I was back for my 7th year attending the annual gathering in the Hellhole area
of Francis Marion National Forest in Berkeley County, South Carolina. I am an amateur herpetologist and the creator of
South Carolina Reptiles and Amphibians.
Each spring, Jeff Holmes and
his fans gather for a weekend of nature interpretation, fellowship, and music.
Jeff is a philosopher turned song writer and naturalist.
He performs in the two person group known as The Floating Men.
Over the years, he has attracted a loyal group of followers who call themselves The Floatilla.
By day, Jeff is a Conservation Planner/Senior Field Biologist for
Conservation Southeast, Inc.
Jeff is also very active in Southeastern Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
This year we had 26 participants over the four days of the gathering.
Experienced herpers, including me, served as guides for the others. So not to mislead, let me say that our brand of
herping was more arm chair, or car seat, than macho herping in the swamp and forest.
I believe we all enjoyed the outing. The past two years, the Forest had been in a drought. So far this year there has been
plentiful rainfall. We had some rain events during the outing, but this just encouraged more creatures to move about.
As in past years, we had a group permit for the outing from the Forest Service.
Things went well, except for my getting stuck while attempting to turn around on a narrow roadway. Some of us went out for a
last cruise before the concert on Saturday night. I was alone in my van about 7 miles from camp when I made my ill-fated
decision. There was no way for me to extract myself. My cellphone had no service, so I had to wait about two hours for my
colleagues to miss me and start a search. There was very little night light, except for the fireflies. I had plenty of water
and food. Mosquitoes were vicious, but the van has three small screened windows which I opened. I could have stayed there all
night in reasonable comfort. The van was broadside across the road, so my biggest worry was that someone speeding along this deserted road would
not be paying attention. For a while, I played SOS on my van horn to no avail. I was grateful to be rescued, but sorry that
my accident interrupted Jeff's concert.
SC Reptiles and Amphibians: Hellhole 2009 snakesandfrogs.com