Hammock Camping

August 13-14, 2015.  A front has brought in an east wind to the Midlands. The humid weather has lifted a little (although that’s a relative term for August in South Carolina), and nightly lows for the next few days are forecast to be in the upper 60s. All in all, it sounds like pretty fair […]

Zebras, Spiders, and an Interesting Vine

August 7, 2015.  We had two-and-a-half inches of badly-needed rain yesterday afternoon at my house in Columbia, but it’s obvious not a drop fell here at the park, only fifteen miles away. It reaffirms that summer rainfall in South Carolina is local. Since my last visit five days ago, I see that the squirrels have […]

Possum on the Half Shell

August 2, 2015.  I decide on another night visit to the park to take advantage of a day-after full moon. Unfortunately, it does not rise until 9:15 and has still not cleared the trees by the time I leave the park thirty minutes after midnight. I start out on the high boardwalk. A light rain […]

Moonrise at Dawson’s

July 30, 2015.  Moonrise this evening is 7:45, one day shy of being full, and I decide on a moonlight paddle on Cedar Creek. When I arrive at the landing at 8:45 the katydids have already started singing, and a few cicadas are still calling at the end of the day shift. Cedar Creek is […]

Good To Be Back

July 27, 2015.  It has been six weeks since my last visit to the swamp, time occupied by a detour to Maritime Canada, where I was sleeping under two or three blankets at night and wearing a fleece pullover in the morning. The swamp is so different from Canada that I may as well have […]

Essay: Demise of the Canebrake

Many accounts by the early naturalists and travelers that explored the South mentioned the existence of dense canebrakes found along coastal rivers and swamps. Some of these canebrakes  covered hundreds, even thousands of acres, and extended for miles along river banks and channels. Indeed, these canebrakes were one of the most distinctive features of Southern […]

Peterson’s Challenge, Part 2

Five years after conducting my last breeding bird census at Congaree, one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the South Carolina coast in more than a century created catastrophic changes in much of South Carolina’s forestland. Hugo’s powerful winds passed through central South Carolina, and Congaree National Park, early on the morning of September […]

Essay: Peterson’s Challenge

For much of June and July, 2015, I made a detour from Congaree and visited Canada’s magnificent martime provinces. I will pick back up with Congaree Journal on July 27th but in the interim will post a couple of essays that I hope you will find interesting. Here is one I’m calling “Peterson’s Challenge.” In […]

Essay: Martin’s Folly

I became interested in the history of the Congaree back in the 1970s during the citizen’s campaign to save it. Detractors of a park insisted it was mostly second-growth forest that had grown up after old agriculture fields were abandoned after the Civil War. Park proponents disagreed and used the term “near-virgin forest” to describe […]

River Musings

June 11, 2015.  The air is thick with humidity this morning, and there’s fog in the bottoms and low areas. I’m walking along the old Bates Ferry Road (later developed by the park as the Bates Ferry Trail), a one-mile straight stretch of old causeway from US 601 to the Congaree River. It was constructed […]