Essay: Changes at the Park – A Fifty-Year (Nearly) Perspective

This will be my last entry for Congaree Journal, A Diary of Life in the Swamp. I’ve enjoyed sharing my observations and experiences with you over these past two years about one of the most distinctive and biologically diverse parks within the national park system. And I appreciate John Grego and Friends of Congaree Swamp […]

A Flow-Through System

December 26, 2015.  In a repeat performance from last year, the swamp is experiencing Christmas flooding. Today the Congaree River gauge at the park is reading nearly eighteen feet and has been sixteen feet or higher since December 23rd. With more water on the way down the Broad and Saluda Rivers, the park could stay […]

A Winter Paddle on Cedar Creek

December 18, 2015.  Frank and I make a long paddle down Cedar Creek today, putting in at the South Cedar Creek Landing. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to see a significant portion of the creek since the heavy flooding started two-and-a-half months ago. I’m expecting to find a lot of damage in the […]

A Dead River Morning

December 16, 2015.  I walk down to Dead River this morning. The spring-like weather continues, with a high this afternoon reaching 72º. The switch cane in the former logging road leading to the river has gradually thinned out over the years, probably due to shading from an encroaching canopy, but I am puzzled why the […]

Timber Doodles and Ticks

December 12, 2015.  Even at 9 AM, the weather is almost balmy, and the high is forecast to be 78º. By noon I have peeled off two layers of clothes and am down to a T-shirt. This is some kind of weather! I cover some of the same ground I did two days ago. Birdlife […]

A Balmy Fall

December 10, 2015. We have enjoyed more than two weeks of ideal, clear weather – lows at night in the mid-to-lower forties, daytime highs in the upper 60s. A warming trend is developing throughout the country, caused by the jet stream blocking cold, arctic air from flowing southward.  Here it is two weeks before Christmas […]

A Fall Walk

November 29, 2015.  Finally, after more than three weeks of flooding and high water, I’m able to actually put my feet on swamp soil. The muck swamp this fine November morning looks like a high tide that has just receded, which is basically what happened as the water dropped quickly from flood stage last night, […]

The Dark Side of the Swamp

November 25, 2015.  The swamp, including the low boardwalk, has been partially flooded these past few days. The Big Flood of 2015 has continued now, with minor ebbing here and there, for almost eight weeks. The most recent flooding finally subsided on November 17, with the Congaree dropping below fourteen feet at the park. It […]

Essay: Congaree’s Cypress Story

That wonderful 1963 National Park study that declared Congaree Swamp worthy of protection within the national park system used the term “near-virgin” to describe the floodplain’s old-growth forest. This was because much of the park’s virgin cypress had been logged in the early 1900s. The evidence was plainly seen in the form of cut cypress […]

Scenic Bluffs

November 13, 2015.  The fall of 2015 will surely go down as one of the biggest flood seasons for the park in the past fifty years. The swamp, in fact, is still underwater from a big flood nine days ago. So I have no recourse except to walk the Cedar Creek Bluffs. Not that I […]