Congaree National Park is not going to win any awards among national parks for splendor but there is beauty to be found here if you look carefully. It is essentially a swamp containing a dense old growth forest of bald cypress, tupelo and oak trees, some of the tallest to be found. Consequently, most of what one will see here at ground level are the massive trunks of these trees. On our traverse of the 5 mile Weston Lake loop trail we encountered more spiders and dragonflies than any other form of wildlife.
Pictured below is a sequence of images showing a spider molting. It was a fascinating process to watch and it took me some time to understand what I was witnessing (I initially assumed I it was two spiders mating or fighting). I think it is safe to say that this is something I will never again see in my lifetime and am thankful I had the chance to document it so well.
The dragonflies were quite large and very beautiful. I kicked myself a hundred times for not bringing my macro lens with me on this trip.
The occasional snake and bird were few and far between. Plenty of wild pig tracks, but none to be seen.
After visiting the park we were quite hungry and in the mood for some famous South Carolina BBQ. I programmed my NAV system for the nearest establishment. When we arrived at an unsigned store front that looked like anything but a place where food is served, we were hesitant to enter. Thank God we did. What we stumbled onto was the flagship restaurant of Big T’s Bar-B-Que. Larry or “Teddy” “Big T” Brown has served barbecue to the greater Columbia, S.C. area for over 30 years. In 2003, his reputation prompted a request from incoming Governor Mark Sanford to cook for his inaugural barbecue. I have never had a pulled pork sandwich that even comes close to what I enjoyed on this day.
With full and happy bellies we started the long multi-day journey back to Concord making it as far as the Virginia border where we paused for the night at the KOA campground in Fancy Gap. Our new 4-person tent has been serving us extremely well and working together we can put it up or down in a matter of a few minutes.