Congaree Recap

Length of Stay:

  • 2 days, 3 nights


  • Accompanying a park rancher on her morning walkabout and receiving an hour-long personal lesson about the park’s plant life
  • Seeing an alligator relaxing in the lake
Scoping out some gators


  • I really wanted to see a feral pig (no luck)
  • Mosquito bites – 32, to be exact
“War Zone” must be deadly!

Favorite Hike:

  • Weston Lake Loop

Favorite Feeling:

  • Bliss – upon hooking up my MyPod for the first time and hearing the sweet hum of AC

Favorite Random Moment(s):

  • Having a baby boa constrictor flung around my shoulders at a flea market in attempts to get me to purchase a “new pet”.
  • Peach festival! There was a parade, live music, vendors, and, of course, peaches galore. I met a lovely couple (Byron and Shirley) who bought be something called a peach delight. Yum.20160704_203718

12 Miles, 3 Liters, 104 Degrees

Cypress trees have “knees” that are believed to help root them into the mucky soil

South Carolina is hot! During my first evening, I tried everything to get cool – max AC in my car, taking a cold shower, chomping on ice cubes – until I decided to simply embrace the heat.

And with that mentality I began my first day at Congaree National Park by taking a 12-mile hike. I figured that with enough water I could enjoy some solitude and see one of America’s largest old growth bottomland hardwood forests.

Thoroughly doused in bug spray? Trail map? Double-knotted shoes? Check, check, and check!

I set out and immediately became entranced with the complexity and serenity of the Congaree ecosystem. I also became immediately drenched in my own sweat and draped with a multitude of spider webs. Yet the hike was good! There were so many little things to notice: salamanders, crawfish burrows, brightly colored dragonflies, and an assortment of earthy smells. The trees alone were fascinating. You’d think that an entire forest would become mundane after a couple of hours, but I kept noticing particular things that made these trees diverse and interesting.

Check out this tree’s funky looking trunk

I came across one person on this particular hike: a park rancher on her way to check out some bat trees for the sake of data collection. We exchanged pleasantries regarding the weather* and then went on our ways.

Once I returned to my car, I was tired, dehydrated (my 3 liters ran out near the end), and cut up from bush whacking through a tricky section of the hike. But I was so happy and completely mesmerized by the natural world that I had experienced. In fact, as I fell to sleep that night, I could’t wait to go back and learn more about this magical slice of paradise.

* See sentence #1

A pensive moment