Kayaking on the NE Cape Fear

Last Saturday, my son and I had the opportunity to kayak on the NE Cape Fear River from Chinquapin, NC to Wayne’s Landing off NC Hwy 41. Duane Kelly, a good friend from Scouting, took Joseph and I on this section of the river since we had never paddled it before. Duane and his son have been down this stretch of river before with their own Boy Scout Troop, so it was enjoyable to sit back and follow someone else for a change.

Our adventure began that morning around 9:00 am when we met Duane at the McDonalds in Burgaw, NC. We got back on the road and headed north on I-40 to the exit at 385 mile marker. In just few minutes we were standing at a very nice wildlife boat ramp on the river. At this ramp the river is only about 50 feet wide with a nice sandbar on the opposite side. Just to the left of the boat ramp was the bridge that we had just crossed. The river was moving fast and there was a somewhat of a strong northeast breeze blowing that morning. Fortunately, the breeze would blow at our backs for most of the day.

After a few minutes getting prepared and shuttling our vehicles to the take out spot, we were ready to start the day. It is amazing how life and your perspective can change when you get out on a river to paddle. It seems not matter where you go, or how many times you have been there, I am quickly taken away from the rat race of the world around me. For me it is a time to be quite and enjoy being with the people that I am with at that moment. It is also a time for me to enjoy the great outdoors that God created.

We started our adventures this morning not knowing what to expect. We had good reason for our apprehension, since about seven weeks before; the NE Cape Fear was above flood stage. Duane told me stories about the traveling nightmares he had trying to get around the flooded roads in the area in an effort to get to work. So we had no way of knowing how much the river would be littered with deadfall that would block our path to adventures. At the least this deadfall would provide ample opportunity for adventure and portage over and around many obstacles. So the prospects of getting wet that day were very good.

The first thing that I noticed was the number of sandbars along the river. If it had only been warmer weather! These sandbars would have provided a great opportunity to pull over to relax in the sun and have a little swim to cool off. As for the deadfall, there was plenty littering the river this morning. The good thing is that I only got stuck once and had to get out of my kayak one other time to portage both myself and Joseph over the logs. Not bad.

About halfway thought the trip, we heard some big splashing up ahead of us. As we got closer, we noticed a nice size buck trying his best to cross the river before we got to him. What a site to witness. Of all the time I have spent kayaking, I have only seen a site like this two other times. Anyway, once the buck got to the opposite side, he didn’t wait around for us to get any closer. On this day, we also got a chance to watch several King Fisher’s flying along the river, making a fuss as we passed by. These birds are common along the river and creeks of the Cape Fear River basin. These birds have a distinct sound that they make, so you can hear them most times before you ever see them.

There is very little development along this stretch of NE Cape Fear River, making it quite nice to take in the natural beauty of this area. However, this area seems popular with local fisher men because we saw many of them along the river this day. This also tells me that the river is great for fishing. Maybe one day I need to just float down the river and fish. What a way to spend the day. Anyway back to the trip.

The other thing I noticed were the numerous bluff’s along the river’s edge. There were many bluffs that rise about the river providing great camping location, as well as vantage points to climb up to just sit and watch the river flow by. There were even a few of the bluffs that had nice rope swings that could be enjoyed in warmer weather. I could only image a lazy summer afternoon, swimming down at the “ole swimming hole” and all the stories that go along.

All in all this was a nice 4 hour kayaking trip. This time included our 30 minute stop on a sandbar for lunch. The only thing that I saw about the river was the amount of floating beer/soft drink cans and bottles along with other trash. My guess is that most of this was due to the recent flooding and had not been cleaned up yet. Note to self; carry some trash bags next time to help in the effort to clean the river up.

Check out the following embedded link to view the video of our adventures: