Team Engleberts Kayaks From The Mountains to The Sea - Week 1
Preface: Welcome everyone! We encourage and welcome you all to follow us on our journey! We will begin in Ferguson, NC, a few miles before Kerr Scott Reservoir in Wilkesboro, NC. Those who have done this journey before us have begun this trip in Wilkesboro, NC. Most notably at the spillway canoe launch.
We chose to begin our trip several miles upstream for a couple of reasons. First and foremost we scouted the Yadkin river to find the earliest navigable point by kayak and we feel that the Ferguson NC launch point is the most viable option for that. The reasoning for this is we would like to kayak the entirety of the Yadkin river and all that it has to offer (We might as well get the entire experience even if it means traveling an extra half day). Secondly, We want to do what no one has done before. All who have gone before us have begun in Wilkesboro (a fantastic starting point), but no one had begun this grand journey further upstream. Lastly, beginning in Ferguson means an extra portage. This is a major setback for us, however, we feel it necessary.
There are eight major portages along our journey. These are grueling stops where we must transport our kayaks and all of our gear around dams (sometimes over a mile) by carrying them. It seems silly to us to do seven of these intense milestones but to leave out our own homefront. By including all eight major portages of this journey, we bring in the holistic experience of the modern day Yadkin river journey (I say modern because at one time, there were no dams and therefore no portages).
Our goal is to be the fastest to ever complete this journey (despite having an extra portage, lake and a few extra miles) and our goal time is 14 days. Please follow along and take part in our epic adventure! Not only is this adventure for our love of the great outdoors but also to encourage our community to get outside and enjoy the life that we have been given.
Pulled in for the night, just in time to beat the rain. It started sprinkling just as we began to set up camp. We made great progress today given the late start. Portaged the great Kerr Scott Reservoir dam and ate some delicious Burger King. Certainly a workout but excited to be on this great journey. The weather has been fantastic thus far with the exception of the early stop due to rain. Although it looks to be chilly in the coming days, we are eager to make great progress along the way! Thanks for following the journey, folks!
Animals spotted: herons, ducks, geese, squirrels, turtles, carp, little river fish. Friendly fishermen.
Temp: Hi 65 Low 37 Cloudy with Showers
Overnight Camp: Blairs Island Wilkesboro, NC
Good morning, great morning! Chilly here on the river, but what a way to wake up with some fresh coffee! Estimated time of departure: 7:30.
Pulled into Elkin today around 1:30 and ate at Angry Troll Brewery. Pulled into our campsite around 4:30, we went a rough total of 28 miles today taking advantage of the flow of the river and no lakes! Currently enjoying the warm fire with our fishing rods cast out. It'll get down to the mid 20s tonight so we are taking plenty of extra precautions to stay warm.
Highlight of the day: A family of four river otters swam ahead of us, as we neared them, all but one knew to stay under water as we passed by them. One of them popped right up next to Jace's kayak and quickly realized we were next to him and swam back underwater. It was a very cool experience to see natural river otters so close up and personal. Really enjoying the great beauty nature has to offer.
Animals spotted today (not previously mentioned): River otters, deer
Temp: Hi 48 Low 24 Sunny
Overnight Camp: Crutchfield, NC
An awesome day yakin' the Yadkin! Left camp at 8:33, a late start because it was very cold this morning (still upper 20s when we woke up). Our camp was just past the Mitchell River, and we put in another nice 28 miles. It was a very scenic and exciting paddle, with the coolest part being pilot mountain. The pictures don't do it justice, it was rather majestic in all its glory, as seen from the river.
We made it into Siloam around 12:30 and ate some great cheeseburgers at Shorty's Country Grill, who also had friendly staff. The pictures along the wall depict the old ferry at Siloam, used until the bridge was built. Also, you can see where the river flooded to the top of the bridge once. For a reference of how insane that is, just Google the Siloam bridge, it is extremely tall.
We trucked through the shoals (they are extremely shallow and rocky) only getting stuck a couple of times and only getting a little wet. We pulled into camp about 5:00 and much to our delight, we have a view of the other side of pilot mountain, seen in the photos below. We're very excited to be keeping a solid pace and making good time. We're in for another chilly night (my fingers aren't moving too well as I type this, time to get the gloves back on) but we're very excited to see 60 degrees tomorrow!
Animals seen (not mentioned before): goats and sheep
Temp: Hi 49 Low 25 Sunny
Overnight Camp: Donnaha, NC
Exciting again, got on the river around 7:30, pulled off about 5 and put in another solid 25 miles. We had an early portage around a small dam, pictured below. We passed the old 421 bridge, the current 421 bridge and the I-40 bridge which were all very cool, seeing as those are landmarks we are familiar with.
Early in the morning while it was still cold we saw a lone deer swim across the river (crazy to think he would do that in 40 degree weather, the water was up to his head).
We pulled into Clemmons and ate at Monte De Rey Mexican restaurant where we had fantastic ACP and some large mugs of Dos Equis, (wow, did that hit the spot!). We also made a quick stop at Harris Teeter for water and granola bars.
