Just Jeff's Hiking Page

"Going to the woods is going home, for I suppose
we came from the woods originally."

- John Muir

Congaree National Park, SC
17-18 November 2007

(Click map for full enlargement)

DISCUSS this trip HERE.

17 November 2007
Joker and I went on a quick overnighter to Congaree National Park...just a couple hours from home, but a really nice trip. We stopped by the Visitor Center to register and Joker enjoyed checking out all the displays. One particularly cool one was a model of a big tree, maybe 3' diameter, that had fallen down...several animals had made home in it, one area had termites, another area had the bark pulled away to show grubs, etc. It was a pretty good illustration of how trees continue their contributions to the cycle even after they've fallen.
After registering, we had to go back outside the gated lot for overnight parking. That only added a mile or two to the whole trip, IIRC, so it wasn't a big deal. Here's Joker getting kitted up to start walking. We did have to hike past the Visitor Center again, though, b/c our route took us across the boardwalk to get to the River Trail, where we camped just out of sight of the river. All the trees right next to the river were too scraggly to hang from, but it was only a~30 second walk to get there. You can see our route on the map above.
We hiked near several streams like this one...very nice and peaceful. As we got near this one, a huge frog kerplunked into the water...even thru the ripples we could see him swimming. Would have made some nice frog legs!
These three pictures are from the first sandbar we stopped at. As soon as we got to the Congaree River, we pulled off for a bit to eat lunch - just some subs we packed in. It was pretty peaceful, but Joker had to run around a bit and get some energy out. It was starting to get late, though, so we didn't spend a lot of time before we started looking for a place to hang.

A lot of the trees in this area were either too scraggly or too close together to hang from, so we kept hiking clockwise around the loop to find a good place to hang. It didn't take too long, though...

...and the place we found was almost in sight of the river, but it was a great site because there was another sandy beach.

I hung both hammocks from the same suspension so I could put both of us inside the Hammock Sock aka Travel Pod. You can't see my hammock in this picture, but Joker stayed in the DownHammock...it's the green hammock you can see there, with the ridgeline attached. We were pretty close all night, but at slightly different heights so it was pretty comfortable. He was 8 on this trip, so it's nice to be able to reach over and make sure he's covered up, not sweating, etc.

Below are two details of how I did the suspension...I had one set of tree huggers with an SMC descending ring on them, then the Spectra slipknotted to the ring (with a safety or two to make sure it doesn't slip until I want it to). Then I put a small piece of BPL's Air Core Plus onto my Spectra to hang Joker's hammock. Both went inside the Hammock Sock's opening.

18 November 2007
On the hike in yesterday, we saw a lot of places where the ground had been tilled up by warthogs. They can be nasty critters when they want to be, so I kept a look out for them but never saw anyway. HOWEVER...I woke up around 2am to crashing leaves and snorting. Laid there for a little while...it didn't go away. Getting closer. Must be at the edge of our camp, based on the sound. Better take a look...grab the headlamp and unzip the Sock...

Nothing on the perimeter, but I can still hear him. Loud, snorting and rooting in the earth. Lay back down and see how long it takes him to go away.

He's not going away...he's getting closer. Better get up and see, so I walk to the thicket of trees where I hear him and shine my light in. Good thing I'm armed...with a hiking pole! (Seriously...I'm gonna take on a warthog with a hiking pole?) It's all I have, and I just need to make sure he won't bother the camp. I step into the thick and shine the light around.

He must see the light because he stops rooting. Silence, as we stare each other down. Or at least he's staring me down because I can't see him. A snort. I'm still. Another snort. I'm still. He starts rooting again. Whatever...he's not interested in us, so I go back to bed. Takes a little while to fall asleep, but he was still making noise when I fell asleep.

Joker and I used the JetBoil to make oatmeal in a freezerbag for breakfast on the sandy beach right next to camp. He decided to dig a big hole while I was making breakfast...I wish it would always be that easy to keep him entertained!
There were all kinds of tracks on our beach in the morning...and hardly any of them were there the night before so we had lots of nighttime visitors. Here's Joker exploring all the tracks.

The tracks below were made by a heron.

These tracks above look like a fox to me. Similar to dog tracks, but we didn't hear any dogs or see any strays, and dogs generally aren't nocturnal.
Raccoon tracks above.
These cloven tracks are from the warthogs...there were at least two of them based on the size, and some of the tracks shows the hoof halves spread apart like they were running. We didn't hear any commotion other than the one rooting around at 2am.
Joker and me on the hike out. This was a pretty neat little area...it was a strip about 100 yards across where the trees, light and sounds were different. I wish I knew what caused it, but these trees were older and bigger, with none of the thick undergrowth that the other areas of this forest had. Joker wanted to stop and take a picture.

One other little thing happened on this trip. Before I left work on Friday, I told everyone at work I was going camping...except for the one guy who wasn't there, and he's the one who got called in over the weekend, and tried to get ahold of me. The campsite was out of cell range...so on the hike out I got the "blingedy-bling" that said I had a message waiting. It was my wife, and the message said, "Your pager has been going crazy and they can't get in touch with you!" Uh oh...so I called the office and said it would take me a few hours to get back. We hiked pretty quickly to get back to the Jeep, but by the time I got home everything was settled enough to wait until Monday. It was almost a big deal, but everything turned out ok.

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