Firstly: WHERE HAVE I BEEN?!
Rebranding my business over at Reese Moore Photography, that’s where! I apologize for the extended (and painful) break from Compost and Cava, but I’m thrilled with the result. Running a small business is not for the faint of heart or eager to sleep. Check out my new photography site here or follow the journey on the Instagram here!
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the Edisto River Treehouses.
It’s taken me a long time to shut out the clutter and chatter from our daily lives long enough to really soul search and decide how to sum up what was a truly magical experience at the Edisto River Treehouses. And that, I finally realized, was the whole point.
As we made the drive up to Carolina Heritage Outfitters to get away from it all, I was frantically sending e-mails to clients, texting business associates, and swearing at my cell phone while trying to get an out of office message in place. My boyfriend was rolling his eyes and threatening to chuck my phone out the window.
I’ve gotten much better at learning to live more slowly, but completely getting away from it all? No cell service? No WiFi? No Instagram for 48 hours? WHAT DID THAT EVEN MEAN?
After a practice paddle to show our host we were somewhat proficient in a canoe, seeing as there had just been that epic rattlesnake incident heard 'round the South, Anne took us to the drop point. On the drive, no less than two people shared that story about some bozo grabbing a water moccasin in his canoe in this very spot… and my service immediately dropped. GREAT!
(This video will put the fear of South Carolina into you, but it's worth the watch. They had me at "glorious idiot.")
Rule number one of canoeing ANYWHERE: Do not grab wildlife out of the water. Ever. Especially not a baby gator and/or water moccasin. Especially not if day drinking.
Paddling a canoe does take some teamwork, and they do call these vehicles “divorce canoes” for a reason, friends. After some fussing, we found a rhythm… until Logan decided to try to stand up in the canoe without warning me.
Rule number two: Do not try to stand in your canoe on open water. Ever. If you are momentarily possessed by the devil and plan to try to stand in your canoe, tell your co-canoer IMMEDIATELY.
I went from happy forest sprite to impersonating The Rock in about 0.03 seconds flat, bellowing, “Logan, I swear to God if you do not SIT THE &*@% DOWN!!”
Our approximately 10-mile trip down to the tree houses was projected to take 4 hours, but we’re aggressive paddlers and made it in 2.5 hours. Most people stop for swimming along the way, but I've wanted to go to the tree houses for years and was a little too excited for that. It was a gorgeous trek and I’d do it again in a heartbeat! The river was high for our trip, and birds and turtles abounded. The scenery was gorgeous and it was so incredibly peaceful. We did not see so much as another soul until we passed Treehouse #1... and I miraculously resisted almost all Deliverance themed jokes. Almost. (We were also doing this on a weekday, however.)
Just as I was getting hangry and my arms were starting to feel like they were going to fall off, we saw the marker for our treehouse. Perfect. Timing.
Our treehouse felt like it was in the absolute middle of nowhere, though someone was camping at the next treehouse over, and it was perfect. The quiet, nature’s mossy carpet, the sounds of a magical little sun shower hitting the leaves in the trees. There were no text messages, no sounds of cars starting, no bills to pay. Also no running water, but I really could not have cared less. This was everything I didn’t know I desperately needed.
Let's be real. My career and my passion project (this blog) are both incredibly and inextricably tied to social media. It is a lot of work. It is exhausting work. It is not what I love most about my job, and while social media has introduced me to some absolutely incredible people I now call friends - I'm looking at you, Elana, Rebecca, and June - it costs you, spiritually. You cannot live sustainably without... well, living sustainably. Getting away from "it all" and getting back to Mother Nature is vital to finding balance.
Back to my experience. The most important thing for you to know: there was a gorgeous little hammock suspended over a babbling brook and cypress knees that I pretty much refused to leave.
I drank wine in the hammock. I ate BBQ shrimp in the hammock. I napped in the hammock. I drank more wine in the hammock. If not for my tiny bladder, I might STILL be in that hammock.
