Flooded Boardwalk

January 16, 2015.  After five dreary days of overcast, rain, and cold, the sun finally makes an appearance. Knowing the swamp is still partially-flooded, I decide to walk the low boardwalk in hip boots. Right now Cedar Creek is reading eight feet and dropping, having peaked at nine feet two days ago. The low boardwalk […]

Good Finds for the Day

January 10, 2015.  The weather has warmed up slightly since the day before yesterday, but there is still a lot of ice in the swamp. This morning’s weather is clear and cool, the high at 10:00 being about 35º. I am walking down the Sims Trail, and soon notice a lot of bird activity coming […]

A Frigid Morning

January 8, 2015.  I pick the coldest night of the young New Year to be in the swamp. I find out later that the thermometer registered 14º at 7:00 AM at the nearby weather station at McEntire Air National Guard Base. The mostly full moon in the southwestern sky is bright and lights up the […]

Drifting to Dawson’s

January 5, 2015.  I drive down late this evening for a moonlight paddle on Cedar Creek. By the time I get the kayak in the water it has turned dark. The creek gauge is reading 3.75 feet, and I decide to drift in the darkness to Dawson’s Lake. It takes thirty minutes. I feel like […]

Year’s End

December 31, 2014.  I have been laid low for nearly ten days with a respiratory bug. During my absence the swamp was partially flooded on December 27 from heavy rains, with the river rising to nearly fourteen feet and Cedar Creek topping out at seven feet, putting part of the low boardwalk under water. The […]

Essay: Secrets of the Sweetgums

To the average person a sweetgum is one of those weedy trees with the pesky, prickly balls that cover a lawn when they start falling. And they are correct. Sweetgums are often weedy in nature, and proliferate in hedgerows, abandoned fields, and so-called “waste places.” And stepping on a sweetgum ball barefooted is no fun. […]

Christmas Bird Count

December 14, 2014.  This morning I’m participating in Congaree’s annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) along with Steve McInnis and his wife Susan. The CBC is sponsored by the National Audubon Society and is one of the oldest, continuing field surveys of its kind in the world, dating back to 1900 when eminent ornithologist Frank M. […]

Kayak Camping

December 11, 2014.  Today I’ve put in my kayak at South Cedar Creek Landing for a two-night camp in the swamp. The weather couldn’t be better – at noon it’s in the upper 40s, with brilliant blue skies, low humidity, and a slight touch of breeze from the northwest. It’s the kind of ideal day […]

Smart Squirrels

December 6, 2014.  I’m set up well before dawn, leaning against a tree trunk on the south bank of Cedar Creek, having walked in from the parking lot at the South Cedar Creek canoe launch. Just before official sunrise at 7:11 AM, the woodpeckers wake up and begin drumming. Most of the sounds are coming […]

Sunrise in the Swamp

November 29, 2014.  The 6:00 AM temperature is hovering around freezing this black morning, but I’m sufficiently bundled up to stay warm. The half-moon has set and the pre-dawn sky is bright with stars. I’m sitting on a low boardwalk bench in the muck swamp, waiting for the swamp to start stirring. At 6:45 I […]