Friday, October 25, 2013

Tales of Two Paddles

Our last camp and paddle trip to Merchants Millpond State Park yielded three great paddle days. So when we set out earlier this week for another trip to MMPSP we had high hopes.

Well, we loafed at the campsite Monday afternoon, did not paddle, and enjoyed the solitude of being the only campers in the park. Tuesday was overcast with threatening rain but we put the canoe in the water anyway. The millpond was choked with duckweed and we struggled to make it back to Bennett's Creek. The water was high and we made good progress up the creek, but after one slow detour around a beaver dam and a portage (with lunch break) we turned around, failing to beat last Spring's upstream distance record. However, on the way back we were rewarded with an up-close look at a bald eagle; first flying low beside us through the trees, then a few minutes later circling around to our left side with a limp heron hanging from his talons. Wow!

We were up early Wednesday morning but the light rain and cold temps drove us back to Raleigh with dry paddles. However, since the canoe was still on top of the car and Thursday looked like a good day to paddle, we headed 80 miles east on Thursday morning to get in a day paddle on Contentnea Creek, upstream and back, from the Snow Hill boat ramp. It was a very nice paddle, reminding Sun-Ling and I of the blackwater creeks of Florida. The water level at the Hookerton gauge was 5.31 feet and we paddled over most of the downed trees but did have to portage a downed tree around the oxbow. We'll definitely be back to the Contentnea which has about 80 miles of navigable waters.

Campfire.
Campfire - Merchants Millpond State Park - Gatesville, NC

Bennett's Creek Portage and lunch.
Lunch Spot - Up Bennett's Creek - Merchants Millpond State Park - Gatesville, NC

Up Bennett's Creek - Merchants Millpond State Park - Gatesville, NC

Duckweed on the Millpond.
Merchants Millpond State Park - Gatesville, NC

Contentnea Creek Portage and lunch.
Lunch Spot - Cententnea Creek - West of Snow Hill Put-in

Florida? No. It's North Carolina.
Cententnea Creek - West of Snow Hill Put-in

The put-in at Snow Hill.
Boat Ramp - Snow Hill, NC

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