Saturday, May 2, 2009

South Carolina

On Thursday we went down to Congaree National Park, located near Columbia, South Carolina. Congaree Swamp is an area of old-growth forest, containing some of the tallest trees in the eastern US. Although it's called a swamp, it's actually a floodplain for the Congaree River. As we neared the park, I suddenly noticed that all of the trees had their leaves. It was a pretty dramatic change, and Bea said we had reached the Coastal Plain. These trees looked like they were at least a month ahead of New York; of course, SC is one of the hottest places in the country! Early April was probably the perfect time to go there. The park itself has an extensive network of trails, some of which would probably take a day to hike, as well as camping, fishing and boating facilities. There's also a visitor's center, where we stopped first, and a boardwalk through the park for people like us who were only there for a few hours. Along the path, I noticed that some trees had a bunch of knobby shoots sticking up from the ground around them, which were part of the root system of cypress trees. Biologists aren't sure what purpose they serve. They looked like stalagmites in a cave.

About two-thirds of the way down the path, I noticed a weird metal thing rusting in the forest. It looked like a big piece of trash, but I knew there was no way something like that would be allowed to just sit in a national park like that. It turned out that it was an old still! During Prohibition people in the area made a pretty nice profit selling illicit homemade liquor, and they used the Congaree Swamp because it was easy to hide there. When park employees found that still, they decided to leave it there as an artifact of the park's history.

And that's about it. It may not seem like the most exciting vacation, but I got to add two more states to my list and spend time exploring a part of the country I hadn't seen much of before.

1 comment:

David Shankbone said...

The still was a cool discovery.