Sherri Berri and I
I saw Sherri pressure washing her kayaks on Facebook and said I’m ready! The Catawba River is to high and the put in’s are closed. So I asked around and Ginger (a friend) suggested Goodale State Park in Camden SC. Sherri and I googled it and said heck yea!
This park has a 3 mile Canoe trail that winds through a cypress swamp. It’s part of a 140 acre lake. We loaded up the Kayaks on top of my jeep and strapped them down. My first time doing this! Score one for the girl!
Camden is just over an hour from Rock Hill. We arrived at the park unloaded the kayaks and put them in. Hers is a sit upon and mine a sit in. The put in is in the big part of the lake. It’s mostly open water across except to the right it’s a bunch of cypress trees. The water is black. Dark black. We did not know where the canoe trail was so we paddled around these trees all the way to the back. The cypress got thicker as we paddled deep into the swamp area.
Then we circled back toward the open water and saw the trail. It was flagged by orange flagging tape on two trees where we entered.
It was a trail. It was marked on trees with signs that said trail on arrows that point you in the right direction.
The water was super clear but under it was so much vegetation. It was crazy like we were floating over someone’s garden. That creeps me out. The thought of falling in and having these plants touch me is completely terrorizing to me! So I try not to think about that! There were lots of Lilly pads. In the beginning they were small and brown, then they were big and red and way back on the trail they were big and green! The vegetation changed a lot the further we went. This next picture is what it looks like under the water!
This park is a must do for sure. The trail wound round and round through the cypress trees. We saw some great big birds flying around.
We saw some turtles but not nearly as many as I thought we would. There was a couple of white eggs up in the grass around a cypress tree. We didn’t take a closer look because we didn’t know whose they were. Shortly after that a kayaker was coming in the other direction and he told us there was a giant alligator toward the end right where a group of pine trees were. He said he was bigger than our kayak. He said he got some good pictures of it. We were excited! We wanted to see that!
Now there was more greenery. Palm fronds, plants and some yellow flowers back here. We kept following the trail looking for the gator. As I came around the bend I saw it!! I pointed toward it to warn Sherri. It was freaking huge! It didn’t even look real. It heard us and stood up. We were about 20 feet from it, me in the front and it turned and walked toward the water and I swear it was looking me straight in the eye! I wanted to reach for my camera so bad! I thought about it for a split second then my flight response kicked it and I started paddling backwards! My heart stopped. It was so big I bet it weighted a couple hundred lbs.
Sherri was saying oh my god oh that thing is huge! Is it real? We back tracked a bit then stopped. She wanted to go back and keep going. We were shaking but I said go on you lead!
We did the kayak equivalent of tip toeing back towards where it was. She said if we act like we didn’t see it we could just finish the trail! 🤦♀️ so we did! After a bit we were paddling like normal but the more we talked about it the more we managed to freak ourselves out again! I was like “it could be under us!” I was looking back and forth looking for it and I noticed Sherri doing the same!
The whole trip changed. Before we were Lolly gagging through the trail chit chatting like crazy. Now we were super quiet except when we talked about the gator. We decided those were gator eggs we saw! I googled it and they do like like gator eggs! But alligators have lots more eggs and stay close by I think.
After a while we were back to normal. Taking our time, chit chatting and googling! We found out this guy is called Elvis. He is rarely seen and keeps a low profile. Sherri and I each found a picture of it.
It looked a lot bigger than this especially when it stood up!
Back where the trail started we paddled to the left this time. There were lots more cypress trees. We came upon what looked like land to me. As we got nearer all we could figure was it was a giant floating island of debris. It was a trip. I could see under it but when I hit it with my paddle it was mostly solid! I’m not sure a person could stand on it. Weird.
Although that one picture looks like the alligator is sitting on it? I’m still kicking myself for being to chicken to get my own pic!
The wind was kicking up and the rain was coming so we paddled back across to where we started.
This was a great paddle trip! Solitude, adventure, nature, beauty! This one is a must do in our book! We were super stoked all the way back to Rock Hill.