Friday morning we packed up the car and left straight from work that afternoon. We had been worried about fitting everything into the car but it turns out we have plenty of room. Because everything fit so easily, we were actually worried we had left something behind.
Zach and the loaded up 4runner
We drove for about 5 hours on Friday night – ending up in Virginia. Friday night, we stayed at a hotel with a pool but it was pretty chilly so I just stood by the jet, trying to stay warm. The next day we were up early to drive the remaining 4 hours to our first stop, Congaree National Park.
Congaree National Park!
Congaree is the 4th smallest and 3rd newest National Park and has the feel of an unexceptional state park. It has some of the biggest trees in the eastern United states and wild hogs, which we were on the lookout for the entire time but didn’t see any. I’ve never spent much time in a swamp so it was interesting to experience, but I was also worried about running into alligators/poisonous snakes. The weather was very nice, around 70, and because it’s winter, there were no mosquitos, which can make the park unbearable in summer.
We backpacked in 5 miles and set up our tent on a sandbar on the Congaree River. The river floods about ten times a year and covers up to 80% of the park when it does. Luckily the water was very low and we were able to camp on the sandbar.
We set up camp too early and ending up running out of things to keep ourselves occupied after eating, going on a hike, playing blackjack, poker, war, cribbage, and doing crunches. It got cold pretty quickly after the sun set and since no fires are allowed in the backcountry, we went to bed early and slept for nearly 12 hours.
Sunrise over the Congaree
We backpacked out, stopped at the visitor’s center to ask a lot of questions about wild hogs and headed off to Charleston. Congaree was about what I expected. There’s no breathtaking sites or mountains to climb and only about 20 miles of total trails, but the visitor’s center’s nice and it wasn’t crowded once we left the boardwalk. My legs were thankful for the flat trails because they are out of backpacking shape.
Heading out Sunday morning
We’re in Charleston for the next two weeks. The weather forecast looks good – mid 70’s with rain possible. We’ll be checking out the beach, visiting Civil War sites (Fort Sumter has been on bucket list for a while) and acclimating to not working in the office.