. Won't this be delightful when it is full of spring blooms?
Murphy Bay Road has a history. There is no doubt about it.

 If this old tree could talk, I wonder the stories it could share:
 We even came upon the home of a Marine Sniper.  His presence was formidable.

After 2 miles of Murphy Bay Road, the passage turned onto another road that was a blacktop and 45 mph. We decided then and there it wasn't for us.  Bicycling-YES. Walking--NO. The pavement would have been too hot for the dogs' paws.  We were already getting sunburned--and this new part of the passage didn't provide much tree coverage. It didn't promise of being a TRAIL as we had hoped we set out in the morning. So we turned around and headed back to the car. Fred is expressing how we felt:

In need of a restroom, we stopped at the Canal One Stop. I picked up a pack of Red Worms for the compost bin in my science classroom. Lori and I both agreed it would have been cleaner to tinkle on the trail than in this restroom. (I refused to touch the faucet handles.) But I must say the workers at the One Stop were VERY NICE.  Everyone we met was gracious and kind. (We didn't meet the SNIPER.--But Lori is military and has a plethora of sniper friends, so we weren't intimidated.  We were actually proud of him and would have liked to meet him and thank him for his service.)
I would have liked to walk down this trail:

And Now for the Gross News:
I spotted the buzzards circling in the sky when we first started out. While walking, we came upon two dead dogs--one newly dead and surrounded by 5 buzzards guarding their find--and the other long gone in a swampy mire. We traveled 2 miles and saw 2 carcasses. Um. Gross. Yeah, that's about it.


In Summary:
I would have liked to travel on the Eutaw Springs Passage of the Palmetto Trail starting at the trailhead in the town of Eutawville.  It is a quaint town, and I enjoy being there.  It will have to be on a Friday or Saturday, because I definitely want to go to Sweatman's BBQ while there. (To learn more about Sweatman's, visit my KrittyGirl blog: http://krittygirl.blogspot.com/2013/06/day-trip-with-jim-to-holly-hill-may-2013.html).
I would not recommend this passage to new visitors to South Carolina. Even though the people are friendly, it is a trashy passage.  It is definitely more suited for bicycling than hiking. The dogwoods, azaleas, and wisterias were all in full bloom on the 2nd of April, 2015, but in June, July, or August, this swampland will be covered in mosquitoes and HOT--especially along the highways and paved roads. I'm glad we went when we did, but do not want a repeat of this trail (if one can call it a trail).
Fred and Dixiana are tuckered out:

Image: All images are from my phone/camera except for the Council of Buzzards on Wikimedia.  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/43/The_Council_of_Buzzards.png

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Break Master Plan! 3/30-4/3 2015

Spring Break Palmetto Trail Hiking Master Plan!!! Let me know if you want to join me on any of the days! (WALKING only!!) 
Mon. 3/30: Awendaw Passage (Charleston); 
Tues 3/31 Jocassee Gorges Passage (Table Rock); 
Wed 4/1 Blackstock Battlefield Passage (Cross Anchor); 
Thurs 4/2 Eutaw Spring Passage (Eutawville); 
Fri 4/3 Peach Country Passage (Inman).