Blaze A Trail

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The Appalachian Trail. The Pacific Coast Trail.

We’ve read the stories of the folks who traverse these epic landscapes to reconnect to their essential selves, to escape and to heal from life’s hardships. But what if we reverse that narrative and it is the land and the people that need us to come to them for renewal?

The 400-mile stretch of southeastern coast between Cape Fear, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida is an irreplaceable geography, marked by the meeting of sea and soil that is low and lush. And, it is as distinctive for its impacts on more than 300 years of American history. It is the only place in the world where the remnants of indigo, cotton and rice plantations—and the West and Central African slave labor that supported them—has yielded a singular culture of folklore, family, food, music, language and dance that has been kept alive by the first freedmen’s descendants—even today. But, it is a culture in danger of fading for good.

In 2006, Congress designated the sea islands and a 30-mile inland swath along this coastline as the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, enacted specifically to help protect historic sites and provide assistance for the preservation of this unique assemblage of people, place and story. Start at either its north or south end and take your time along the scenic byways of U.S. highways 17 and 21. Make a series of day trips or one epic excursion. Luxuriate or get back to nature. However you experience the journey, immerse yourself in this uniquely American history—because what we come to value, we cherish, and what we cherish, we protect.

For the full story, subscribe now for the January/February 2017 issue of Savannah magazineAvailable on stands 1/1 here.

 

 

Written by Amy Paige Condon.Photography compiled by Shelby Dieckamp. Photo courtesy of Charleston Area CVB. 

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