|It took days of paddling and countless portages to finally make it to this gorgeous sunrise.|
|Thick mud at the put-in should have been a warning.|
|Sandbar on the Congaree River.|
First there was the rain and freezing cold. I couldn’t manage to generate enough heat while paddling to stay warm. My glove and shoe systems, sufficient for backpacking, were not adequate for the cold-weather kayaking, and my fingers and toes were numb for much of the time. I believe that comfort is not the point of an adventure so that's not necessarily a problem, but I also know it takes its toll, sapping energy, and can quickly lead to hypothermia.
|Paddling in the rain and cold. Photo by JJ.|
|Resting in my hammock.|
The cool thing was that I learned that I could actually recover OK out there. My hammock is the ideal place to rest, so by the next morning, I got up ready to paddle. I was really low on energy and unable to eat much for the duration of the trip, but I found out that I could still manage.
|Downed trees across Cedar Creek- time for another portage.|
|Hauling the kayaks up and down steep muddy banks.|
|JJ figuring out how to move the kayaks efficiently up the creek.|
|BEST SOUP EVER!!!!|
For more information:
Congaree River Blue Trail - NPS map and more info here.
Congaree National Park- pick up your free backcountry camping permits before you head out. The Cedar Creek canoe trail is only partially marked, and has numerous portages right now, so I wouldn't recommend doing the trip we did. The rangers said that they try to clear it once a year, but there are funding problems so call ahead (also ask about flooding and weather/ bugs/ snakes). Or, stick to the hiking trails which were fabulous and that I enjoyed a lot on a previous trip to see the big trees.