Trip Report - The Last of the Lumber
- Today, March 2, a group of us gathered at Rice Cove Landing near Nichols SC to paddle the last little bit of the Lumber River before it joins the Little Pee Dee River in South Carolina.
Because of the distances involved, Walter Bull and I both offered carpooling. Actually, Emory Sadler provided the car and Walter provided the canoe trailer, but nobody else opted to join them in their trip. My wife Pam and I met Omer Register and Frank Dupin in St. Pauls where we loaded boats and gear while Frank stuffed his face with pancakes and butter and syrup and hogmeat and coffee. Just as we all loaded into Pam's truck, a snow flurry began and lasted for 4-5 minutes.
We met Tom Pawlicky at Rice Cove Landing before 9 AM under cloudy skies that showed some breaks on southern horizon. Three of us shuttled and we were on the water exactly at 10 AM, 6 kayaks and 1 token canoe to keep it legal.
The Lumber River was at near flood stage, with the water just running out into the swamp in places and this gave us a current in excess of 2 miles per hour. The river is wide and flows in long runs with broad sweeping curves. We could have easily paddled six abreast in most places and often paddles 4 wide as we made steady progress and socialized.
With the overcast skies and the gray leafless trees, the river had a black and white feel to it. The temperature was just above 40 degrees and stayed that way the whole time we paddled. There was some houses along the banks near Nichols but then the river became wild and isolated until we hit the Little Pee Dee.
We made more than 4 miles in the first hour and it was clear to me when we made the confluence with the Little Pee Dee. River left is mostly a wilderness area managed by the Little Pee Dee Heritage Preserve. The Little Pee Dee is heavily populated with houses on river right. Where the Pee Dee and the Lumber converge, the river doubles in width and volume, becoming a wide open thoroughfare that should be very popular with fishing and pleasure boats and a haven for jet skis. The Little Pee Dee has very long straight runs of open water, especially at this high level.
We stopped at about 6 miles and 1.5 hours on river left for lunch. After getting back on the water by noon, we were all supprised when we reached our takeout 2 miles and 30 minutes later. Walter's GPS indicated that we had paddled a little over 8 miles; even with a lunch break, the current and our steady paddling caused us to make the entire trip in 2.5 hours.
It really seemed strange to be in our cars with loaded boats at 1 PM, a time when we are usually finishing our lunch stop and still have half the river to go. We all had a good time and were amazed by the boost that the current gave us.
I am sure that this section of river is quite beautiful in the green of summer and at lower water there will be many sandbars for enjoyment. I can now say that I have paddle the entire length of the Lumber and may scratch this last section off the to-do list.