A Little Memorial Day paddle trip.
My brother was in NC for work so I flew down to spend the weekend. The plan was to rent a car in Charlotte and drive West 2 hours to Asheville. From there have a canoe outfitter take us about 50 miles up river and spend three days canoeing back into town.
Here is the basic Itinerary Download North Carolina Paddle Trip
I arrived on Wed night. It was a rough trip as weather over Charlotte was bad. We had to circle for an hour through turbulence before the airport reopened and we were able to land. My brother picked me up in a minivan and we headed over to Asheville.
Asheville is the epicenter of breweries in the USA. They are also supposed to be pretty solid on the BBQ front. After watching some food specials on the area to prepare we selected Buxton Hall BBQ as the dinner spot. It was pretty average or even below average on the pork. I liked the layout and atmosphere though.
We hit a couple of the breweries on the way back to the Hampton Inn outside of town. We stopped at Wicked Weed which was famous in the area, but had come under a lot of pressure of late since they sold out to a major label.
The next day we stopped at a grocery store to get some throw-away coolers and headed to the outfitter. Our driver was your typical river guide, rough looking like he had not been to bed since night before. I bought a river map and he dropped us of near the town of Brevard with our canoe.
There was no one else on the river due to it running at 5K CFS and the limit for commercial trips was 3.5k CFS. He told us to imagine 5K basketballs running through an area of the river in one second. That is how fast it was moving. He seemed overly concerned about our preparation. He called us "minimalists" because of our limited gear. My brother had a hotel bag from India full of clothes. I at least had some dry bags but neither of us opted for sleeping bags or cold weather clothes.
The guide probably knew we were in trouble when we got in the canoe the wrong way to start. We finally were off and a sprinkling of rain began. My brother thought the guide was overdoing it, "It was a canoe trip, were are not kayaking class V rapids"
We came around a corner and saw a submerged log across the river. We casually tried to get around it but before we could get to the left of it we hit it sideways. In the business this is known as a "Strainer" It lets water through but people and equipment get pinned under and inbetween the branches. When we hit the log sideways or canoe tipped away from it and started to fill with water and before we knew it the canoe went under and completely flipped under the log and was trapped. We swam out ok. It was pretty funny and a little scary at the same time. I could not stop laughing but we had to spend the next 45 min trying to get the canoe out. Fortunately we strapped most of our gear to the crossbeams of the canoe and they were intact while submerged for that time. I did lose the map, a hat and a water bag. My brothers bags were ok, but they were just cotton laundry bags so all his stuff was soaked
I was fortunate to steal a milk jog from the hotel that morning to fashion into a bailer. We eventually got back on the water and about a mile down river stopped at a take out to walk to local brewery,
My brother hung up everything on local overpass as we walked in for lunch
We stopped at Oskar brewery.
They did not have food so we walked another mile or so into Brevard for lunch. My brother was contemplating stopping right there and getting hotel room and meeting me back in Asheville in a couple days but he soldiered on.
We got back in canoe and made it to campsite for the night
My brother had bought some dry clothes at brewery but it was still a cold night. He stayed up late trying to burn the whole forest down to stay warm and ended up having to stand in the embers to keep his feet warm. I was chilly under my tarp and even had to break out the emergency blanket I packed. He was not to happy when I emerged in the morning wearing wool socks but I really did not have any spare clothes to offer.
We decided instead of spending the next 2 days on the river doing 20 miles each day we would just do 40 miles today and get back to Asheville early.
We did stop for lunch at Sierra Nevada Brewery. There was no way to get inot the brewery from the river so we had to jump a fence which caused us to get pretty cut up from the thorn bushes
On the way out of the brewery we found a gate which we assumed was locked and hopped over there with some beer, and as I landed on the ground the gate swung open. pretty classic stuff
We were back on the river with my new brewery hat to replace the one I lost
We pushed on and made the 40 miles and returned the canoe around 830 pm
We checked into a pretty fancy Hilton in downtown and had some drink on the roof along with a game of scrabble (I won)
The next day we attended the annual beer festival and walked the city. It was a nice place and not completely overrun with hipsters like I thought it would be.
The next day it was back to Charlotte for the flight out
Until Next Time,