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Trip Report

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  • James H. Mcdermott
    It was a beautiful day for a river run on a beautiful stretch of the Lumber shared with a great group of folks. At nine p.m. last (Friday) night, I was
    Message 1 of 5 , Aug 4, 2012
      It was a beautiful day for a river run on a beautiful stretch of the Lumber shared with a great group of folks. At nine p.m. last (Friday) night, I was expecting only George Sachno to join us for the trip from Boardman to Princess Ann but within minutes I got calls from Dan Hamilton and newcomer, Sarah Salisbury who said they were going on the run. The next morning, Greg Matheson called to say he was on the road to join us. While we were unloading our boats at the put-in, Andy Kurzman, whom we had missed at Rockingham last week AFTER he called to say he was going, sneaked in without warning (he probably figured that we couldn't avoid him that way). Then, when we returned from the shuttle, Rob Coffin was already unloading his boat -- he said he had called me on his way to the put-in, and I got that call when I returned home later. Anyway with Dan and his son Drew and his friend Doug Bert and his son Connor, and Georges companion Lori Walton, we wound up with seven kayaks and two canoes on the run.


      We were on the water by 10 a.m. The water level was good and there were no obstacles to cause any stress. We stopped once before lunch for a swim; had lunch at the lunch landing at the halfway point; stopped for two more swim breaks; and made it to the take-out by 3 p.m. Saw a couple of turtles; a copper-headed water rattler disguised as a brown water snake, and a couple of herons. Good day with a good group.


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    • James H. Mcdermott
      Mia and I and the dogs met up with Mitch, Omer and David Serina at Morrison Bridge on the Lower Little River this morning at 9:30 for the run to John Neal Shaw
      Message 2 of 5 , Oct 13, 2012
        Mia and I and the dogs met up with Mitch, Omer and David Serina at Morrison Bridge on the Lower Little River this morning at 9:30 for the run to John Neal Shaw Road. We had a brisk start with air temp in the low fifties. We didn't have to go too far to find out that the water temp was much cooler as "Chainsaw" Mitch and his aides (me and Omer) had to wade in to clear a downed tree at the first bend -- just the first of many clearing efforts. The good news: the river was low today; the bad news: except for those places where we had to get out to clear downed trees. Mitch, Omer and I are calling ourselves "Stihl-men" and will attempt to convince Stihl to use us in their next marketing campaign -- we plan to send them a picture of us standing in chest deep water holding Stihl saws and smiling (if we can stop our teeth from chattering). Anyway, we ran out of things to cut and haul by the time we reached Boundary Creek at the beginning of Ft. Bragg's property, and the warm sun soon dried us. We took out around 4:30 after what usually is a four hour run that doesn't include an hour or so of clearing. So, to you guys who run this stretch next, go ahead and enjoy the open river -- no need to say thanks.

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      • James H. Mcdermott
        Well, in all fairness, Marshal tried to talk me out of doing the nine miler from Lowe Road to Kenric Road today, but the weather was warm and sunny and, even
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 4, 2012
          Well, in all fairness, Marshal tried to talk me out of doing the nine miler from Lowe Road to Kenric Road today, but the weather was warm and sunny and, even though the water level was low, it looked good from the bridge. I did however let Marshall convince me to leave his van at the entrance to the dirt road leading to the Back Swamp canal at mile 3.9, though I was pretty sure it was a waste of time, but after nearly four hours on the Lumber and multiple cut throughs, haul overs, duck unders and much bending and twisting, we made it to the canal and called it quits. Andy Kurtzman estimated the mtbd (mean time between deadfall) at about 5 minutes, but near the end it was more like 30 seconds. My recently shop cleaned, tuned and sharpened Stihl chain saw was put to good use. At one stop, I attempted to imitate Mitch Lloyd by holding my saw over my head while slipping chest deep in muck (still haven't developed Mitch's knack of standing neck deep in water WHILE cutting a downed tree - more practice, I guess). Janet Grey and Mia dutifully cheered and applauded my efforts while Ralph Hamilton critiqued (Ralph isn't really impressed unless there are multiple beaver dams to traverse in the dark in a snowstorm). The crowning moment came when Marshall could not find his keys after we had walked the half mile out of the swamp to his van. Calling your wife in such a situation takes a brave man who is willing to face the derisive sneering of a woman who thought she had a quiet afternoon to herself (the loss in good husband points is enormous in these cases). We did find Marshall's keys in my van which redeemed some of his brownie points. All said and done, this is a beautiful section which will wait for warmer weather and deeper water (and Mitch Lloyd) before I attempt it again.

