Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kayaking the Tidal Waters of St. Simons Island, Georgia: A Road Scholar/Elderhostel Program

This Road Scholar/Elderhostel program was hosted by The Center for Educational Adventure and featured four paddle trips. The first was out of Darien, GA and after a spectacular seafood lunch at Skipper's, we kayaked up Cathead and Otter Creeks and then meandered through old rice plantation fields, some of which were marsh areas and some now overtaken by Cypress trees which required careful maneuvering  through the magnificent landscape...



The second day we kayaked Postell Creek which looped an hour through a salt marsh...


...before crossing the St. Simons channel where we landed on neighboring Sea Island's beach for an extraordinary box lunch from Sea Palms.  A beach hike was next and I came upon this ghost crab (aka sand crab) scuttling across the beach.  It was my first encounter with one and I watched it, fascinated by its ugly/cute facial features (nothing like this back in Chicago) and soon I was joined by other similarly awed Road Scholars...





The next morning we were treated to a 2.5 hour bus/history tour of St. Simons Island by local historian Jenny Strauss, including a stop at the lighthouse in the downtown or "Village" area...



We also saw the home that Margaret Mitchell lived in while researching for Gone With the Wind and we drove through the huge plantation upon which the Tara estate was based.  It was interesting to learn that Scarlet and Butler were two wealthy local families whose names she borrowed for her main characters.

A tour of the remains of Fort Frederica and a visit to Christ Church concluded the tour. The church was started during the 18th century by John Wesley, the minister of the colony, assisted by his brother Charles, and they later returned to England and founded the Methodist Church. I've visited the church two previous times, but this was a special treat because it was my first opportunity to enter the beautiful structure which was constructed of valuable rare lumber and built by shipwrights.



Our third paddle was from Brunswick on the mainland after a tasty seafood lunch at popular local restaurant, Spanky's, and then we put-in next door at South East Adventure's dock into Clubs Creek where we paddled the salt marsh.  The original plan was to cross the sound to Jekyll Island, rest, and then paddle across to St. Simons lsland, but a 20+ mph wind was churning larger than usual waves, so instead we headed directly across to St. Simon, fighting growing waves that eventually hit 2.5 feet and more in height.  We rested a bit on the beach before heading out again to get around a sand bar and over to the take-out. My rudder pedals broke and I had no place to brace my knees, so when we turned broadside to the high waves, I capsized and lost my underwater digital camera to the Atlantic, so no photos of the day's paddle (though there is footage in the movie below.)

Our fourth and final paddle was 10 miles up Lower Satilla River (with the tide but often against the wind) seeing only infrequent cabins and no roads or cars or bridges until the takeout. Lovely greening trees and azaleas made for scenic viewing as we progressed up the river, stopping for another tasty sack lunch on one of the few sand beaches.


After quick showers at the hotel, it was back on the bus for a final dinner together, this time at Gnat's, yet another wonderful St. Simons Island seafood restaurant.

Lectures on "Barrier Island Dynamics" and "The Shrimping Industry" rounded out the week's educational offerings.

Our final event was Friday morning when Tony, our superb coordinator, brought reptiles from his other job as education director of Driftwood Education Center. His three friends were a kingsnake, a large slider turtle, and this corn snake...


Here's the entire crew of intrepid kayakers (minus three who left early):



Here's a movie of our week paddling tidal waters of Georgia...




Here are additional photos of the week.

For more of my Elderhostel/Road Scholar adventures, go here.

1 comment:

Fieldcrest Apartments said...



Nice Photos ,Thanks for sharing useful post with us.I also Was planning to Do Rafting in Georgia with my Friends, I think it was great idea to weekends.