Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lake Moultrie Passage & Sandy Beach Spur Trail 4/13/17

Let me begin by sharing my 50 Days to 50 challenge.
I want to be more intentional about spending time with friends, improving fitness, and getting ready to start the second half of my life in a purposeful frame of mind. I decided to push myself to meet with as many friends as I can in the 50 days leading up to my 50th birthday, May 18, and try to focus on doing lots of walking as a means to this end.
I set aside a couple of days on my Spring Break calendar (I'm a teacher) to go hiking. Suzette Anderson attends Shandon Baptist with me, and she said she'd love to go.  When I posted on Facebook for any takers to join us, Julie Lundy jumped in and joined us. I just met Julie a month or so back.  She also attends Shandon Baptist. The 3 of us headed south of Eutawville for our day hike at Lake Moultrie.

We started our walk on a raised dike overlooking a long pond filled with water lilies and alligators. (We strained to see the gators, but I only saw one here and didn't get a picture.) But the water lilies were like walking into a Monet painting.

Wildflowers peaked out at us throughout our hike.

Gator spotted!  My adrenaline began to surge!  We heard there are some BIG DUDES out here.
 How pretty is that?  This weed/flower is 2-3 feet wide and 3 feet high.  
This was the biggest gator we spotted--and he was across the pond on the other side, thank the Lord. The picture doesn't do it justice.
Sandy Beach--where we stopped for lunch.  It was a beautiful day--high near 80 degrees and a bit overcast.  Most of the passage is in full sun, so this wouldn't be the best trail to take in August.
 Finding Palmetto Trail signs were reassuring.  Google Maps aren't as reliable when one has spotty service in the wilderness.  It would have been REALLY nice if we saw a sign for "Sandy Beach Spur Trail" when we left the Lake Moultrie Passage and headed off on a gravel road.
I love the Cyprus knees poking up out of the water.  These remind me of the Edisto Gardens in Orangeburg.
 We saw/heard lots of birds.  Lovely.

This flood gate is probably used for flooding or draining the lakes in order to plant corn in some of the fields next to the lakes. We saw rows of old corn in the flooded marshes. Ducks love to live in the swampy area under the cover of corn--and it provides a food source, too! I wonder how low the water in those fields goes in the summer.  The water line was definitely high when we saw it.

 More gator sightings.

 This big weed was  gorgeous!  I put my foot up there next to it so you could see how big it was!  I don't know the name of it, but would love it if someone would comment and tell me! Lookie what I just found:   It has a bunch of hikes for viewing wildflowers in April and May!  Next Up List!!! Woo hoo!

 I learned about Cinnamon Ferns--see the brown stalks in the middle?
 And this fella was crossing the path straight in front of us. Julie and I ran past by counting to three! Suzette was a bit more calm and collected.  I guess experience does that to ya.
This bit of fungus looked like a marshmallow rose.  I'm pretty sure it is a fungus because its puffiness reminded me of the smut on the corn. I guess I have more stuff to look up than I originally thought!  And what kind of snake was that, anyway?
 The thistle were nearly always attracting butterflies.

We had a lovely day.  We left West Columbia at 8:30 am and returned home around 4:00 pm. I drove all the back roads because today was a day for beauty and adventure, not speed and stress. After our hike, we spent a bit of time driving through different trail sections in Eutawville and Santee to check out some future hikes. I drove along the Eutawville Passage that I had walked 2 years earlier, and didn't see the first piece of trash the whole way. Sweet. We made new friends, and returned home tired and happy.

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