Author Topic: Columbia, SC (Congaree National Park #9)  (Read 663 times)

Offline cgr

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Columbia, SC (Congaree National Park #9)
« on: November 24, 2019, 02:02:22 PM »
Iím not that good at writing, so Iíll keep it to bulleted points with ratings and short notes where applicable.

Background: Iím trying to visit every National Park in the USA. This was a trip in November 2019 that started off with Congaree National Park in SC. I spent 3 more days in the region visiting Charlotte, NC (1 day), and Charleston, SC (2 days).

Flights:
  • LGA to CAE on AA
  • Tickets held steady in the $400+ range, so I booked on BA for 7,500 Avios +$5.60
  • CAE airport is the prettiest one Iíve been to so far. It has a grand total of 12 gates, and they have fountains, fake trees, and outdoorsy benches to relax.
  • CAE to CLT on AA
  • Ticket purchased with AA GC redeemed via Annual Amex Travel Credit

Hotel:
  • Gallus Stadium Park Inn, Ascend Hotel Collection- 2/5
  • Big mistake. The room I was assigned at check-in had a horrible smoke smell, and there was some stuff lying around, as though the previous guest had only just checked out and they hadnít had a chance to clean the room. In their defense, there was a knock on the door before I made it the phone to complain, and they switched my room. This one didnít have the smokers smell, and was Ďcleaní, but the bathroom had a weed stench. Their response: ďthis is a college town. We canít control everythingĒ. That I could live down. The part that got to me was the stained towels, and the less then well cleaned bathroom. Only reason they donít get a 1/5 is becauseÖ well, I guess you get what you pay for (although for $80 I should be able to get a clean towel).

Method of Transport:
  • Uber
  • I had to wait over 30 minutes for an Uber at CAE airport. Something about this situation doesnít make much sense to me, as there were other people getting into Ubers constantly. I have a feeling it was some sort of glitch or bug that got me assigned to a driver 30 minutes away. Uber issued a $10 credit to my account for my troubles, but I donít feel much appeased.
  • Had an even bigger issue at Congaree than at Indiana DunesÖ (I know I said I learnt my lesson there, but I checked up on this before and Uberís were supposed to be easy to come by. Guess it wasnít my day). Uber was unable to find a ride after requesting constantly for close to an hour. I was getting nervous because I still had to find a laundromat (more on that later), eat (after hiking all day that wasnít optional), and get my bags from the hotel- all before my flight. Luckily a ranger was headed to town and was able to take me closer to civilization.

Food:
  • Good Life Cafť- 4/5
  • I confirmed their certification with Chabad in advance, as the Teudah on their website has expired.
  • Absolutely delicious food. This is the first (and only?) time Iíve ever really loved the food at a vegan place. I canít be certain that it didnít have something to do with hiking 9 miles, frantically trying to secure an uber, failing, getting a ride with a stranger, sitting in a laundromat for an hour, and then finally finally having something decent to eat. But regardless, it was delicious.
   
   
Activities:
  • Congaree National Park- 4/5
  • The park is situated on a floodplain, so itís basically one big swamp, but unlike the Everglades, the trees here are really tall. The average tree is over 100 feet tall, with the tallest one being over 300 feet tall. Youíre constantly under shade, the trails are mostly mud paths, and if you get an early start, thereís this dense fog that surrounds everything. They also have a few species of venomous snakes, as well as wild boars (that groan and snort but remain out of site, so you can only guess if theyíre a foot away or twelve feet away), and the park isnít that popular so thereís a big chance of you being the only one on the trails. All of these factors give the park an eerie sense of surrealness, as though civilization is millions of miles and years away. All trails branch out of the visitor center, where you start on an elevated wooden boardwalk, making it all seem so easy. Eventually it changes to plastic slats, which are dangerous to walk on when wet (it had rained the night before so everything was wet, but I wouldnít be surprised if itís always this way, being that itís located in/over a swamp). If you take the trails even deeper into the park, youíll be hiking directly on the ground, which in my case was pure mud. Most of the trails are flat, but in some places, you need to step up or down a few inches, mostly because of tree roots. I managed to maintain my (unsteady) footing for the first few miles, but about halfway through my planned hike, I had my first fall. I guess Iím lucky that I didnít hurt myself or break anything, but the one and only skirt that I had brought along on this trip was not fit to be seen. Hence the aforementioned emergency trip to the laundromat. After that fall I was less worried about falling since it wouldnít matter much to my clothes anyway- I just made sure to go down safely😊.
  • As a side note, this park can only be comfortably visited September through May. During the summer, the mosquitos are vicious, and the heat and humidity unbearable.
  • I hiked Boardwalk Loop, Weston Lake Loop, and Oakridge Trail.
  • Here are some of my pics of the park: Congaree 1,Congaree 2,Congaree 3.
   
Next stop: Charlotte, NC.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2019, 02:05:46 PM by cgr »

Offline yitzgar

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Re: Columbia, SC (Congaree National Park #9)
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2019, 02:19:18 PM »
Thanks, useful info.