An Island on the Stono

It was warm and partly sunny. A light breeze was coming out of the west, providing just enough comfort to keep the heat from sticking to your skin too long. I was taking advantage of high tide, which was coming up in about an hour, to keep my paddle relatively easy. I hadn't paddled this area of the Stono and was excited to see a new place. I headed out against the wind toward a little island a friend had told me about.

This skeletal watchman let's you know you have arrived.

This skeletal watchman let's you know you have arrived.

According to the map, it was a short paddle; maybe 30 minutes if I stayed focused. Storms were expected in a few hours, but I felt alright taking my time and exploring a little. I came upon a little creek with some grassy, marsh areas and decided to see what kind of fish action I might see...for a potential future trip with my rod and reel. As I crept into the sheltered grassy areas, bait fish jumped all about. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of redfish nosing about or even swimming away in a hurry as I spooked it, but there was no such luck. Plenty of mullet and other fish jumping about...but that was about it.

I decided to continue my trek to the island which was just across the river. I paddled across and found the beach that my buddy had described. As I approached, I saw a small tree that had succumbed to the saltwater environment and was sticking out of the water, backlit against the afternoon sun with more fish jumping happily in the distance...or perhaps jumping to avoid being eaten. It looked like a skeletal watchman for the island. It was dripping with Spanish Moss, looking like an apparition wafting in the breeze.

There was only one boat there, sharing in the serenity. A small group of people floated in the water and conversed amongst themselves. After a few minutes, they piled back into the boat and left me alone on the island.

I was told that I would know the place because of the Live Oaks. I was a little skeptical as there are Live Oaks pretty much anywhere plants grow in the lowcountry. However, after I pulled my board up onto the sand and stepped onto the island above the high tide line, there was no mistaking this place. This was it.

The King of Oaks is hard to miss when first stepping onto this uninhabited island.

The King of Oaks is hard to miss when first stepping onto this uninhabited island.

Freshly hatched turtle eggs are a common site this time of year.

Freshly hatched turtle eggs are a common site this time of year.

The forested area was wide open as the branches of Live Oak trees that had been allowed to grow without intervention radiated from the trunks like malleable waves of energy that were simply moving too slow to be detected by the human eye; like a dream where you struggle to move. They bounced off the atoms in the air and the ground. The king of them all was easy to identify. I approached and admired the royal branches. To the right, I could see one of a few different trails that meandered back toward the creek on which I had come. I followed it and came across a small hole where some turtle eggs had hatched. It was not lost on me that I had this little paradise all to myself for the time being.

Trails could be seen disappearing to other areas of the island. I would have to explore them another day, however. I had been caught on the water with an approaching thunderstorm before. It is no fun and I didn’t want to press my luck.

So I said goodbye and shoved off. I could not resist exploring a little longer as I paddled up the creek, past the jumping fish, to inspect a couple of other little creeks for wildlife. After a few minutes I turned and headed back to the main river. Further to the west, the sky was looking a little foreboding. Dolphin lazily crested in the river, encouraging me to get back to the landing before the weather turned.

Heeding their advice, I crossed the river and focused on my paddle strokes as I skirted the bank. The landing was about 200 yards away as I approached a small grassy area that came out just a little way from the bank. The tide and the wind were both pushing me now and as I was focused on paddling, my speed was pretty good. It was so good, in fact, that I didn’t notice the large redfish that was hiding in the grass as I paddled through. I only noticed the wake it created as it sped away. Smiling, I continued to the landing and made a note of the grassy spot for my next trip when I hoped to have my rod and reel.