National Park Service workers equipped with headlamps paddled through the pitch black of a Congaree Swamp night Sunday to rescue five kayakers from Maryland lost on flooded Cedar Creek.
The kayakers used a cell phone to call Richland County emergency officials at about 8 p.m. Sunday to report they couldn't find their way to the takeout at South Cedar Creek Road. Flood waters have pushed the creek out of its banks, making it difficult to follow the marked canoe trail through Congaree Swamp National Monument.
The kayakers said two of the five had taken a spill and were wet, but they had enough food and water to make it through the night.
Bogle and Torrence followed the reflective markers nailed to trees on the Weston Lake foot trail. Because of flooding along the Congaree River, much of that trail is under water.
The rescue was the second in two weeks. Torrence and DNR employee Stephanie Brown found a 63-year-old hiker who got disoriented and spent a night in the park April 6. Bogle said those are the only rescues in her eight years as superintendent.
It's hard to get lost if you stay on the marked foot and canoe trails at the 22,000-acre national park. But flooding makes it difficult to follow the canoe trail because rising water covers trail markers.
Congaree Swamp on web: