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Black River Trip Report from Sunday 3/9

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  • Mitch Lloyd
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2008
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      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
      canoe.

      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.
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