Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hunting Island Part 1

We just got back from a Spring Break trip camping for 3 days and 3 nights at Hunting Island State Park. It was another wonderful vacation. Below are some pics and descriptions. I will post a second batch here before long to conclude the trip.

We camped very near the beach which has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are the beauty of the ocean, the palm trees, and the close proximity and access to the beach. The disadvantage is that incoming wind, from off the ocean, is not blocked or filtered by forest. Next year we may camp in the woods to avoid the strong wind. Inside the tent was warm and cozy but it is not a roomy enclosure for leisurely fun. It is almost purely for sleeping given the tight quarters. That meant when we were not hiking or playing "out" at the beach we were chilling by the fire.
Camp life was pretty simple. No toys or other things to distract us we are always left to pile onto one another and laugh for extended periods until someone gets hurt. I always like that about camping: the way one is compelled by necessity to enjoy everyone else almost all the time. The girls were high spirits and energy. They helped prepare food, and they are becoming quite the fire making/ fire poking/ fire maintaining experts. We received congrats from a neighbor RVer, who had apparently been watching us, for cooking all our meals over the fire. We ate grits, oatmeal, burritos, pasta, cereal, and fried some tofu-dogs, coffee.
Here we are sitting around the fire pit. We did a lot of this. Food tastes SO good when camping. It's as if one's senses become hightened via the depravity of sensory overload so common in daily life. We all found ourselves appreciating simple meals and simple tastes.

Here the girls are cleaning the tent out. Oh were it this easy to clean the house or to get them to clean.
The beach was beautiful. The picture behind the title of the blog was taken from our campsite. Here Arianna found this huge conch. I know very little about the mollusks but we were happy to find this guy among others on the beach. She, the conch, was promptly put back to continue her sublime life. We also found sand dollars (alive), sea urchins, and many 0ther shells. Jennifer was the only shark tooth finder: a coveted award.
In the mornings the girls and I walked to an inlet where a small creek had carved a sandy ravine and the marshy grasses met the forest. We saw deer their eating along the forest border 2 out of 3 mornings. But we didn't get near as close to them as I did a large raccoon who enjoyed a half a bowl of Jay food (Jay is our dog) before I realized what the noise of crunching was in the middle of the night.We did a lot of this. Walking, looking, discovering. Behind us you see a vast beach. The reason for this is that the beach was recently rebuilt. Ole Mother Nature doesn't seem to be quite the conservationist we expect from each other. Due to the placement of the surrounding land and resultant sea currents Hunting Island has been rapidly eroding. This year we had tons more beach because someone spent a lot of money putting it back. The barrier we are walking on is one attempt to limit the effects of beach erosion. More on this later.
We also played tag on this set of boulders which are covered in muscles and barnacles. The boulders were placed there to stall the eroding process. Another very human attempt to restrain much stronger forces. I am not making any kind of moral judgment. We do this all the time. Try and shore up what little stability we have with small gestures toward preservation. I think all the barnacles are appreciative. I was reminded though of youthfully disrupting an ant pile with a water hose and watching as the ants, against all hope and all odds, try, one by one, to make things better: carrying dirt clods, rescuing babies, every bit of energy focused on repair. And for many circumstances in life this certainly the correct response. At first I thought it a perfectly human quality to persist with futility but too many examples exist in nature of the same. No, it would be a truly human quality to know when to walk away, to desist, to let go. Catastrophes are natural. Tragedies are all to human. At the heart of many a tragedy is not letting go, not moving on (think Oedipus) while not realizing that larger and unknown forces are in charge. Meandering in this way raises all sorts of interesting questions-but they are perennial. The anti-erosion strategies on Hunting Island are a mere token of a more general problematic type of phenomena.
The dilemma appears wherever a form of life is threatened.

One day we took a hike on the nature trail which led to the Hunting Island Light House. The forest here is absolutely gorgeous. The ground is covered with beautiful palm plants and young palm trees emanating a rich emerald green while the upper layer of trees are crawling with vines and Spanish moss. Very enchanting. Even in taking these pictures we knew we wouldn't be able to capture the real beauty of the place. You'll just have to go their yourself.The girls ran, jumped, and skipped the whole way. It was a long hike but well worth it.
When we got to the end of our hike we had the lighthouse to enjoy. Here is a picture of the lighthouse from the beach. In the next set I will cover our trip back home where we witnessed the devastating effects of beach erosion as well as our trip into Beaufort. Check back soon.

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