November Edisto Beach Trip III

Early morning light…

My last full day on Edisto Beach was a busy one indeed. I embarked on my now regular sunrise walk noticing the very subdued colors this morning. There was a thick cloud cover as I started out but eventually the sun broke through the clouds and created some awesome reflections on the water.

The first large gathering of sea gulls I’ve seen all week
The sun breaking through the clouds

After my morning stroll along the shoreline, my sister, cousin, nephew and I rode over to a local eatery called the Sea Cow for breakfast. It’s a funky, little establishment that is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike serving up an excellent breakfast. I enjoyed a perfectly cooked two-egg cheese and spinach omelet embellished with fresh, homemade biscuits and the best southern-style grits I’ve ever tasted! Yum, yum!! ๐Ÿ™‚

We returned to the beach house after breakfast to visit with my niece and her two young boys before she returned home for their afternoon naps. My plan for the afternoon was to explore the Edisto Beach State Park. No one else was interested in hiking through the park, so I got dropped off at the entrance to the park by my sister and cousin – who decided to do a little shopping and also taxi my nephew to a disc golf park.

Start of my hike along the Spanish Mount Trail

I stopped in at the park ranger station before wandering off so I could get a map of the trails and some information. The two women in the office were so nice! One woman highlighted several places of interest and explained that all trails were open with the exception of a portion of the Scott Trail. In all, there are probably only 5-6 miles of trails and they are all level, hard-packed and easy on the feet. Good thing because I had arrived in sandals – not exactly good hiking shoes! After chatting with these park employees, I decided on a route and phoned my sister to let her know when and where they could pick me up later.

My hike started at the beginning of the Spanish Mount Trail. This trail is a one-way 1.7-mile hike out to the marsh and ends at an interesting archeological site. The trail winds through the maritime forest of South Carolina coast.

I took a short detour along the portion of the Scott Creek Trail that was open

The maritime forest is a unique ecosystem that is extremely important to preserve and protect. This natural environment serves as a protective shield for the coastline and salt marches – helping to stabilize the shoreline, provide storm protection and conserve groundwater while supporting a diverse plant and animal population. The plants growing in the maritime forest are adapted to this harsh environment – tolerating the dry, sandy soils and salt spray. I love exploring ecosystems that are foreign to me having grown up in the northeast. There is so much beauty in nature! Plants common to this area include the majestic live oak, laurel oak, palmetto, loblolly and slash pine and red cedar.

One of several boardwalks traversing the salt march

The Spanish Mount Trail ends at an open water section of the salt marsh along a bank that holds a important Native American archeological site . At this location is an ancient shell midden (aka trash heap) created by the Edisto native Americans somewhere around 2,000 BC.

Remnants of the ancient shell midden
An interpretive offers an explanation of the shell mound
Another section of the shell midden

After wandering around the shell midden and conversing with a couple of fishermen who were in a small boat just off-shore there, I followed the .4-mile Big Bay Trail that leads from the terminus of the Spanish Mount Trail to the Environmental Learning Center. Before reaching the environmental center, the trail passes through the public boat launch area that provides access to the waters of the salt marsh. From the dock, there’s a great view over to Edisto Beach.

The Environmental Learning Center is located in a “green” building and serves as the educational and outreach center for the park. The center offers programs for all age groups with a focus on the unique aspects of the ACE Basin and the responsible management of coastal resources. An interpretive exhibit in the main building emphasizes the importance of the natural history of the area and the ACE Basin – which is the largest estuarine reserve on the East Coast. I learned that ACE stands for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and  Edisto Rivers whose waters form the estuary that comprises over 350,000 acres. I found the exhibit on the loggerhead turtles that nest on the island particularly interesting!

The porch of the Environmental Learning Center

The Bache Monument Trail is a short, easy .2-mile walk that leads from the learning center to the Bache Monument. Alexander Bache was a scientist and surveyor in the mid-1850’s who was instrumental in completing a mapping of the entire coastline during his tenure as superintendent of the US Coast Survey. He was the great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin and obviously inherited the “inventive” gene. Bache developed a tool known as the “Bar of Invariable Length” that was used for this survey that culminated in measuring the entire eastern US coastline. Two of the baseline markers for this survey are on Edisto Island.

Explanation of the markers
Bache marker
Other side of the Bache marker

While waiting for my ride, I walked down to the fishing pier near the learning center to take another peek at the waterway winding through the salt marsh.

Boardwalk out to fishing pier
This display was so informative!!

Exploring the maritime forest and coastal waters was so much fun! Overall, I hiked about 6 miles in the park and learned a lot about this diverse, ecologically important area. I highly recommend spending time hiking or biking these trails and enjoying the serenity and charm of the South Carolina low-country. Later that day, we drove over to my brother’s house for a low-country boil which is a regional delight! The dish consists of shrimp, pork sausage, corn on the cob, and potatoes all boiled in a large stockpot outdoors – with a special seasoning. It’s a great meal to feed a crowd!

