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Rockfish Creek - Davis Bridge to Golfview - 5/30/06

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  • Jim DePree
    About 3 years ago, the dam on Rockfish Creek which formed Lake Upchurch broke. This happened the same night that Hope Mills Lake dam broke but, unlike that
    Message 1 of 1 , May 30, 2006
      About 3 years ago, the dam on Rockfish Creek which formed Lake
      Upchurch broke. This happened the same night that Hope Mills' Lake
      dam broke but, unlike that dam, there seems to be actual work taking
      place on Lake Upchurch which means it may become a lake again
      sometime soon. This would deprive us of the rare opportunity to view
      this section of Rockfish Creek and, who knows, bizarre creatures of
      the deep such as were brought up by the tsunami or maybe rare paleo-
      indian dugout canoes (we did, in fact, notice some of both, but,
      alas, no one thought to bring a camera.)

      So six of us got together at Hungry Jack's at Davis Bridge on
      Tuesday, and proceeded to venture into the unknown. Frank Dupin came
      up with the idea for this trip but he got a little wild and crazy on
      the Haw on Saturday placing himself on the injured list.
      Nonetheless, he was able to provide a shuttle for the rest of us to
      Waldo's Beach. Thanks, Frank.

      We launched at Mickey's, just upstream from Davis about 10 and
      immediately encountered fairly typical low water Rockfish Creek (2.6
      feet at Raeford), i.e. treefall every 100 yards or so to go over,
      under, around, or through. Fortunately, in about 1/2 mile, we
      reached the section where the lake used to be. Since no serious
      trees have had an opportunity to grow there in the last 50 years or
      so, this sandy bottomed section is fairly clear other than some very
      old tree fall, or driftwood sitting on the bottom. With a good
      current, the riffles occasionally approached Class I and very little
      paddling was required.

      Somewhere around the entrance to the lake, Diane discovered a Chow
      puppy drawn by our voices to the edge of the water. After some
      investigation, no older dogs or people were discovered, nor
      habitation thereof, so "Rocky" as Jim dubbed him (get it, Rockfish,
      Rocky), joined our party briefly. That is until Jim and Diane were
      able to pawn him off on the staff at Camp Rockfish.

      We did find ourselves in the bottom of an increasingly steep walled
      ravine with few of the usual landmarks on the lakeshore visible to
      us. Occasionally we would be looking up the hill 20 feet our so at
      docks which may have once been at water level. We began to wonder if
      we would be able to spot Waldo's beach when we got there.
      Fortunately, about 11:30 we spotted the top of the water slide poking
      up over the ridge, and after climbing ten feet up to the bottom of
      the boat ramp, we at lunch in the shade on the fishing pier, which
      now requires a fifty foot cast from it's furthest extent to even
      reach the edge of the water. We also took the opportunity to
      transfer our cars down to Golfview Drive, the next bridge below the
      dam.

      After lunch, the creek continued to drop relative to the docks and
      other development along the lakeside. We rousted a mother Canadian
      goose who trumpeted repeatedly while skimming along the water for
      about a half mile to draw us away from her nest. Also spotted in
      this section were a family of ducks, a hawk, and some redwing
      blackbirds. We reached the dam about a mile below Waldos. The
      active heavy equipment was on river left so we went to the right
      cutting over mud flats, through an old construction which may have
      been an earlier dam or weir, then up about 40 feet of steep sand and
      loose rock to the top. After cresting, it was a fairly mild path
      down to a pleasant beach and easy put-in below the dam. The dam
      gates are apparently wide open during the reconstruction of the berm
      (which is what actually burst in 2003). Nonetheless, the builtup
      flotsam prevents any possibility of navigating through it.

      Below the dam, some clearing is in evidence although the way remains
      interesting down to Golfview with at least ten spots requiring a
      portage or hop. The way is beautiful nonetheless, a well canopied
      stream with steep clay banks and some streams forming waterfalls off
      the sides in spots. A great blue heron preceded us most of the way
      down with many turtles and ducks also seen. Some heavy equipment was
      heard off to the right through most of the trip, foreboding more
      development along the way. Toward the end, a plethora of trash
      including an old pedal boat, advertised the outlet of Fantasy Lake
      nearby.

      We arrived at the take-out about 2:30, all fairly intact, if a little
      muddy in spots. Paddlers included Jim McDermott, Diane Smith, Robert
      Caudill, Omer Register, William Gillis, yours truly, and, briefly,
      Rocky, Camp Rockfish's new mascot. Thanks to Jim for the second
      shuttle.
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