For those of you who don’t know – Andrew and I help to organize GetExporing! Greenville, a free Meetup group here in Greenville. The aim of the group is to get people outside more. The group is open to beginners and advanced explorers alike, and we are no drop! We host primarily paddling, cycling, and hiking events. If you’re in Greenville, check out the site here and come explore with us: http://www.meetup.com/GetExploring-Greenville/.
This past Saturday, Andrew and I led a paddle at Dismal Swamp State Park. The park has over 20 miles of canal open to paddling (as well as hiking/cycling trails, a paved cycling path, a very educational visitor center, and an orienteering course). The canals were originally dug by slaves with the intent to drain the swamp and use the land for agriculture. The land wasn’t suitable for agriculture, so it was heavily forested. Now, the trees are back and we get to enjoy the beauty of the area.
We planned to paddle 3 miles up the main canal, then around one of the side canals and back to the boat launch – for a total of about 8 miles. The radar showed that we had about 3 hours after we started until storms started to roll in. The area is prone to severe lightning, so we wanted to be sure we were off the water by that time. The canal was pretty wide, and the water was very calm. The main canal is open to all kinds of boat traffic, so several times we had to pull over to the side to let a much larger boat pass. We did have some rain while we were paddling, but thankfully no storms! We had trouble finding the side canal we planned to paddle, so we ended up just paddling 6 miles – to the end of the State Park on the main canal and back to the visitor center.
Andrew and I chose to paddle the new canoe (obviously!). This was the first chance we’ve had to get the canoe in the water. It paddled so well! It is a little bit heavy to paddle solo, but moved beautifully with two paddlers. Andrew is a much more experienced canoeist than I am, so I am looking forward to spending more time on the water this spring and summer to learn to paddle better!