3/9/21 to 3/12/21: Hanging on Anchor Off Cumberland Island
It still surprises me when a trip, any trip, assumes a "theme" that impacts the overall travel experience in an unexpected, marvelous way. For this ICW adventure, the state of Georgia became our special surprise. Heading south, we moved through Georgia's waterways quickly as we were intent on getting to Jacksonville, our winter destination. Even in that brief time, though, we oohed and aahed about Georgia's tranquil waters and stunning morning and evening skies. On our return trip through the same waters, gorgeous Georgia continued to draw us in and we lingered longer.
Cumberland Island is the largest of Georgia's barrier islands and is accessible only by boat. It gained notoriety in the late 19th century as a summer sanctuary for the rich and famous. Today it's a magical, mystical place covered by a canopy of dense live oaks, Spanish moss, and palmettos. The lucky visitors that make the effort to explore here can hike and camp, see the ruins of a Carnegie mansion and most enjoyable, watch the antics of the herd of wild horses that comes and goes as it pleases.
We dropped anchor just off the island and took the dinghy to shore for a couple different daytrips. Trails spider off in multiple directions. One took us toward Dungeness, the burned out remains of the Carnegie summerhouse. Another took us to the white sand beach on the other side of the island.
Pillars and partial walls of brick and plaster are all that remain of the once extravagant Carnegie home. There's a sadness about the place which instantly lifts when several of the island's equine residents amble onto the surrounding grassy carpet to munch a snack. The horses paid no attention to any of us human visitors, though I have no doubt they can bite or kick if feeling cornered. They looked healthy and in charge. What a delight.
Our hike to the beach brought us to the rolling Atlantic on a blue sky day, white sand glittering. A seemingly color coordinated horse poked his head over a dune to check us out before plodding his way along the beach.
Each of our three nights we enjoyed a pretty sunset and appreciated the fine weather that made our stay at Cumberland Island particularly memorable.
|A first night sunset and fitting ending to a really fun day.
|Our trusty dinghy took us to and from the island from Oasis.
|The view not far from where we came ashore.
|A dense forest of live oak, Spanish moss and palmetto covers much of the island, lending a mysterious ambiance to the quiet.
|These (all?) horses love to eat. They paid no attention to us and, as it should be, seemingly own the island. That's Dungeness, or what's left of it, in the background. And Mark.
|More horses and house ruins.
|Fire in the sky.
|A color-coordinated pony wandering the Sea Camp beach on Cumberland.
|Cumberland Island felt like a world unto itself. We did see people during our visit, but it's a fairly isolated spot, which makes it feel special. I liked it a lot and am so glad we could be here.
|The remains of a large horseshoe crab.
|Oasis on anchor off Cumberland Island.
|Another pretty Georgia sunset.