Monday, February 21, 2011
Camped this weekend at Poinsett State Park, just outside of Sumter, South Carolina, closest to the town of Wedgefield and abutting the bombing range for aircraft from Sumter Air Force base. It is a charming place, with pines, oak, and laurel full of draped Spanish moss. Wide trails bend through the piney woods from the camping areas to the office alongside a small pond and mill race. A deceptive hill borders the pond. Built by Civilian Conservation Corp workers during the Great Depression, the park features much of the same architecture and design found in similar state parks, including Columbia's Sesqui. As has been my experience in South Carolina, the place was remarkably well-kept. South Carolina really should be proud of their parks. The group camping area, where I stayed with members of my son's troop, featured new, though spartan, bathrooms (a significant improvement according to scouts who had been there before). Apparently the place features horseback riding, though I neither saw nor heard any horses, as well as fishing, boating, and hiking. No swimming appeared to be allowed. Some of the shelters had well-mown and large grassy areas, though this weekend I saw none of the usual family gatherings one sees in the state parks. We hiked (and policed) two trails. I was surprised by how clean the Coquina route was, a short mile and a half route over a 100 foot or so hill that is rather appealing. We also hiked the Scout trail from which the boys trimmed out overhanging bushes and blockages along the wide path that meanders about two fairly flat miles. (So we hiked about 5.5 miles total). Although I lagged I managed to keep up a steady pace and finished not too badly behind the younger set. The park isn't as exciting as some in the state, but it is quiet and pleasant. The scouts did two other services while there: levelling two ash pits and performing flag-retirement ceremonies. The days were very comfortable, thought the nights were a bit colder than expected. I learned a few lessons, that will definitely be applied in future camping trips. I also learned that I cannot share a tent with my youngest: how someone that small can migrate his body back and forth simple amazed me, and that didn't even come close to the surprising range and diversity of sounds emitting from him in his sleep. He ended up being exile to the (albeit warmer) cab of our truck. My older son seemd to have weathered the cold night in comfort in his own tent amongst his compatriots. The food was good, the company enjoyable, the nature invigorating, and I also enjoyed a measure of peace. Looking forward to our next outing to Congaree National Swamp.