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Climbing On The Banks Of The Savannah River

Author: Bill "WildBill" Maher
Date: November 11, 2007
Saturday was supposed to be a big day for competitive rowing on the Savannah River in North Augusta, South Carolina, but tree climbing stole the show for younger people who’d lined up along the riverfront to watch the events.

More than 45 kids and parents climbed (some two or three times) in a big hackberry tree at Hammond’s Ferry Park on the South Carolina side of the river, while hundreds of rowers competed on the three-mile course in the 11th annual Head of the South Regatta. It was part of the local River Days festival.

The tree was just a few yards from the starting line for the rowing regatta, which featured two-man and six-man racing sculls. The river separates South Carolina and Georgia and, according to event organizers, rowing has been a competitive event on the river since the 1830s.

It was the second year that David “Ice Cream Man” Myers and his wife Lindy had set up the free tree-climbing event at the riverfront park during the festival. David and Lindy own a popular local ice cream parlor about two blocks from the river called The Pink Dipper, and they also host a monthly open climb at another nearby park with their climbing grove, Treeclimbing South Carolina.

Joe and I made the 190-mile drive from north Georgia to the river before dawn Saturday to help with the climb. David and Lindy repaid us with awesome ham sandwiches for lunch, and dinner at one of the river city’s finest barbecue restaurants.

We put up six ropes in the climbing tree, just a few feet from the 12-mile asphalt hiking and biking trail beside the river. One rope immediately got stuck in an unexpectedly tight crotch and wouldn’t move. We operated on five ropes the rest of the day, and David and I both had to go up after the climb to pry the struck rope from the tree.

After the climb, David led us to two gigantic tulip poplars that he’d recently found along a creek in a public park, near his home. It’s safe to say that both trees rival anything found at Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in North Carolina, and both can be climbed to about 140 or 150 feet. A future expedition to these trees is being considered.

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