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The first half of the trip, from D'Lo to Merit Bridge, consists of a twisting, narrow creek with a nice-paced current and a fair number of obstructions to dodge (no portage required). Most of the pull-overs on this leg are steep, slippery mud banks. Shortly before Merit, there is a large, recently felled tree that required us to shimmy underneath -- there was maybe two feet of clearance with the low water level. Canoeists, or those paddling on higher water would be an even tighter fit! The bank is very steep here, so it's either over or under! However, the outfitter at D'Lo says that they plan to remove this tree soon. There is a take-out at Merit Bridge, but we pressed on another 5 or so miles.
The creek slows a bit, and widens to river shortly after Merit, and the scenery changes from mud banks to rock with gravel sandbars and islands. This section is postcard-pretty, with springs feeding into the water, some fun riffles, and more places to stop. We saw what we believed to be a small alligator on this stretch, but he submerged as we got closer.
There is a fairly large section of rapids not long before the Chappel Bridge. If you stay left, you should have a very fun ride around this hairpin turn in the river. If you stay right because you don't want to disturb the fishermen in the rapids, you will have a very tricky portage! There is a big, flat rock ledge opposite this rapid; it's a great place to stop and catch your breath, and enjoy the scenery.
The take-out at Chappel Bridge can be accessed by a very steep set of concrete stairs on the downstream side of the bridge, or via a path that leads from a downstream sandbar. There were campers on the sandbar, so we opted for the stairs. It looks near impossible to climb with a 40 pound yak, but it's do-able!
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