Ten Days on the Lynches Scenic River Water Trail
Cooking a nice breakfast, breaking camp and setting up a shuttle run for the vehicles put us on the water a little later on day two. Two hours into the trip we had to choose whether to take the older river channel to the right or the newer river channel to the left. We decided on the river channel to the left and then log-jumped a fallen tree. Later we passed a large clear-cut logging operation that left one strip of trees standing near the water. We log-jumped three trees that were windblown across the river — one of many reasons better buffer ordinances are needed for our streamside riparian zones. Using a hand saw, we cut small branches out of our way as we paddled around the downfall. Along the entire length of the river, people have cut four-foot sections from trees that have crossed the river due to wind blow or bank erosion to enable small john boats and paddle crafts to easily float down the river.
Day two took 6 hours from the Highway 401 Landing to the Highway 76 Landing, and we again headed back to Lee State Natural Area’s campground to spend the night. The trip was 10 river miles at a flow of 224 cfs or five feet on the Bishopville gauge.
After breaking camp and running a shuttle, we were on the water by 10:30 a.m. The typically swift-moving current on the river at the Highway 76 Landing was slower and more lake-like than normal. Half-an-hour later, we did the limbo to get under a downed pine tree. Past this blow down, the floodplain is dense, lush and green, with lots of bird sounds. A prothonotary warbler crossed our path, and a kingfisher escorted us downriver. As we traveled under a power line crossing, we again had to choose which channel to take. Taking the channel to river left, the shorter path, we paddled stealthily around the bend and discovered three large bucks in full velvet. They watched us for a minute or so as they decided what to do. What a sight as they bounded off into the woods.
This river section exhibits a distinct change of vegetation as the upper coastal plain begins to give way to the lower coastal plain. The vegetation changes from an oak, sycamore, and river birch-dominated ecosystem to one featuring more bald cypress and tupelo. After about two hours on the water, we saw our first cypress trees (on river left) and stopped for pictures. We ate lunch on a sand/gravel bar in the middle of the channel shaded by cypress. Around 2 p.m. we paddled under Interstate-95, entering a figure-8 section of the river where the trip becomes both mentally and physically challenging, as you choose the channels you wish to paddle and live with the consequences of your choices. When we began hearing traffic noise from S.C. Highway 403, we knew we had to choose channels that would take us to the far left side of the river. A few minutes after going under the Highway 403 Bridge in the far left channel, we spotted the Sardis Baptist Church Landing on our left. Day three’s paddle was 11 river miles in 7 hours at a flow of 374 cfs or 3.37 feet on the Effingham gauge. We again traveled back to our campsite at Lee State Natural Area for a hot shower, a camp stove to cook a hot meal and a cooling electric fan as we enjoyed the sunset.
— Mary Crockett, State Scenic Rivers program coordinator.
© 2011 South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, September - October 2011 - www.scwildlife.com