If on your new years resolution list is written something along the lines of “do something adventurous” (or if you have an uncontrollable childhood urge to live out a real-life Shel Silverstein poem) than a stay at the Carolina Heritage Outfitters Treehouses is a gentle introduction to that with a well-balanced dose of creature and comfort.
Carolina Heritage Outfitters is a little outpost on the edge of the Edisto River in Canadys, SC. Their services include daylong paddles for large or small groups, camping and the ever cool, Treehouses.
Upon arriving to the outpost, you and your belongings get loaded into a van with canoe in tow and dropped off bout 20 miles up-river. Christian was our guy and he fueled us with plenty of tips, stories and chitchat. From there it is up to your leisure and level of adventure to follow the very basic map and paddle about 12 miles down the river until you reach your designated Treehouse (about 4 ½ hours). After spending as many nights as planned, the last day is about a 10 mile (about 4 hours) paddle back to the outpost where you simply take your canoe out of the water, hose it off, toss your garbage, and climb into your car and leave. The rates of $100-$150/person/day took some time to warm up to (100 bucks to go camping?), but in hindsight I would not hesitate to go again and again.
With that said, the details of the excursion are really up to the adventurer. There were plenty of opportunities to have picnics on the bank, take a swim, scope out the wildlife, walkabout, and snap pictures. Remember that this operation is carry-in, carry-out. Meaning whatever you bring, be it a bag of granola or coolers full of libations and grillables, need be canoed in and out yourself.
The fact that we were the only paddlers and campers this particular Thanksgiving weekend was exhilarating. Being a minority to nature does not happen to me often, so it also kinda gave me the creeps. I couldn't help but have periodic flashes of Apocalypse Now and Oregon Trail as we snaked down the lazy river. As we dodged submerged branches and trees with hard paddles left and right, it was hard not to think of what forging the river with my Oxen and wagon would be like.
There are three different Treehouses, each provisioned with a healthy mix of necessities (now enter the comforts) ranging from various kitchen supplies to a gas grill, fire pit, picnic table, a hammock and outhouses. There was even provided some water, board games, pillows and my favorite, the journal—a perfect addition to the campfire. We read out loud what past residents have seen, done, and experienced and then added to it ours.
We had been told by Christian, our trusty crash-course leader and guide, that on the last leg of the trip to not be weary of the potential 40, 3 foot tall, black turkey vultures that sit on the bank of the power plant (enter Apocalypse Now). They will appear to be staring at you beadie-eyed, but rather, are waiting to ride the thermals up into the sky when the power goes on because they are lazy. Once you pass under I95 (you heard it), you are quickly shocked back to reality and have entered the home stretch.
I had heard about this experience through the grapevine and decided it was something I had to give a go. With no other Thanksgiving plans what would make a better holiday adventure? Not a street house, not a neat house, not a be sure and wipe your feet house, but a high up in the leafy branches, cozy as can be house.
Visit the Carolina Heritage Outfitters website for details on rates, availability and what to expect or call them at (843) 563-5051.