Leaving the dock at Jocassee is always a time of anticipation to me.

Using the lake as a blue avenue into the Jocassee Gorges Wilderness, I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. Like bears swimming across the lake, and deer, and even a feral hog one morning early. Squirrels and chipmunks swimming too, upon occasion. This week was a special thrill. We were out with some birders from the Blue Wall Birding Festival, with guest birder extraordinaire Irvin Pitts. My notepad was filling up, trying to keep up with the birds Irvin was identifying, mostly by sound in this dense forest. Dozens were id’ed, but the biggest thrills of the day were seeing a white squirrel in the Seldom Seen Falls cove, and two young otters grooming one another as we turned into the mouth of Howard Creek. Thank you, Irvin, and Jocassee, for a good day in a wild place. Wild places preserve us all, Thoreau said. He was right.

LAUREL FORK FALLS REPORT. Thanks to the Good Friday flood, the entrance to the grotto is sanded in. if you want to see the falls from the inside, you’ve got to swim in! It’s way more adventuresome, anyway. Brace yourself! ~B

BLOOM REPORT. From a distance, mountain laurel and Gorges rhododendron are evident, as well as occasional maple-leaf viburnums along the shoreline. But look more closely to marvel at the small wonders, like hearts-a-bustin’ and American hollies.

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We depart from the main boat dock at Devils Fork State Park, Salem SC, 28676