Thursday, May 08, 2008

MARTIAN LANDSCAPE




We hit the road on this first day of 2008 to finally have a look at the what's left of Lake Moultrie following a very long drought. Taking Steed Creek Road put us on Hwy 402 through Huger then to Hwy 52 across the Tail Race Canal. While the canal was clearly low, it was free flowing and unremarkable.

We cut through Moncks Corner to Hwy 6 then eased over to Lyons Beach, an interesting stretch of lake front property which has not yet fallen to development. It's a combination of fish camp, boat landing, recreational facility with an array of small funky lake homes. The place was completely deserted. When we pulled to the boat landing, what had been a great expanse of water now looked more like a Martian Landscape. If not that, it would certainly do nicely for ground zero of a nuclear attack. The complete absence of people, pets and vehicles gave the place a haunted quality. The posted sign forbidding wake and swimming had a mocking quality consistent with irony of old "Twilight Zone" episodes.

Not since 1951 has the lake level been this low. This is Lake Moultrie, the last link in the Catawba Chain, a series of seven lakes formed and controlled by hydro electric plants along the way. On the other end of this chain is the Catawba River which begins in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. The Catawba finds its way to South Carolina through Lake Wylie on the border with North Carolina. It takes a circuitous route to find its way into Lake Moultrie in Berkeley County. It has run through 9 sub-basins and 3,000 stream miles by the time it arrives.

Out on the dry lake bed we could see few faint tracks where an all terrain vehicle had passed, the only evidence of any living presence. The tiny trace of water seen at the foot of the boat ramp is only rainwater collected at the sump from yesterday's heavy showers. It will have evaporated by tomorrow. During good times the landing operator only asks two bucks a boat for a launching fee, but has no takers these days. All told it's a very grim sight out here. Not many folks want to sit and gaze at the stump field of a dead lake bed so it's quiet at the landing store as well. Neither a tour bus stop nor lover's lane are these mud pastures.

Looking closely at the photo which shows the dock, the signs and two birdhouses on poles, you can see a bird peeking out of one of the openings. They seemed mildly curious at the movement of a human life form outside, but quite content to be domiciled in a sturdy birdhouse suspended by a length of PVC pipe which was swinging in the wind. On that blustery day the bird probably felt he had it made.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Pam said...

Wow - great images. When I was driving up I-95 over the holidays, I noticed for the first time how low Lake Moultrie really was - your pics really show that.

Hope you had a nice holiday.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Thanks, Pam. We felt like we were on the Viking I probe. Boating is down and the fishing is off a little.

We hope that 2008 will be exceptionally good for you.

1:02 PM  

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