Charleston's 50 Most Progressive
CHRIS CROLLEYIndiana Jones of the Coast
Captain Chris Crolley hunches his shoulders and slinks down the trail imitating the gait of a raccoon.
He's explaining the the tracks he just spotted in the sand. Tracks that belong, judging by his description, to a real life Rodent of Unusual Size, right here in the wilderness of Bulls Island.
"See, a raccoon moves like that," he stands straight, having effectively illustrated his point. "But these tracks are definitely a fox squirrel."
The Captain is a naturalist extraordinaire.
The sort of guy who knows everything you could ever wish to know about a single place, including the specific animal responsible for a set of dusty tracks in the trail. In just one hour, he's identified a dozen birds, noted use of several plants, and refused to call himself a teacher.
Bulls Island is both his turf and his playground, and it's his mission to give you a connection to this untamed wild.
"The world is a push button," he explains. "We've decided television is stimulating enough. I'm here to say that's not enough; you deserve more than that."
Crolley started with with Coastal Expeditions in 1994 as the company's first employee. Now, almost 20 years later, he calls the outfit his own and maintains a sort of wild-eyed, charismatic exuberance reserved for people genuinely living their passion.
His goal is not to teach people about Bulls Island, but connect the to it, let them feel it. Bulls Island is a rare escape from the urban buzz. An island filled with wildlife, isolated beaches, and miles of unfettered trails.
"I'm just trying to champion a cause to keep human beings connected with the earth."
And with one expedition at a time, he wins the people over.
Caroline MIllard, February 2012Charlie Magazine