Ten Days on the Lynches Scenic River Water Trail
The following journal was compiled during ten days of travel by canoe and kayak on the Lynches Scenic River. The purpose of the trip was to compile information and data to include in the DNR's Lynches Scenic River Water Trail Guide. On day one on the trip, I was accompanied by Elizabeth Ossier; a DNR fisheries biologist with Region II, Kelly King, a DNR 2008 summer intern; and Jennie Williamson of the Pee Dee Land Trust. Kimberly Meitzen, a 2008 DNR summer geomorphologist with our Geology Section, and myself paddled the entire trail.
— Mary Crockett, State Scenic Rivers program coordinator
As we passed the throw-in sites along the bank of Loop Road in Lee State Natural Area, the wind kicked up, rain clouds approached and the sound of thunder made us look for a place to weather the storm. A few bends beyond Interstate-20 we found a gravel bar with small trees, so we pulled the canoe onto the bar, and unloaded the gear, extra life jackets and the tarp. Turning over the canoe and taking our paddles, we worked quickly to improvise a shelter. While sitting on our lifejackets to make sure no part of our bodies touched the ground under our temporary shelter, we discussed the river as the storm rolled over us. During the summer months in South Carolina, thunder storms can occur every afternoon. The year 2008 was a drought year and rainstorms were infrequent, so during a ten-day survey trip of the river it only rained twice. After an hour and a half rain break, we were back on the river to record our observations for the boating guide.
Our first day started early in the morning at the Highway 15 Landing near Bishopville. We glided past gravel bars and around downfall, under a railroad bridge and an interstate, observing and recording all we saw while paddling this zippy river. We observed an upper coastal plain ecosystem with an overstory of sycamore, sweetgum, loblolly pine, red maple and many species of oaks and an understory made up primarily of river birch, dogwood and sourwood. Some of the fauna we viewed and recorded on our first day on the river included deer, turtles, snakes, alligators and many types of birds. The Lynches Scenic River Water Trail Guide contains checklist tables for the observant boater to record their sights. We paused to assess possible sites for the Pee Dee Land Trust’s proposed Evelyn and Rivers Scarborough Camping Platform. A mile or so later, we spotted our shuttle vehicles sitting at the Highway 401 Landing. This 8-hour trip took us 15.5 river miles at a flow of 319 cubic feet per second (cfs) or 5.63 feet on the Bishopville gauge. The flow and stage foot numbers may be found on either the U.S. Geological Survey or S.C. Department of Natural Resources websites or in local newspapers. We unloaded and strapped down our boats on the trailer and headed to Lee State Natural Area to set up camp for the night and recharge our electronic equipment.
— Mary Crockett, State Scenic Rivers program coordinator.
© 2011 South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, September - October 2011 - www.scwildlife.com