A nice finale to a wonderful week at Edisto Beach! ๐Ÿ™‚

November Photo of the Day 11.18.21

Edisto Sunrise

On our third day at Edisto Beach, the clouds started rolling in which created some interesting sky patterns at day break. Just a quick photo today as I’ve been busy with other tasks! Tomorrow I’ll share thoughts and photos on my solo trek through the maritime forest in Edisto Beach State Park. Cheers for today! ๐Ÿ™‚

November Edisto Beach Trip II

Sea Oats along the dunes at sunrise

We were blessed with spectacular sunrises each morning during our weeklong adventure on Edisto Island. At the start of our week, the morning sky was cloudless with a brilliant ribbon of color along the horizon.

Colors reflecting in the water..
Here comes the sun!
“I’m taking a walk, I’m going outside, I’m watching the birds, I’m just getting by”….John Prine

Our second day on the South Carolina coast we decided to take a road trip to Wadmalaw Island to engage in a wine tasting at the Deep Water Vineyard. Started in 2001 and under new management since 2015, the vineyard and winery features 5 unique wines made from 4 varieties of muscadine grapes – a true native grape to the southeastern United States. The winery also partners with a California vineyard to expand their wine selection by importing grapes from that region to create another half dozen or so special blends.

On 48 acres of low-country land, they grow and bottle their wine – selling their product at local venues and shipping all over the United States. Each year they host four seasonal festivals. In August, the Grape Stomp Festival kicks off with a Lucille Ball character contest and features the seasonal Have a Ball, Lucille strawberry wine. We tasted this wine and ended up purchasing a bottle to share later on at the beach house. I have to admit it I’m not much for sweet wine but it was darned tasty!! ๐Ÿ™‚

The grounds of the winery are typical of the low-country landscape and inviting. Self-guided tours through the vineyard are offered as well as places to sit, relax and/or enjoy a picnic.

Rows of grape vines..
Very inviting!!

After leaving the winery, our designated driver (who limited her wine tasting dramatically) drove us to another Wadmalaw Island attraction – the Charleston Tea Garden – the only large-scale tea farm in North America. The first successful U.S. propagation and production of tea bushes – Camillia sinensis – took place in Summerville, SC in 1888 and was known as the Pinehurst Tea Plantation. In 1915, the operation ceased and the plants grew wild until 1963 when the tea bushes were transplanted to an experimental research farm on Wadmalaw Island. William Hall purchased the research farm in 1987 and converted the whole operation to a commercial enterprise and the Charleston Tea Plantation was established. Partnering with the Bigelow family in 2003, the farm is thriving – offering free tours of the tea making plant and grounds. The on-site gift shop sells the various varieties of black and green teas produced here as well as offering free tastings. According to the website, in 2020, the company changed the name to the Charleston Tea Garden – in an effort to recognize the negative connotation that the word “plantation” evokes in the south.

I’m also impressed by the fact that the company is environmentally sensitive and uses no pesticides. They have also developed an irrigation system that enables them to “rely solely on rain and pond water to hydrate our young tea plants.” The Covid-19 friendly video tour of the plant was short but very informative. ย 

Historical Marker

During the video tour, I learned there are about 5-6 flushes of new growth each season on the tea bushes. It is this new growth that is harvested for tea production. A customized tractor was made specifically for this purpose. It travels down the rows of tea bushes, cutting off the new growth and depositing it into a hopper for transport back to the plant – creating the perfectly pruned “flat-topped” bushes seen in the background.

Custom-made tea harvesting tractor
An employee weeding and working among the tea bushes
Alley of Live Oaks at the tea garden

It was a great day exploring the low-country south of Charleston followed by a relaxing evening gazing out over the ocean on our beachfront porch!

November Edisto Beach Trip I

Shorebirds on Edisto Beach

I just returned from a short family vacation on Edisto Beach in South Carolina. The weather was absolutely glorious with sunny 70+ degree days and moderate nighttime temperatures. My routine each morning consisted of rising early, before anyone else was stirring, to brew a pot of coffee and watch the sunrise. I generally poured my first cup into an insulated thermos and headed for the beach. We rented a small beachfront cottage that made access to the shoreline exceptional as well as providing us with a front row seat to the sunrise! What a great way to start the day! I walked for an hour each morning along the shoreline – taking photos and enjoying the antics of the shorebirds and the flying skills of the brown pelicans as they skimmed the surface of the water in search of food. For the rest of the week, I’ll share some of my photographs and adventures of the trip!

Balancing Act

November Photo of the Day 11.06.21

Birch tree grouping….

After the fall leaves drop and before the snow flies, the subdued colors of the November landscape are so easy on the eyes. There’s magic in each season!

I walked back to the pond to check things out and was amazed at the perfect reflection of the sugarhouse in the water.

