Friday, April 06, 2012
After a good night's sleep at the local Holiday Inn ( I splurged and the manager had pity on me, giving me the manager's special), I headed out at the break of dawn for another day. I was excited to see what South Carolina had in store for me.
The Palmetto state has brought me a lot of bad memories in the past: puke on a hotel comforter ( someone else's, that we didn't see until we were leaving), a girlfriend who was from SC, who broke up with me, a stolen bicycle.....
I was excited and hopeful that this trip would prove a positive experience, and that I was find some things about the state that I loved and would want to return for. Little did I know I would look forward to another visit.
So, I rolled out of the hotel for 5 miles of pavement before getting back on the trail. I pedaled through the recreation area and made haste to get past it lest the creepy old dude was back, "hanging out".
First up was 24 miles of the Lake Moultrie Passage:
Scenic and with two easy access points — each just a short distance from some remote and beautiful country — it’s still one of the most popular, especially with mountain bikers. The trail rings Lake Moultrie’s eastern and northern shores via service roads along the lake’s dike system. At the southern trailhead (Canal Recreation Area) the trail begins with a short stretch through a pine forest and climbs steps up the earthen Pinopolis East Dike for spectacular views of the lake, especially at sunset. The northern portion of the trail continues along the dike system until you cross the Old Santee Canal on an old railroad trestle. The last few miles of the Lake Moultrie Passage push through a mature hardwood and pine forest that includes some of the trail’s most interesting terrain.
And it was definitely scenic. Double track packed pea gravel, riding along on top of a dyke, next to a huge expanse of water. After yesterday's 5-7mph avg, I was able to get in the big ring some today, and cruise at a speed of 15-18 mph, nice.
Along the above section, I caught glimpses of two 6 ft alligators and a smaller 3 foot one. I also got to see a bald eagle, which really made me happy!Up next was the Eutaw Springs Section, 20 miles:
More than a simple connector trail between Orangeburg and Berkeley counties, the Eutaw Springs Passage of the Palmetto Trail pushes through a varied terrain of grassy pastures, tiny downtown Eutawville and shady dirt roads and past the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Eutaw Springs.
Although the southern portion of the trail follows rural dirt roads through some unremarkable terrain, the best part of this trail comes closer to Eutawville where you’ll travel through old pasture fields once part of a dairy farm. A spur trail through Santee Cooper Wildlife Management Area is closed periodically in which case, signs will indicate closure and you must use the Palmetto Trail route along Fredcon Road. The trail ends at Eutawville Community Center, close to downtown shops and lots of friendly people.
Followed by 13 miles of The Santee Passage:
Lots of dirt roads and time on rural highways make this a pleasant trip for mountain bikers. However, hikers may have to spend more time in “civilization” than we usually prefer. The 13-mile passage winds through the predominantly agricultural lands of eastern Orangeburg County and uses many “farm-to-market” roads. Meanwhile, the adjacent lands present a tapestry of color and texture with a variety of crops such as cotton, wheat, soybeans and canola. Nearby produce stands offers seasonal delights including fresh strawberries, blueberries and peaches. The pot of gold on this trail is the shady portion across land owned by farmers Ira and Mona Avinger. Take time to enjoy your time in the pine woods and beneath some whopping oak trees. This passage eventually crosses under bustling Interstate 95 on dirt roads and emerges at the tourist town of Santee.
I made it to the town of Santee, crossed the bridge and found a campground for the night. I was excited to be camping tonight, but less excited when the sun set, and the street lights came on all over the campground. Unfortunately for me, the flat tent site that I had chosen, also had two street lights in close proximity. I ended up falling asleep for a couple of hours, with a knee warmer across my face...
Next up: The Lake Marion Passage
Posted by Stephen at 4:34 PM