We grilled delicious steaks, shrimp, and marinated vegetables we had toted in via cooler for dinner, played cards, read the hilarious guest books. We sat and listened to the sounds of the wind in the trees, the river running past us. We sat in the hammock again and splashed in the freezing river, sipped wine during a sun shower, watched the sun set on the rippling surface of the water. We watched fireflies in the meadow behind our treehouse.
We didn’t want to go inside again. Ever.
This sentiment was the one that caught me most off-guard. I grew up camping, love hiking, and am an avid gardener. But most of my life is still spent indoors. It’s utterly soul-depleting.
Finally, we climbed the stairs to our screened-in treehouse and settled into the loft. The mattress pad was much more comfortable than I expected, but don’t expect it to compare to your bed at home. This is still glamping, after-all, and with that comes all the glory of nature but possibly not your best night’s sleep ever.
Rule number three: Do not lose your shit over every bump in the night. Just the big ones. That being said, there were for sure some big ass bumps in the night. Something large walked across our roof shortly before dawn, which led to me clawing my boyfriend and making him swear to protect me against angry forest gods... I’m a very rational sleeper, and very fun to slumber party with.
We got up early the next morning and had every intention of getting back to civilization, but we stretched our visit out with a leisurely breakfast, more hammock time, and slowly packing up our belongings and clambering back into our canoe. The Edisto River Treehouses are hard to leave behind.
Rule number four: Leave no trace. Bring separate bags with you for your trash and recycling, and remember you’ll need to canoe them back out with you.
(Side note: Yes, I am wearing a "Hoe Don't Mow shirt. We'll get into my hatred of conventional lawns and their environmental cost later, but you can buy this gem here.)
This is a magical place, let’s keep it that way. If possible, leave the river better than you found it. We did some fancy paddle work and snagged some floating garbage out of the water during our trek back, and it felt great. We also abruptly explored paddling backwards when a water moccasin swam in front of our canoe. He was all business, but I’d recommend not getting in a snake’s way.
It took us close to three hours to get back to the outpost, and my tiny T-Rex arms were sore for DAAAAAYS. It was totally worth it. The sense of peace I took home with me carried me through some incredibly stressful days afterward, and I can’t wait for my next adventure off the grid.
Wherever you go this summer, whatever you do, I challenge you to do more outside. Really get away from it all. Chuck that phone out the window (except I'm deathly serious about that leave no trace bit... don't actually).
*Links above are affiliate links, meaning if you like it and buy it, I get a tiny monetary high five for spreading the good word about fun products at no cost to you.
Dos and Donts for your trip to the Edisto River Treehouses:
DO invest in dry bags for your valuables. You probably won’t capsize, but it’s best to be prepared.
DON’T forget sunscreen! While the tree cover along the banks is considerable, remember you’ll be spending much of your time out on the open water. A hat is a great idea too.
DO bring your own sheets and bedding. While a mattress is provided, it would be near impossible to run a laundry service out to the treehouse.
DON’T track sand and dirt into the treehouse. Let the person after you have just as enjoyable of an experience.
DO bring bug spray, preferably the natural kind. I swear by Swamp Gator, none of the other hippie dippy ones are enough to keep the bloodsuckers away from me, mosquito magnet that I am. While there were NOT many bugs near our treehouse, the mosquitos were a force to be reckoned with if you crossed the footbridge to the island.
DON’T overpack. Certainly don’t skimp on the essentials, but remember the more you bring, the lower your canoe will sit in the water.
DO take time to bring foods with minimal packaging and waste. Garbage is a pain when there’s no trashcan in sight, and no one wants your food trash blowing into the water way.
DON’T forget to read through the guest book. The entries are hilarious, heartwarming, and thought-provoking.
And finally, soak up every moment of your experience. Nap in the hammock to the sounds of the street. Sip wine with your feet in the freezing cold water. Watch the water from the rocking chairs. Just be.