Monday, January 01, 2007

Rainy Days in Cumberland

Cumberland Island, Georgia's southernmost barrier island, can be a photographer's dreamland: rich in wildlife, long stretches of beachs and dunes, a picturesque salt marsh, interesting ruins of an old estate, and a variety of habitats along the 50 miles of hiking trails.

A big place... so to cover much territory, you need to backpack, camping along the way, or else have a bicycle (with a basket for camera gear)... but no bicycles allowed on the ferry. (Why not?!) We knew the concessionaire rented bicycles at the dock so I brought my own bike basket for the weekend adventure. We planned to camp at Seacamp, the only campground, which is not far from where the ferry drops people off. The first glitch in our plan: no bicycles, except one junker whose chain fell off every 50 yards. The few almost-OK bikes (only kind they rented) were all rented out. Bummer!

A front was predicted to be moving through later so we got camp set up under magnificent wind-sculpted oaks (click) and went for a hike to the ruins of Dungeness. I have a few images from last year - so you can see the mansion on a sunny day (click). This day was gloomy with the imminent storm, so the appropriate image is of the "the imprisoned palm", a view from the mansion through an old iron fence (click).

I've included Cumberland Island horses from a year ago as well (click here), but this trip, my favorite horse image was of a pair out on the salt marsh with a passing sailboat in the passage beyond (click). The horses were brought here in the 1800s, but are now wild and have free roam of the entire island. They are neither friendly nor skittish, and number over 100, so seeing one here or there is likely.

There's one especially stunning oak near the boardwalk to the beach that I tried to photograph on a sunny day last January. The shadows made my images too busy to appreciate the massive sprawling tree. Well, this trip, the front moved in...bringing rain, cold, and wind... and it never let up all weekend. The "silver lining" was that this wet old oak tree glistened, and the gray sky cast no rays through the canopy, so I got a pretty good shot during a break in the rain (click).

Trying to keep my gear dry (along with myself) and lugging it on long bikeless hikes around the south end of the island in the rain felt miserable at times, but Cumberland is beautiful, rain or shine, and bad weather really cannot tarnish it's luster or allure. We'll be back.