November Photo of the Day 11.05.21

Old Rock Wall in the Woods

This morning I was focused on going over my camera equipment – cleaning, sorting and deciding what I want to bring on my week-long trip to South Carolina. I did have one persistent problem that I was hoping to solve with the help of my husband. Over the summer, I discovered that the UV filter on my zoom lens was stuck. On that particular day, I wanted to change out the UV filter for my polarizing filter since I planned on shooting near the ocean and it was a bright blue, sunny day. I tried to remove it to no avail. My quick solution was to screw the polarizing filter over the UV for the day – not ideal but that’s what I did.

Today, I searched online for advice and tricks of the trade. I found a website that listed 10 potential methods to employ to loosen a lens filter and my husband and I worked through each one. Gently tapping the lens with another object while trying to turn with our fingers did not budge the lens. Placing a rubber band around the perimeter of the filter helps improve the grip on the lens and supposedly works most of the time. Nope! Since it was below freezing temperatures outside this morning, I set the camera out on the front porch in the hopes of contracting the materials enough to loosen the threads. Not a chance! We even tried some really grippy rubber gloves – still no luck.

Another remedy involved screwing on an additional lens filter to the outside of the stuck lens in the hopes of affecting the shape of the filter, thus releasing the threads. I balked at trying this since I did not want to end up with two stuck lenses!! ๐Ÿ™‚

There’s a handy tool photographers use called a filter wrench that solves the problem most of the time. Unfortunately, I do not have a lens filter wrench. (But, it’s on my wish list now!) My husband, being the mechanic that he is, suggested trying to use an oil filter wrench. I was skeptical but told him to give it a shot. He has two different size oil filter wrenches – unfortunately one was too small and the other too big!

As we were working down the “top ten fixes” list, we did notice there was a small dimple on the UV lens filter where it had obviously been damaged. I suspect that this is what’s causing the difficulty in removing the lens. This past summer I took a spill while carrying my camera and landed backwards on the rocky Acadian coast. I was unharmed but my camera experienced a slight impact with a big rock. I thought the lens hood took the brunt of the impact – but, who knows….

Turning my attention to removing damaged lens filters, I watched a video where a guy tried to “pry” back the dimple in his lens filter enough to allow it to unthread. My husband ever so gently tried this technique using some pliers to straighten out our “dimple” but it did not loosen the lens filter at all. At this point I was getting desperate and discouraged. We kicked around the idea of using an adjustable-type wrench – very, very carefully – to loosen the filter. His channel locks would not open wide enough nor did he have an adjustable wrench wide enough. His final solution was to use a pipe wrench – and that is what ultimately did the trick!! He taped up the ends so as not to damage the filter and with extreme caution applied a small amount of torque.

I DO NOT recommend anyone else try this method! I’m emphatic about that and I’ve learned a lesson from all of this. I will periodically check my lens filter and make sure it is not tightening up! I will also buy that darned lens filter wrench!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Evergreen ferns at the base of an old maple tree

November Photo of the Day 11.04.21

Milkweed Seed Pods

We have a large naturally occurring cluster of milkweed in the meadow adjacent to our pond. There are so many native and introduced plants whose seed pods are absolutely amazing and just as interesting as their flowers. Milkweed is one of those native plants that continue to perform well into fall. Isn’t nature cool?! ๐Ÿ™‚

November Photo of the Day 11.03.21

Wild Apple Tree

My late afternoon walk today was chilly but beautiful. The rain/sleet mixture we experienced in the early afternoon gave way to blue skies late in the day and I headed out to get some fresh air. This old roadside apple tree caught my eye. Many of the wild apple trees have shed their fruit but this tree is still clinging to its apples!

Towards the end of my walk, the clouds were putting on a good show reflecting the setting sun light.

November Photo of the Day 11.2.21

Snow on this date last year!

Yesterday I went for my annual physical and received two shots – a flu vaccine and a shingle’s vaccine. Today I’m feeling a slight normal reaction to these injections – headache, muscle aches, very sore arm, etc. So, I decided to look at photos from this time last year to post since I was not feeling up to a walk-about today.

I was surprised to realize that we had a dusting of snow on this day one year ago! The forecast tomorrow is calling for possible snow flurries in the morning before the temperatures rise – so not surprising!

And, just for fun – I’m posting another November photo from two years ago. No this is not Vermont!! Ha! I’m getting ready once again for our annual family get together in South Carolina and was perusing my photographs from a previous trip. The weather can be iffy on Edisto Island in November but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we will enjoy the same temperatures and sunny days previously experienced in 2019. A shout-out to my birding friends – please identify for me this bird! My shorebird knowledge is a tad light! ๐Ÿ™‚

Shorebird catching the light!

November Photo of the Day 11.01.21

The month of November is kicking off with clear skies and moderate temperatures! ๐Ÿ™‚ Sunrise this morning produced some great vivid colors reflecting off the clouds. Our red oak tree in the front yard has yet to drop its leaves and they were all aglow with the early morning light – beautiful!