Later we made it to Idols dam, which has some amazing history behind it! Apparently it was backed by Thomas Edison! I've attached the link below for those of you who care to learn more about it, it truly is a wonderful piece of history for the Winston-Salem area.
Overall the trip is going great! We had some time to fish this evening and came up with a nice catfish! We plan to have an early start and make some serious time tomorrow before ice storm and bad weather comes our way on Tuesday.
Animals seen (not mentioned before): hawk, catfish
Temp: Hi 65 Low 28 Sunny
Overnight Camp: Clemmons, NC
On the river by 7:15 ready for a huge day on the water knowing this would be our last true stretch of the Yadkin river before the great lakes of the Yadkin as well as an arctic blast coming our way.
The river turns into the Great Pee Dee at the confluence of the Uwharrie River which we will experience after our penultimate portage. Personally I like the Yadkin River name and may refer to the river as such as the trip goes on.
We made it into Lexington by 1030 and grabbed a bbq sandwich to go from Tarheel Q, which was fantastic (great sweet tea and bbq as well as friendly people). This was definitely our hardest day on the river so far. We went a whopping 36 miles (we believe the furthest we've ever gone in a day) and fought mostly against a strong headwind.
We passed Boone's Cave (another point of interest rich in history, Google it up) and entered High Rock Lake, making it to the York Hill Acess at sunset. We discussed what to do in the coming days seeing as Tuesday had a 100% chance of rain and the following 2 nights would be 15-20 degrees. Rain is something that can be trucked through in the summer months, but is a no go in weather this cold. We ultimately made the decision to pull off for two days and resume Thursday morning. We can still become the fastest to complete this trip, despite the time off, however it will require a good bit of determination and grit as well as a pinch of good fortune.
We will be on the lake early tomorrow morning and begin the grueling section of portages that we eagerly await. We're excited to really truck through this next portion and continue with this amazing adventure.
Animals seen (not mentioned before): BALD EAGLE which was insanely cool seeing as this took place on Veteran's Day. Thank you to those of you have served and continue to serve. It was awesome to see that majestic bird fly over the river, a great dose of freedom in all of its glory. 'MERICA
Temp: Hi 56 Low 18 Rain/Cloudy/Partly Sunny
Overnight Camp: High Rock Lake
A late start at around 9:40, however we still traveled close to 20 miles and crossed the entirety of High Rock Lake and the High Rock Dam portage. We are currently camped out in Tuckertown Reservoir at an awesome campsite. We have begun our adventure into the Uhwarrie Mountains and the great lakes along them. We experienced a good bit of rain, however it was just light enough to truck through. The Portage trail was a rough one, but we made it through and are excited for plenty of portages to come!
Temp: Hi 49 Low 38 Rain/Cloudy/Windy
Overnight Camp: Tuckertown Reservoir
Another great day on the Yadkin, tomorrow we will begin the Pee Dee section. We portaged Tuckertown reservoir and Badin Lake Reservoir.
The day started out making great time, we had portaged Tuckertown and entered Badin Lake by 9:00. That is where things went south for a bit. Badin started off smooth in the opening water but as soon as the lake opened up, we were in for a surprise. 35 mph winds and (conservatively) 4 foot waves battered down on us throughout the rest of Badin. Make no mistake, this lake had become an ocean.
This was one of the most challenging events of our lives to be honest. There were times when the waves and wind pushed so hard we would paddle with everything we had just to stay stationary and not be pushed backwards or into the rocks. To add to the physical exertion of crossing this lake in less than ideal conditions, the waves had soaked our clothes, which is a "no bueno" in 40 degree weather.
Relief came over us as we pulled into the dam and physically exhausted, we changed our clothes and walked 2 miles into the town of Badin for some fantastic food and water. We ate at Tho's Pizza where we had hibachi chicken fit for kings.
We met a fantastic local resident who struck up a conversation with us. Along with kind words, he took it upon himself to provide us with an iphone charger and a box. Quite the blessing after a morning of struggles.
Shortly after, we headed to the town gas station where the kind lady (on her first day of work) opened up the back room for us to allow us access to a sink where we could fill our empty water jugs. Never has fresher water been consumed.
We trekked back and drank some Bang Energy drinks which proved to be extremely helpful in our next endeavor. We then portaged the Badin Dam also known as the Narrows.
It's sad that ALCOA lacks the ability to properly maintain their portage trails, however, I'm sure they have more important items on their priority list. The rough portage trail, which is at least a mile in length, can be seen in a couple of the pictures below. In one section, one must walk up a metal pipe, surrounded by holes in the ground. While strenuous to say the least, it was rewarding to finally complete this section.
We made it to Falls Reservoir where we found an awesome campsite and plan to make great time in the morning. We look forward to warmer weather and less waves and wind as we continue our journey.
Animals seen (not mentioned before): cat
Temp: Hi 49 Low 42 Large Waves/Cloudy/Windy with Gust to 40 mph/Small Craft Advisory
Overnight Camp: Falls Reservoir
You can continue to follow Team Engleberts trip from the mountains to the sea here.
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