Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Commission Winter Paddles


By Jeff Dennis

The Edisto River Canoe and Kayak Commission (ERCK) is based out of Colleton County and is launching its annual winter paddle series. The first paddle on October 16 on the Edisto River went from the Mars Oldfield Landing to Givhans Ferry State Park, approximately a 6.5-mile trip. The ERCK owns a shuttle van, canoes, kayaks, paddles and all the gear necessary to paddle and anyone can pay a fee to rent the gear and join the paddling fun.

Alta Mae Marvin has been paddling the Edisto River all her life, since her father shared his passion for the Edisto with her. “I’ve been a commissioner with ERCK since about 1986, and our mission has always been to educate others about the Edisto River,” said Marvin. “Today we offer guided trips like the one today for both experienced and newbie paddlers. The idea for ERCK came up years ago when a group of paddling enthusiasts were literally sitting on a sandbar out in the Edisto River.”

According to Marvin, there are 63-miles of the Edisto River that are designated as a paddle trail.

“The paddle today is unique because it ties into the Edisto Blackwater Boogie event at Givhans Ferry State Park,” said Jonathan Burroughs, park manager at Colleton State Park and the newest ERCK commissioner. “The Blackwater Boogie is a concert event for paddling enthusiasts, and while the concert requires a separate ticket from our ERCK paddle, it makes sense to partner with them. The cost for this ERCK trip is $35 for rental equipment and a shuttle bus ride from Givhans Ferry to the put in at Mars Oldfield.”

Hugo Kryspin is the Executive Director of the Friends of the Edisto River (FRED) and also serves as the Edisto Riverkeeper. “I’ll paddle with ERCK today, and will be at the FRED booth at Backwater Boogie tonight,” said Kryspin. “The river is slightly up right now, which has raised the speed of the river current up just a tick to about 5 miles per hour. Today’s paddle usually lasts about four hours and doesn’t offer many tight turns to navigate. The river usually rises some heading into winter when the trees drop their leaves.”

A safety meeting is held with all paddlers before the trip to determine who is a newbie and might need some guidance. On this trip, a paddler came from Columbia and it was his first time in a kayak, so he was taught the proper stroke when using a kayak paddle. Paddlers are encouraged to tie off any gear in their boat, just in case they capsize into the river. The ERCK commissioners serve as the paddle guides and are always close by and monitoring the other paddlers on their trips.

To learn more about ERCK visit the Internet at www.ercktrail.org for the latest news and winter paddle dates.