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Paddle is what we did last weekend on January 13th and 14th for an overnight canoe camping trip with Wayne and Lynda Charles and Sandy and I. We met at El Dorado Outpost on Hwy 109 just out of Troy, NC and went to the take out to leave a vehicle. We put in on Section 2 of Paul Ferguson’s Paddling Eastern North Carolina, which is on High Pine Church Road in Randolph County.
This put in is really a test of strength and sure-footedness, as you park on the road near the bridge, carry gear down a little slippery hill in the woods, down a trail, and then the hard part; under the bridge there is a steep hill going down to the water between the bridge supports. Doesn’t sound rough, well try that with all the camping gear, boat, drinking water and what nots. This is enough to wear you out before you get started. I was ready to pitch my tent under the bridge before even paddling.
Once we got on the river, it was nice and easy paddling down this river but with the Class I rapids at certain times you had to pay attention, particularly with a canoe loaded with gear. We stopped at Burney Mill Road for lunch and we took some pictures of us standing in a split trunk tree. After about 7 miles we made it to the end of Section 2, Low Water Bridge.
This bridge is so low to the water it almost looks like a pontoon bridge. We decided to take the gear out of the canoes and do the short portage to the other side of the bridge. On the other side there are boulders and it is tricky getting the canoe in and gear loaded back in the canoe.
We paddled another 3 miles and made camp at Wayne and Lynda’s favorite campsite on river left. We joked around about whether they burned all the firewood around that camp and they even have a special spot reserved for their tent. Taking out at this campsite is another small chore, as you have to unload the gear and pull the canoe up a small hill. I am ready for a cold drink after all this. Camp was set up and firewood gathered.
The campsite is on a small bluff overlooking the river and you can hear the water through the rapids making for good sleeping. That night we cooked steaks, potatoes and broccoli and cheese and sat around the fire, as the night was clear and getting a little cold.
Next morning after a round of coffee and tea, breakfast was cooked and we sat around more, like we did not have anything to do that day. This is what I call the “Life of Riley” and is pure bliss. We broke camp around 10:30 and paddled on to the Hwy 109 Bridge, about 14 miles from the start.
Approximately 100 yard down stream on river right is a river gauging station but not connected to the Internet. They have a gauge you can read and it read 2.32, a good level for this trip. We made the take out after another two miles where the river comes close to the road and there is an empty field.
We used to go another 5 miles from the bridge on Cotton Place Rd, however the US Forest Service has closed this road. This take out is also kind of rough. It is on a steep hill and trying to get grip on the hill was impossible. The dirt and mud felt like someone greased the whole thing. Wayne and I left to go back to the put in to pick his truck up and when we came back the women had all the gear carried to the road and lunch ready.
A nice weekend trip, good weather, beautiful scenery, and the only wildlife we saw were turtles, herons, ducks and kingfishers. This is the third time camping on this section and I will definitely do it again.