This trip report is a compilation of multiple trips to the same area.
The photos are mostly nature photos, focusing on trees, and represent how I spent my time in the area. This is just a hobby and learning experience for me, as I work toward my Master Naturalist Certification. (sounds fancy but it's a fairly simple statewide program)
I hope you enjoy.
Physiographic Location: Lower Coastal Plain of South Carolina, a sub region of the Coastal Plain stretching from New Jersey to Texas.
Locale description: Multiple freshwater Islands located on a lake system created in the 1940's by damming up large tracts of farmland. Work done by the Army Corp of Engineers. Aquatic & semi aquatic plants & trees abound here. The area holds records in Catfish, Stripped Bass, and American Alligator.
Satellite images from Google Earth.
Very short video of a big storm starting to roll in. 'Cause Mother Nature don't care where you camped'.
If you are tent camping, this is the best spot. The interior of the island is heavily forested, giving way to wetland. Hammock camping is possible farther inland but progress can be slow and aggravating, staying inland does offer shelter from the high winds coming off the lake.
So after getting some food and setting up my shelter (which is a surprise I'm saving for a gear review) I get my camera & field guides and go exploring the area.
As I walk along the beach-head I stop to take photos of the Bald Cypress trees that grow out in the water here. You can see trees growing as far out as a 1/4 mile from land. Really cool!
Bald Cypress or Taxodium distichum, grow here in amazing numbers, the environment is almost perfect for them. They grow out in the water as well as all around the edges of the islands. Cypress can grow with their trunks submerged, or in damp soil.
In the middle of this photo: Under the twig with the Cypress needles you can see a whitish growth called a Gall. These Galls are caused by an insect, the Cypress Twig Gall Midge. The Midge lays it's eggs in the terminal bud and the fly larva survive the winter inside the gall.
Here on the left you can see the Cypress growing (brownish color) on the outer section of the island. On the right you can see how a mixed Pine & Hardwood forest (mostly green) defines the interior of the island.
The overall diversity of life here is truly amazing, especially the mammals considering these are small islands with no land bridge.
I have found: Raccoon - Opossum - WT deer - Marsh Rabbit - Gray Squirrel - Copper Head & Cottonmouth snakes - Alligator - Turtle - Red Crayfish - Snapping Turtles - and numerous other reptiles & amphibians.
Bald Eagle - Osprey - Hawks - Owls - Pileated Woodpecker - Prothonotary Warbler - Brown Pelican - Great Blue Heron - Little Blue Heron - Egret - and many other fascinating birds.
As you move into the interior of the island the ecosystem changes dramatically. You are no longer walking across a wide open beach covered in packed sand with Cypress, Oak, and Pine trees.
As you move into the interior of these islands you encounter a mixed forest, comprised of, but not limited to:
Bald & Pond Cypress - Sand & Water Oak - Sweet Gum - Swamp Chestnut Oak - Tupelo - Honey Locust - Water Hickory - Sand Willow - Titi - Elm - Cottonwood - Sycamore - Red Maple - Pond Pine - Slash Pine.
Typical ecosystem along the edges of the wetland areas. Note all the Cypress knees sticking out of the ground.
I am reminded of how diverse the area is and how lucky I am to be able to study it in such a pristine state.
There are probably more species here than I will ever be able to learn, the numbers of grasses - vines - shrubs - etc. is currently overwhelming to me, but at the same time is a wealth of species to study.
I hope to get to come here for many years, I have come to love these wetland areas the Coastal Plain has to offer.
Thanks, Mike G.