A goal of mine this year is to do a little more outdoors type activities. Now I have never been one to avoid being outdoors, but working in an office setting has depressed me enough to be determined to avoid 4 walls and a roof during free sunlight hours as much as possible. (A side note, when the time changes back March 11, these goals will be easier to maintain.)
For Christmas - which my family decided to celebrate on MLK day - I got a lot of what I'll need to start up some weekend outdoorsiness. Items ranging from a 2 person tent to an all in one whistle - oh yea, it's got a compass and a place to put your matches - to a ground sleep mat, I am ready to make the most of some camping opportunities.
But being its January, it seems a bit early to think about spending the night outdoors. That's why I've coordinated with some friends a nice one night camping trip in February. I figure by then it's got to be at least 80 degrees or something like that...
Now for you fellow South Carolinians - where it's always a beautiful day - there seem to be quite a few good places to go camping at. The one which I will highlight is the Congaree National Park. At Congaree, there are 3 different options for outdoor camping - and all of these are free.
First, there is what is called the Longleaf Campsite. This campsite is for up to 8 people and is set to be a primitive campsite with fire rings and grills and even portajohns. So I guess it's quazi-primitive. The second site at Congaree is the Backcountry camping site. This site is a bit more primitive with no amenities. Finally, there is the Bluff Campsite. It's the largest of the campsites and can accommodate up to 30 people. Again, this is a primitive campsite with no amenities.
Now what I am hoping is that while we are there, the "once in 4 or 5 years" kind of floods don't happen. As I do own a kayak, I do not plan on bringing it on my first camping trip there. But one of the free services that the Park does offer is a guided canoe tour. Also the park offers what they call an "Owl Prowl" in where you go out at night and listen and find owls.
A fun fact also about Congaree National Park is that in 2003, it became the first and only national park in South Carolina. Congaree is also designated as a Globally Important Bird Area. So if you were inspired by the recent movie The Big Year and want to become professional birders, you know where to come. In addition to that, Congaree has the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern United States. The average canopy height is over 100ft tall. Also, if you want to head out for a hike, Congaree covers a lot of area. There are over 20 miles of hiking trails and 2.4 miles of boardwalk loop trail. Not bad for a swamp.
Finally, as long as you have a South Carolina fishing license you can fish at Congaree (with the exception of Weston Lake). So why not start preparing to do something that doesn't involve getting your tan from your TV.