I heard one of my boyfriend’s “this is interesting, you should pay attention ‘hmms’” while I unpacked some of our camp gear onto the deck of tree house #1. He came out of the cabin, with a slap of the sturdy screen door, holding a treasure trove of memories encased in a simple, crinkled leather book. For better or for worse, years of reviews and experiences were chronicled inside this gem of entertainment.
Experiencing the delicious first bite of their wedding cake, melting in their mouth after missing the chance to try it at their busy reception. They fed each other bites with a sigh of relief. A mother teaching her daughter how to navigate the river on a bonding retreat. The long memorizing stare at a lover across the picnic table as the sun caught the strands of her falling hair and made them shine. The boys out for a fishing getaway, nighttime caught catfish frying for breakfast to fill hungover bellies. Birders making a page long list of their sightings. The report of monsters. The report of a giant owl. The response that city ladies might think owls are monsters?
The treehouse provided shelter from a lightning storm just missed and furnished over and over again the much needed retreat we all craved from our real lives. A birthday, a honeymoon, a surprise engagement- the little treehouse that could perpetually delivers while it sits on the Edisto River in Givhans Ferry, South Carolina.
Carolina Heritage Outfitters, located just an hour from Charleston, has been providing adventure seekers with a unique getaway experience for over 20 years. Just enough time to have ironed out all the details to make the trip simple and bomb proof. At $150 per person, you receive a canoe and its gear, a shuttle ride up the river and an outfitted treehouse completely off the grid. For just a small investment, you pay for the opportunity to experience the scenery and wildlife of the ecosystem on the Edisto. You get the thrill of relying solely on your own wit and grit for survival. Of course this designated “active” couple were drawn to this excursion to celebrate our mutual birthdays.
We loaded up the shuttle van on a clear, crisp Sunday fall morning. Our provisions of water, sleeping bags, clothes, the kitchen sink (better to have than to need is my motto) and lastly what I considered the necessities- wine, cheese and bloody mary mix. I tried to relax into the river time that Scott kept with his driving speed, which eventually got us to the drop off point. Only forty-five minutes from the city and thirty minutes from base, but you instantly feel cut off from the world when you dip your yellow paddle into the cold, rusty colored water and feel a sense of power when the canoe pulls forward into the elements.
Turtles don’t gracefully dive into the water when you startle them with your enthusiasm over witnessing nature. Your library quiet voice suddenly turned Game Cock cheerleader in this still environment. Instead, they just belly flop from their sunning perch. No finesse- just a fall and plop. Ducks are awkward little creatures as well. Anything will scare them into frantically flapping their wings in escape from the latest fright. Like bears through the woods, as they crack branches and move bushes with their huge effort to maneuver their little bodies away from the self-created danger.
As a couple, the trip provided us with a growing moment. It could have been locker-room worthy expletives after being dunked with our gear into the cold water, if either one of us had panicked. Instead, we handled the situation of hitting an unexpected log with style. The larger log than we anticipated stopped us dead, the water pushing us sideways against the fat beast that was the power of the water trying to tip us over. Oh, the drama! We worked like a well-oiled team though. No screaming or panic, but calm problem solving. My hands shook for a bit, but the two of us and our bottles of wine snuggled in-between made it dry and safe to our destination right at five hours easy paddling, as predicted.
Our home for the night was well equipped. We had an outdoor propane grill and picnic table with a big fire pit outside. Inside we had an indoor cooking stove and heater, lanterns and plenty of little candles to make the place glow like a séance room after the sun went down. We had the island all to ourselves and explored the two empty cabins, both progressively a little larger than our couples lodge. The sun sank through the leaves, lighting them through their thin skin while the river bubbled like the best bought sound machine. Shadows grew long and my shoulders started to relax. The realization that we had nowhere to be and nothing that had to be done made us both giddy. We listened to our fire crackle and the woods take on night sounds. Sipping our vino into the night, talking about nothing and everything. We both slept warm and deep in our loft that night.
We took our time paddling the lazy river the next day, watching the egrets and herons sweep in front of us. Choosing to land at a few sand bars along the way to sink our toes into the cold grains and watch the river drift by. Very reluctant to step back through the curtain and into our daily grind. Our only regret not staying for a few more days. For more information please visit their website.
By: Contributing writer Tatianna Fisher