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        • James H. Mcdermott
          Another week, another swamp. Today (4/2/16), Omer Register led Mary Ellen Lavoie, Van Parker, George Sachno, Dave Pippen, Mia and me (Jim McDermott) down
          Message 4 of 5 , Apr 2 1:15 PM
            Another week, another swamp. Today (4/2/16), Omer Register led Mary Ellen Lavoie, Van Parker, George Sachno, Dave Pippen, Mia and me (Jim McDermott) down Thoroughfare Swamp from Hwy 13 outside of Grantham to Falling Creek, finishing at Cox's Mill, about seven miles altogether.  Unlike the bald cypress Three Sisters Swamp on the Black River, Thoroughfare Swamp is a meandering channel through a mixed flooded forest of pond cypress, black gum, water oak, and pond pines.  At today's water level, the main channel was fairly easy to follow with only a few bump overs and one short portage.  At the outset of the paddle, Dave (New Dave) Pippen (from Mississippi, Mia), annoyed a brown water snake on a branch he was about to pass under.  The snake had been peacefully minding its own business until Dave splashed it with his paddle and it promptly dropped just short of Dave's kayak.

            One of our favorite sights on this run is the rookeries of herons, egrets and anhingas.  Over the past years, these rookeries have grown and the locations have moved.  As we paddled past the earlier rookeries, we began to feel that the absence of any bird sightings was a sign that they had packed up and moved to another swamp, but as we got closer to the merge with Falling Creek, there they were in several large water oaks beside the channel, dozens of them along with a crowd of black vultures and some crows.  It was good to see the neighborhood growing and getting along.

            The day had started off cool and cloudy, and when we stopped for lunch, we got hit with a burst of wind and rain before we could get our ponchos on.  So, we quickly threw on our ponchos over our wet clothes and paddled on in a light drizzle for the next mile or so.  It turned out that my poncho isn't waterproof anyway.

            Where Thoroughfare Swamp empties into Falling Creek, the water is channeled between rocky bluffs into a deep stream for about three miles to the old mill dam at Cox's Mill.  Along this section, there are more hardwoods and flowering trees and shrubs as well as stands of blooming atamasco lilies on the banks.  It is a beautiful section and except for one large downed tree requiring a portage, a very easy paddle.  We were off the river by 1:15.  I've posted photos on the club website.
          • James H. Mcdermott
            Water on the Lower Little River today was high and fast. Van Parker said the gauge read 12 feet at 400 cfs, which has to be 11 1/2 feet and 390 cfs higher
            Message 5 of 5 , Sep 24, 2016
              Water on the Lower Little River today was high and fast.  Van Parker said the gauge read 12 feet at 400 cfs, which has to be 11 1/2 feet and 390 cfs higher than we usually paddle it.  The put-in at Morrison Bridge Road was the easiest I've ever had there; we just stepped in our boats and paddled out to the river.  From there, though, it got wild on the upper stretches with it's many twists and turns and snags.  At times it felt like riding a bucking bronc without a rope, and two of our paddlers got unhorsed at a snag not too far downstream from the old hydroelectric dam.  The rapids at that first dam though were completely washed out -- no problem.  A couple of us went swimming to free up a boat that got snagged, and Andy jumped in our canoe to retrieve his kayak after stopping to help Maurice out of a jam.  Beyond Boundary Creek, there were no further problems and smooth paddling all the way to dam # 2, where we easily took out right at the top of the old concrete dam and smoothly dragged out boats to the very small beach on the right.   The take-out at John Neil Shaw Road was a snap, too. There were no sandbars anywhere on the river, and we had to pull out at the road cut at River Bend Ranch for lunch.  Our total time on the water today was 4 hours and 20 minutes including lunch.  Paddlers included the aforementioned Van Parker and Andy Kurtzman, Maurice Wren, Mary Ellen LaVoie, Chip Lee, and Mia, her sister Marsha and me.  Chip reminded me about his first paddle with us on the Lumber River when he managed to try three Eskimo rolls on his sit-upon kayak for which he was duly singled out in my trip report.  Well, rest easy, Chip, because today I pick on Maurice for attempting the infinitely difficult side roll under a log . . . twice.  It just keeps getting better and better.
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