State 32 of 50: North Carolina – Yadkin River

Sometimes it all comes together at the last minute
Date Paddled: November 19, 2018
Nearest City: Ferguson
Put-In: Grandin Road Bridge
Take-Out: River Access Lenoir
Duration: 2 hours
River Miles: 5.5
Shuttle: David – kindness of strangers
Weather: mostly cloudy
Difficulty: I, I+
Cfs: no gauge 

The plan had been for a long paddle on the South Toe River, but Giardia (see previous entry) had changed all that. The South Toe was a long paddle, remote with no bail out point. So we hit my favorite research sites: American Whitewater, Paddling.Com, Riverfacts, , AllAboutRivers, and USA Wild and Scenic Rivers.

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We’re often asked about how we choose rivers. It’s actually a fairly complex process since different sites have different strengths. I usually start with American Whitewater, an excellent site with detailed information about rapids, what’s flowing (including too low/high rates), maps, shares from other paddlers, etc. Other sites like Riverfacts, do a much better job of providing searches by location. This is especially handy when we know we will definitely be in a certain area like we did in NC, SC, and GA. At some point Google maps usually comes out to double check map accuracy, create driving routes, or to zoom in on individual rapids in satellite mode. Sometimes other sites prove more interesting  like Paddling that has many “Trips from the Community” write-ups, and it’s always great to check if we can snag a Wild and Scenic River. 

Once we have a river, there is still no assurance that there will be sufficient water when we get there. This was the case in NC. We had driven along the Yadkin on the way in noting that it looked like a fairly easy paddle. Off we went to scout our first choice river, finding it too low as well as with tricky rapids and a low bridge to portage. We headed back out to the Yadkin and used the satellite view on Goggle to help.  We got local info at a gas station as well as a free shuttle and were on the water by 3 PM, reasonably sure that all would be well.DSCN7501We meandered through sycamores, oaks, and dense shrubs in their late fall attire. Passing a grove of bamboo – probably planted to stabilize bank erosion, I was impressed with the avian life that filled the high pole-like grove and was hopeful that this invasive was creating some positives for the local fauna.
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With the occasional ledge drop and steady current, we paddled 5.5 miles in two hours. I was pretty tired afterward but felt some measure of confidence that soon I’d be strong.  The next day would be a driving day so I could rest up and take my precious meds- the Giardia killing manna from heaven.

We paddled into the sunset with bright dreams of kayaking six more southern states in the next two weeks…IMG_7106