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I had planned on paddling Sections 1-3 from Paul Ferguson’s book “Paddling Eastern North Carolina” Our Saturday paddle would have been just under 15 miles to Jasper Memory campsite. Then on Sunday paddle to Hwy 71 for around 10 miles. Joining me on the trip was my wife Mandy and Juan Rios, my adventuring buddy.
Mandy and I camped on Friday at the Turnpike Rd.(1412) Put-in. It was uneventful and the parking area was a mess with litter and broken glass. Juan was coming first thing Saturday morning. Unfortunately Juan’s car broke down just as he arrived at the put in. There went our shuttle. We had someone who could give us a lift when we got through, so we decided to go ahead and start our trip.
At 10am we launched. Shortly after the put in we started encountering the trees. I knew there were going to be some trees but it was almost a rats nest. During the first part of the day we could hardly go one turn on the river without a serious tree to deal with. My wife did not have enough boat control to maneuver around some of the obstacles. It was very difficult and early on she capsized while I was trying to get her around a log. We were paddling sea kayaks so it was quite difficult to get through the first part of the river. We cut one small limb before we got to the Chalk Banks Campsite. I wish I had time to cut more to help others but I was afraid we would get stuck on the river at dark. We stopped for lunch somewhere before chalk banks on a small dry spot river left near a rope swing. We got to Chalk Banks around 2pm. The river started clearing up some after that but there were still many trees. About an hour later we reached Hwy 401. Sometime between Chalk Banks and 1404 there were at least 3 trees that we either had to drag our boats around in shallow water or I had to get out and pull them over while standing on it. It became clear that we were not going to make Jasper Memory Campsite so we stopped and scouted the surroundings of hwy 1404 around 4:30pm.
We found a “fishin’ hole” close to the bridge and pulled out near the platforms or docks. I tried to ask permission to camp up on a sandy area at a house across the road but no one would answer the door. We camped anyway and kept out heads down so to speak. No one bothered us on Saturday night. We called someone to give us a ride to my truck on Sunday Morning. It was looking like rain and none of us felt like log hopping.
Overall it was a tough trip. If we had shorter boats or maybe used canoes, I think we would have navigated the fallen trees better. The scenery was very beautiful. Other than the roads we passed under, I saw no signs of any houses or civilization. I would like to go back and paddle another section of this river further downstream.
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