Waccamaw River, Section 1, Saturday April 20
- Jim McDermott led a trip, through the CCPaddlers group, on the Waccamaw River and I joined in. We had as much fun as Omer's trip on the Rockfish Creek, maybe more. Our trip was over 11 miles as well, and in Jim's report below, he lies, because we didn't get to the takeout until after 5 PM. I know, because Pam was whining for the last 4 miles and I kept checking my watch to see how much daylight we might have left and if it was too late for supper and should we just go to breakfast instead.
The last couple of years of drought, which has caused the Waccamaw to go dry in the summer, plus the addition of some custom beaver dams and the closing of a fishing access spot on Old Dock Road, has caused the local fishermen to abandon their frequent use of much of this river. Around the Crusoe Island area, still used by local fishermen, the blockages were cleaned out and the river was easily passible. Upstream and downstream from the area known as the Fishponds, there were a lot of this-year blowdowns and they were exagerated by the very low water levels.
Anyway, here is Jim's description, it's as good as any I do.
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2012 07:13:20 -0400
Subject: Trip Report, Waccamaw River, 4/21
Well, it wasn't the "Walk-a-mile" River -- maybe more like the "Bounce-and-haul-a-mile" River. As we like to say in the paddling game, it looked good from the bridge (dam, in this case). Emery pointed out at the start that the minimum flow and level for section 1 of the Waccamaw are 300 fps and 3.5 feet while according to Walter, we had 80 fps and 2.8 feet to work with. In my own defense, I offered several other options, but everyone agreed that we should press on, and there lies the trouble with democracy.
We still could have turned back after we hot our first major deadfall and portage less than a hundred yards from put-in, but noooo, "it looks clear downstream." I had my chainsaw ready at the next blockage and fought off Mitch's attempts to expropriate it for his own post-operative tree whacking check. Had the chainsaw not given up the ghost at the halfway point, we might have finished an hour earlier and with fewer wounds. As it was, we launched at 10:40 and crawled out at Blackman's Landing 11 miles later at 4:30.
On the plus side, we had many stretches of placid and beautiful river in gorgeous weather; we passed under enormous old growth cypress and tupelo trees; saw numerous birds and other wildlife including a flock of wood storks, several Anhingas (a.k.a. snake birds), a nutria, and a copper-headed water rattler. I earned the prestigious Turtle Rescue Merit Badge for saving a big Slider from a trot line hooking and Mitch won the Gee I Caught a Fish Without Trying Trophy for his remarkable ability to lure a six inch pickerel into his canoe while remaining upright. Also, much to Pam's relief, we did not
have to carry Mitch (or Pam) out of the swamp. And very best of all, the Lloyds and McDermotts got to sample the delicious seafood delicacies of Dales at the end of the day. So, I still rate this an overall good day (which we will NOT repeat until the minimums are reached).