Paddling To Cumberland Island. Part 3

After taking a break under the shade of a huge live oak tree and filling up on GORP (the ultimate hiker snack of raisins, peanuts and M&Ms), we headed down the island’s single sandy, seashell-encrusted road toward the ruins of Dungeness. Fortunately for us, a family of wild horses lead by a handsome, dark chocolate-colored stallion stood in the fields adjacent to the road, grazing contentedly. Our presence didn’t even raise their heads.

Once at Dungeness, a crumbling reminder of an era gone by, we explored and imagined what life must have been like for the early plantation settlers who planted fields of cotton, rice and indigo. We then followed the warm, salty breeze toward the island’s southeastern shore. With the sun directly overhead, we crossed over what seemed like an endless row of dunes. Animal tracks imprinted the sand and Palmetto trees leaned eastward as if directing us toward the sea. Looking like a band of deadheads exiting a rock concert, we took off our shoes and walked back up the beach in the tidal pools lining the shore.

After a lunch of tuna and veggie pita sandwiches, we returned to the beach for an afternoon of sunning, fishing and kayaking. “Who wants to learn what to do if your kayak turns over?” inquired George. After experiencing choppy waters on Friday, just about every hand went up. One by one, Morris taught each of us how to safely exit the boat during a roll and then upright it, re-enter the hole and pump out the water – all without assistance.

He also made sure we knew how to paddle efficiently in all kinds of conditions so our arm muscles wouldn’t stage a mutiny against the rest of our upper body. (This technique was put to the test the following day.)

To cap off our day, we strolled under the thick, forest canopy to the western side of the island. Reclining in wooden rocking chairs with a warm, soft breeze relaxing our tired bodies, we watched the setting sun. As it finally dropped behind the distant trees, we continued to gaze out over the shimmering, dark-green waters of the sound. Jon Quattlebaum, a media specialist from Atlanta, said it best, “Golden.”

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