Cumberland Island, Georgia’s wildlife, trees, dunes, beaches, marshes and island atmosphere provided the perfect escape from the frenzy of the mainland.
Five Georgia Wilderness Society friends and I celebrated the 2008 New Year on Cumberland Island, Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier Island. Our passenger ferry took forty-five minutes to go from St. Marys to the Island. The Park Service provided two-wheeled pushcarts to transport our gear the 0.5 miles from the ferry dock to the campground.
For the next six nights we camped at Sea Camp under the spectacular spreading limbs of 300-year-old Live Oak trees draped with Spanish Moss. The Live Oaks’ canopy of closely clustered green leathery leaves not only provided beauty, peace and stillness but protected us from much of the sun, wind and rain. A sea of thick Saw Palmetto and Cabbage Palm separated the campsites. Golden sunbeams filtered through the over-arching trees and vines when the sun was out.
Cumberland’s maritime forest covers 60% of the island. The wildlife, trees, dunes, beaches, marshes and island atmosphere provided the perfect escape from the frenzy of the mainland.
Except for the last two days we wore tee-shirts and shorts. We had many laughs around the campfire at night and on New Years Eve we made spectacular spirals with sparklers on the beach.
Our days were spent hiking and biking many of the sixteen-mile long and three-mile wide island trails. Our favorite hikes included roaming among the 1890s Dungeness ruins, the mile-long river trail along Cumberland Sound, the three-mile parallel trail to Stafford Beach campground, the twelve-mile tree covered main road and the sixteen miles of Atlantic Ocean beach. A museum on the islands southern end featured Cumberland’s rich Timucuan Indian and European history.
Small herds of the island’s over 200 wild brown, white and black horses grazed on the sea oats among the dunes and shared their beaches and trails. Other wildlife sighted included raccoons, possum, armadillo and numerous shorebirds such as osprey, sandpipers and a variety of seagulls.
To view more pictures go to Chris Bryson’s January 02, 2008 blog at http://riverbum.blogspot.com/2008/01/cumberland-island-photos.html
For more information on Cumberland Island National Seashore go to www.nps.gov/cuis or call toll free 1-877-860-6787 or 912-882-4335/6.