Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cumberland Island

Skeletal remains between marshland and beach
     Cumberland Island's spectacular beauty is best illustrated in photos. Words cannot capture the sights and whispering sounds of this wild island's palmetto palms rustling in the breeze or the swaying, Spanish moss hanging from Maritime Oak branches where each seemingly reach out in search of someone who'll climb.

Marshland along the island's southern end

Dungeness where the forest ends


     The forest abruptly terminates at the island's southern end where it morphs into lush green marshes and miles of pristine beach. It's here where the forest startlingly unveils the ruins of the Carnegie mansion Dungeness where during the Gilded Age the 1% enjoyed "conspicuous privacy" by throwing elaborate house parties for wealthy guests. The island encompasses 36,415 acres of wilderness area and 16,850 acres of marsh, mudflats and tidal creeks where a few Carnegie mansions dot the maritime forest.

Cumberland Island's beach
Simple Life anchored near Plum Orchard
Three hunters, Brandon, Blake & Bradley
     During our recent visit Simple Life was anchored near the northern end of the island in the Wilderness area where the woodland seemed ripe for exploration. That was until we met a few hunters along a trail who warned us not to venture farther. The annual three day controlled hunt for deer and wild boar was well underway. They advised us not to wander beyond the grounds of the former Carnegie mansion Plum Orchard. Shortly thereafter a park ranger spotted us and verified the hunters' warnings. As consolation she offered a private tour of the interior of the mansion. What luck! Under normal circumstances the mansion is not open to the public.
Pauline the park ranger during a private tour of Plum Orchard
Plum Orchard Mansion


Local shrimper with a cast net at our anchorage


       The following day the tides were in our favor allowing us to travel over a shoaled area from the southern entrance of the Brickhill River at the Cumberland Divides to where it rejoins the ICW. Within an hour and a half our anchor was set at a popular anchorage near the Sea Camp on Cumberland Island where feral descendants of the Carnegie horses roam freely on the island. This area was deemed safe for hiking and exploration since hunting was not allowed near the camp. This was our second excursion to Cumberland Island and certainly will not be our last.
Feral mare and her filly near Dungeness

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