Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Beautiful Cumberland Island

The paths and trails of Cumberland Island
Sometimes we are lucky enough to come across one of life’s little treasures and Cumberland Island on the Georgia/Florida border is just that.  When we were back in the East Caribbean thinking we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone perhaps by taking a trip up to North America it was thoughts of this little island (amongst other things, like cool balmy days, pine trees instead of palms and let’s not forget cheap shopping!) that buoyed our decision to go. We had stopped there before on our previous visit on Alianna with memories of miles and miles of beach and sand dunes, forest that looked like it jumped right out of a Twilight book/movie and wonderful wildlife in the form of Armadillos, ornate butterflies, wild horses and the pre-historic looking horseshoe crabs.

There are literally hundreds of these beauties fluttering around
I have to admit I am not keen on the anchorage at Cumberland Sound – though just for the record Sim sees nothing wrong with it, I find it remote and isolating with lots of long wind chop.  Maybe if there were other boats anchored it would feel better but there weren’t.  This is where Sim and I differ – he is happy with the solitude whereas I find it unsettling.
Wandering Star at anchor in Cumberland Sound
But anyway, it wasn’t so bad and the days ashore on the island made it worth it.  Cumberland Island is the largest of Georgia’s barrier islands at about 13 miles long. There is a $4 per person entry fee paid by honours system at a box by the dock that is valid for a week, either dock can be used.  There are no supplies on shore but you can find drinking water and toilets at the south end. Trails and paths crisscross across the island a map of which can be found at the docks. Even though we had our bikes (Sim fixed my pedal), we hardly covered any of the island as it was just too damn hot and quite frankly we haven’t really adapted ourselves to this new found exercise yet– suffering a little with saddle seat!  Tall trees laced with dripping ferns form a canopy over the paths and trails. Wild ponies roam free, dragonflies and butterflies flutter about en-mas. The air smells damp and earthy, the birds chirp and tweet and the sun shimmers through the foliage, - it is truly a magical place. That is until you come out at the dunes on the east side of the island where the fierce sun beats down hard on you.  The sand is too hot to walk on. It  looks like we timed this wrong in the midday heat but we stay awhile anyway eating a packed lunch, beach combing and watching the shrimp boats dredge backwards and forwards. I hunted for shark’s teeth but find none, only the shells of umpteen horseshoe crabs washed ashore.  They are such odd looking things. Its the weekend and boat loads of people are deposited on the island, out for a day with nature and unspoiled beauty, trudging from one side of the island to the other swatting at the bugs, cursing the heat and dripping in sweat.  Faces bright red and losing their sense of humour.  Do they see the beauty as they dash back to the ferry screaming at the kids to keep up or do they miss it all in their own discomfort? We had a couple of days exploring the Dungeness ruins and more beaches and trails.  I wish we had got up to the North end of the island but we wore ourselves out.... with red faces........ At least there is always something for next time.  I doubt I could tire of this place but with the development of the now named storm Arthur and our fresh supplies running low we decided to head back to Fernandina Beach and hangout there for a while, so this wind business can blow through.
The maritime forest
The Dungeness ruins
Walkways across the dunes
The Atlantic ocean
The beautiful beach and sand dunes
The pre-historic looking horseshoe crab
The beach stretches for miles and miles
The underside of those funny looking things
More sand dunes -
Sim at the Dungeness ruins
Thirsty work!
The wild ponies roamed free
Out on our bikes
Picnic tables throughout the island as well as a fresh water shower by Sea Camp Beach
Shrimp boats trawling
Sim finds a washed up buoy.

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