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The day was overcast and threatening rain, but it wasn't raining yet when I put in at the Wildlife boating access at Whitetail Landing (just north of the US 117 bridge across the Neuse). The rain began about 5 minutes after I launched, but that was OK because the temperatures were fine for a wet afternoon of paddling.
I paddled upstream about 1 1/3 miles (just beyond the point where some high-tension power lines cross the river) before I turned around. Upstream at the next bend I could see two large strainers (very big trees...one from each bank) have blocked a majority of the river. Being alone, I decided it would not be prudent to attempt the upstream passage between them despite the low water levels. The float back to the access site was slow and leisurely and I spotted herons, ducks, and some nutria during the passage.
I also had what was one of the most thrilling moments of my life during the float back. A hawk (maybe an Osprey, but I'm not sure as the light was not optimal) dove and took a fish from the river not more than 60 feet in front of me. Simply beautiful!
After I got back to the access site, I decided that I had had enough of a rest that some more paddling could be attempted, so I continued to float about 1/3 of a mile downstream to check the confluence of the Neuse Cutoff with the River. Water levels are currently low enough that the part of the cutoff that I could see was not navigable by canoe, but the view up the stream bed with its overarching trees was a sight for which I wish I'd had a working camera! After talking with a couple of fishermen, I paddled back upstream to the access site, loaded up the canoe, and headed home.
Total elapsed time: 2 1/2 hours
Additionally, I used the USGS Map labeled "Southwest Goldsboro." The access site is indicated on it.