i finally found time on the last day of september to get my monthly capers island trip in. the afternoon of sept 30th, i cleared my work schedule - a little easier than it is for most - and quickly packed the essentials for an overnight trip to my favorite barrier island. the essentials included my hammock, a six pack of beer, two cameras, two tripods, a mt house meal (always at the ready) and a few other items. i headed out around 3 to catch the ebb tide, which began around 4. as i was just about to push off, a fellow paddler came around the creek bend - seemingly to pull out. i started talking to him, and it turns out he was crashing on capers that evening as well, but had forgotten the majority of his food in his truck. he had been all the way to capers all ready, and had to make the trip twice to get his forgotten provisions. i gave him a few tips on where to camp, and said i would see him out there. i took the scenic route to capers this time, paddling through the marshes surrounding the intracoastal waterway (ICW) before heading to the inlet and around the front. as i paddled through the inlet, i could see that the surf was up, and to get to my favorite spot i would need to paddle into it. i pulled off in the calmer waters of the inlet, and put on my skirt to keep the crashing waves out of the cockpit. as i pulled around the front of the island and into the surf i saw the same paddler i had met at the landing, who had taken the direct route to the island and beat me to the beach. as i bounced around in the surf, with a 3 foot swell and fully loaded boat, i watched as he caught the perfect wave and made a safe dry landing on the beach. that was my plan too, but of course it didn't work out that way for me. i paddled down the island through the surf a quarter mile or so past his landing to my favorite spot, waited for a smaller wave, and caught a ride on it. about half way to shore, my boat began to turn into the wave and i was unable to compensate i was being surfed sideways, and before i knew it, i was upside down in the surf zone. without even thinking i set up for my roll, snapped my hips, threw my head back and was back upright again. i was able to turn straight to shore and paddle the last 50 yards or so with out a problem. i have always wondered if i could roll my boat fully loaded with gear, but i never wanted to end up with all my gear wet - so i never have tried it - now i know i can. i set up my first camera - and let it fire shots as i set up camp for the night - check out the video to see the results - not too exciting but cool anyway.
i got set up at my campsite, which has the perfect tree for hanging in a hammock, lit a fire to boil water, and drank a few beers. suddenly there were small kids running down the beach - followed by men in polos and women in sun dresses. a tour boat had dropped them off at the inlet and they had strolled down the beach to invade my privacy - this happens pretty often, but they usually leave within 20 minutes, so they don't get left behind by the tour boat.
ryan, the other paddler down the beach, was hiking down the beach and stopped to chat for a while, i invited him to have a beer (harpoon comes in cans now!) and he said he would stop by on his way back. as the sun dropped low in the sky, and the tourists left our paradise, i took a few shots of the last light (below). ryan stopped back through again, we had a beer and decided to keep each other company while we ate dinner around the fire. he was a pretty interesting guy - tried to through hike the AT, made it about 500 miles and decided to call it after 10 straight days of rain. he said he has plans to finish it, just not sure when. as we ran out of beer and the fire died down, we said so long, and i headed out for my evening hike.
when the tide is out, you can easily walk the beach of capers island from end to end which is about 2 miles. i hiked the length of the beach, looking for good subjects, and trying not to trip over the various roots, holes and other debris that protruded from the sands. almost at the other end, i spotted a campfire that was dying down, but the folks who had made it were all ready at rest for the night. i found a good subject and took a few different angles of it - this was my best effort below.
as i headed back to my own campsite, around 1130, staring at the milky way and not paying attention i came within a foot of walking directly into some one who had hung their hammock in between two trees on the beach. that would have been an awkward way to wake some one up. i am guessing it was the same person who's fire i had seen dying down earlier on the way there. i avoided the hammocker and continued on my way. as i stared up at the sky, i noticed an odd shape on one of the tree branches - something that didn't look like a stick. upon further investigation i realized is was a bird who was also sleeping on the beach front. i was able to snap a few shots using the flashlight again to light the subject, before it woke up and flew away. it looks pretty eerie agains the night sky with no head showing - i believe it was an osprey.
when i got back to my camp spot, it was about 1230 - and the tide had started to come in. i was still quite awake, and knowing that if i waited until sunrise to get going i would be battling the tide and wind on the way back, i decided to break down my gear and head back to the landing right then. it took me about 45 minutes to get everything together, and i made a cup of tea over the coals real quick to help keep me alert on the paddle back in the darkness. i got everything loaded up and launched the boat quickly into the surf - which was considerably smaller than when i landed thankfully. i made it upright through the break and paddled quickly to the inlet - noticing that every time i took a paddle stroke, there was an awesome explosion of bioluminescent dinoflagellates in the water. i had seen this in puerto rico recently, and once when i was swimming in the outer banks at night about 8 years ago, but this is the first time i got to see it in charleston. as i paddled through the inlet, the strong incoming tide took over, and all i had to do was sit back and keep the boat heading the proper direction. i decided to turn the boat around backwards, away from the light pollution that was coming from charleston, and stare at the stars for a bit, while the tide pulled me inland towards the landing. i stared up at the night sky and witnessed a whole bunch of shooting stars - coupled with my occasional paddle strokes, it made for quite a light show. i could hear dolphins off in the distance, coming up for air every so often, and i thought it would be awesome to see one swim by and set off the glowing dinoflagellates in the water - but it never happened. i made it back to the car by 230 am, got it loaded up and was at home in bed be 315 - a long evening paddle for sure.