With the cancellation of our own trip, Omer and I decided to join a
float on the Black River that was posted on the NC Paddle Trails
website. The trip was led by Michael Snyder from Wilmington.
People from Wilmington, Goldsboro, Fayetteville and other areas met
at the Wildlife ramp at Ivanhoe with the original intent of doing
Section 5 down to Beattys Bridge. Jim Dupree did his normal D-trip
and paddled upstream against strong current and arrived just before
10 AM. Because of the high water and fast current, a consensus vote
elected to go upstream to NC 41 and paddle both Sections 2 and 3
instead, so Jim Dupree had to hitch a ride to the new put-in point.
In all, there were 13 kayaks, one tandem canoe and me in my solo
This was a different crowd from the LRCC's motley band of
individuals. These folk had fine, long, shiny, sleek, polished
kayaks, all new looking and well kept. A lot of kevlar and carbon
fiber was to be seen, even the one Wenonah tandem canoe was kevlar
and looked like new. On the other hand, my 3 year old green Weenie,
with its scratches and creases and dents and scrubs, looked like it
had been balled up wet and thrown in the corner to dry.
Since Jim Dupree's vehicle was at the original takeout at Beattys
bridge, now 22 and a half miles downstream, Omer saw a chance to
rack some miles. He and Jim hit the water fast and that fleeting
glimpse was the last we saw of them.
The current was indeed fast and the river was right at flood stage,
over the banks and flooding swamp in many places, still within it's
better banks in other spots. We got on the water after 11 AM and
took out right at 4 PM with a half hour lunch stop, covering 15 and
a half miles. Trip leader Michael Snyder had scouted these sections
a few weeks before in a power boat with a friend and found no real
obstacles, but on our way down we did find one new downfall that
provided very little inconvienence, other that the concern that
boats might get scratched.
This group stayed together! They all waited until everyone was in
the water before taking off. If they got strung out, the leaders
waited for the stragglers to catch up. The tandem canoe team was
usually in the lead (if you don't count the disspearing Omer and
Jim). At the few spots where maneuvering was needed, everyone
waited downstream until everyone got through the obstacle.
There was one spot where a down tree caused the need to single file
past so I did the LRCC thing and jumped the log between some
branches while everyone went through the unrestricted opening, but
no one followed suit. I found a shortcut and yelled at the paddlers
so that they could see the way but no one risked their boats in the
shallow water. I ran another short cut but again no one followed.
At the lunch stop and take out, everyone was very careful about
where they pulled up and no one ran their boats up on shore, they
were very careful to avoid scratches and scuffs. When they loaded
their boats at the end of the day, I saw a lot of inspections going
on for surface damage. Everyone was careful to pick up their boats,
even helping each other carry them; I was the only troglodyte that
dragged my canoe like a tired shoe down the shoulder of the road or
up the ramp at the take out. I was the only person to board my canoe
on semi-dry land and ski pole myself into the water (scratching my
boat bottom along the way). Overall, I generally felt outclassed, I
really must mind my manners better when among strangers.
Based on the comments I heard, most of this group paddled different
waters. Many folks talked about the current and were suprised by
the effect it had on their long kayaks. With the river running high
and strong and with big channels, bends in the river were often
subject to big eddy currents and large boiling spots where currents
changed and battled. These boils would quickly grab a boat and push
it around suddenly. Coming around sharp bends, close to shore, a
few people got pushed into the bank suddenly when the eddy currents
proved stronger than they were. One person was impressed when a
current took them into a tree when he didn't want to go there. I
thought to myself, oh ho! this is not the coastal paddling that
these folks are used to and that their boats were better suited for.
At the Ivanhoe takeout, a paddler offered to take me to the put in
to get my car (I was one of 3 shuttles). By the time I got back to
Ivanhoe and loaded my boat, Omer and Jim arrived to get Omer's
truck. They had run the extra 7.6 miles, loaded and driven back in
the time it took us to do two sections and load our boats.
The day had some wind, started out a bit cold and warmed nicely by
days end with the spring sun. The river was wide with few
obstacles. The river rose another inch or two during our trip, but
it was a great time to be on the water. Omer got more than 21 miles
for his quest and Jim posted an impressive 29+ miles.