Last evening, Jerry and I had found an excellent campsite just in the nick of time. But we’d had no time to enjoy it. So we’ll pick things up with the two very refreshed travelers awakening to the sounds of birdsong and the whisper of the river just as the light was getting strong enough to see inside the tent.
Thursday, May 21st
Got up early and made coffee. But it was much warmer this morning than it had been the other mornings on the river, so a fire wasn’t necessary. We had been toying with the idea of spending another day on the river, and doing the entire seventy-six miles or so of the Wateree River, if we made good enough time. But since we hadn’t yet hit the 76/378 Bridge—which is the fifty-mile mark—we decided that today would be our last day. This meant that we could take our sweet time this morning, and enjoy the excellent campsite we’d found.
Fully recovered and raring to fish, Jerry had a fine morning with his fishing. He caught several nice bass, two of which were definitely keepers—a striper and a largemouth. Also, Jerry spotted the snaking trail of a freshwater clam in the sand. We dug him up, and I shucked him, for my trouble getting a handful of firm white meat. We also found the tracks of a mother turtle that had crawled up out of the river and laid a clutch of eggs in the sandy bank near our camp. We debated as to whether we’d like to have turtle eggs for breakfast, but decided against it.
We packed up camp, loaded the canoe, and got onto the river a little before 11 a.m. We paddled through more swamp and past more towering trees and saw not a single campsite below the sandbank we’d been lucky enough to find before dark. We finally hit the 76/378 Bridge around 1 p.m. We tied up at the excellent boat dock just above the boat ramp, on the right bank between the two bridges. I called my lovely wife, Emily, to come and pick us up. And then we unloaded some of our gear and settled in to feast and drink beer until she arrived. I took the fish fillets and the clam, sautéed them in olive oil with sausage and tomatoes and garlic and onion and green bell pepper that I’d brought along, then added it to a potful of boiled diced potatoes. The resulting no-rue gumbo was tasty indeed. Jerry and I ate our fill, and washed it down with ice-cold beer. Not a bad way to finish off the trip.
Emily found us just fine, and she took me to get the Xterra back up at the Lake Wateree Dam. I found Jerry fishing off the dock upon my return, and we unloaded the rest of our gear, took the canoe out of the water, then loaded up and said goodbye to the Wateree River. It was an excellent river excursion, and I look forward to another next May.
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