Castaway Fantasy

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to be stranded on a deserted island? Well, I did so last February (2020) I decided to take the safe route to my castaway adventure and spend a few days on Cumberland Island one of our National Seashores off the Georgia coast. To get to the island you must take a 45-minute ferry ride from the visitor center in St. Mary's Georgia.

Visitor Center in St. Mary's
Cumberland Queen Ferry

The island is 17.5 miles long and about 3.5 miles wide and home to over 50 miles of shoreline, 36,000 acres for the wildlife to roam including feral horses, alligators, sea turtles, white tail deer, armadillos and over 335 species of birds.

Beautiful Remote Beach
Armadillo
White Tail Deer

Power of Prayer

On the ferry ride to the island, I was getting a little nervous wondering what was instore for me over the next 3 days. I remember saying a prayer as I walked off the ferry to start my adventure to explore the island and find a campsite.

Dock off the Ferry

After hiking about 8 miles, I found a nice spot in the middle of some old beautiful live oak trees to set up camp. The wind was howling through the trees and gusting over 25 mph, so I was looking up to find a safe area, especially from falling tree branches. As soon as I pulled out my hammock from my backpack, I heard a loud crack then a huge limb fell and crashed to the ground about 10 feet away from me. I must admit it scared the heck out of me! I guess that prayer worked!

My Camp Site was back in those Trees
Campsite

Surrounded by History

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Cumberland Island was part of a missionary of Spanish Florida before being attacked by French pirates. Then, in the 1880's steel magnate Thomas Carnegie bought the majority of the island and built a grand vacation mansion.

Remains of Mansion

As I hiked to the entrance of the old mansion the Spanish Moss seemed to be dripping off the tree branches. Just passed the mansion on the wide-open beaches you could see for miles as the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean rolled onto the white sandy beaches. But once you headed off the beach into the island the terrain quickly changed to the twisting and turning branches of a forest of live oak trees.

Miles of Wide Open Beach
Forest of Live Oak Trees

Table for One

After spending most of the beautiful sunny February day exploring the island, I decided to have my dinner on the boardwalk about a mile from my camp and enjoy the sights and sounds of the marsh and Atlantic Ocean.

Dinner with a View
Dunes and Atlantic Ocean

Riding the Storm Out

Around 5:30pm the sun started to go down, so I headed back to my camp. Luckily, I got back before it got too dark because by 6:30pm it was so dark I couldn't see my hand in front of me. I decided to get some sleep early so I could get up and hike to the beach to see the sunrise. As I crawled into my sleeping bag in my hammock, I thought to myself how lucky I was to have such a great day exploring the island with perfect weather! Around 3:00am a loud crash of thunder woke me up as the rain began to fall and my hammock was swaying in the blustery winds. A few minutes later the tarp over my hammock began to flap in the winds as the tie downs were losing in the sandy soil. Then, it happened, a couple of the tie downs gave way as the pouring rain was now turning my hammock into a small pond.

No Sunrise Today

As I was taking my wet clothes off and putting my rain suit on, I was thinking how fortunate I was to have this with me. After I jumped into my emergency weatherproof bag and wrapped the tarp around me, I started to warm up as I laid there with the storm rolling in and thought to myself, how did anyone survive storms in the wilderness before all this weatherproof equipment?!


Lessons Learned

After eating my fried spam sandwich for breakfast (yummy), I decided to cut my trip short and catch the next ferry back to the mainland. I wish I could say I had the time of my life on my fantasy adventure, but I did survive the falling branch, the wicked storm and learned some valuable lessons; come prepared, never underestimate mother nature and keep the faith as God does answer prayers!


Nature Heals The Soul even in a costal thunderstorm on an isolated island!


Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on.


Mark


Come Prepared


 

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All pictures/videos taken by NHS