Geezer and I paddled on Thursday (Jan. 22) from Island Creek Rd to the little park in Castle Hayne just beyond I40 on the Cape Fear, a distance of roughly 9 miles as traced out on Google Earth. It started off pretty cold, with an ice crust in several spots where there wasn't much current, but warmed up reasonably well by mid-day. Wind got pretty stiff on the river for a bit, but backed off toward the end of the paddle. I'd say we were about 4 hours on the water with a 20 minute lunch break on limestone riverbank just above the old cement plant that Titan Cement has proposed restarting operations. We checked a couple of little side creeks, and on one found a great camping spot; worth an overnight trip this spring perhaps. We didn't see much wildlife at all, but it was a pretty little paddle anyway. At the end we passed under I40, which was interesting because I've driven over that part of the river so many times. I think paddling through the ice was my favorite part, just because of the novelty of it. It was thin enough that bow and paddle both sliced right through. If you rock your hips to make a little wake it makes a crazy crackling/pinging noise as the little waves move away from you. Once again I'm grateful to Mike for his wealth of knowledge about local water and paddling, among other things. I really enjoy our conversations. Hoping for a break in the rain tomorrow to get a Sunday trip in, but I'm not gonna hold my breath. I've got to do a little review of my new paddling jacket. It's keeping me warm and dry. Cheers.
If you look closely, you can see the crust of ice on the water.