Team Engleberts Kayaks From The Mountains to The Sea - Week 2
Another great day! The misfortune of yesterday has been made up for with the great fortune of today. We portaged Falls reservoir, which is the most dangerous portage. It is a rocky, thin trail on the side of a mountain, if you slip, you plummet roughly 50 feet down into the water or the dam. Fantastic.
Shortly after our portage, we came to the confluence of the Uwharrie River and the Yadkin, the official marker of the Great Pee Dee River. The wind became our friend today. It must've felt bad about the way it treated us yesterday. We had smooth rolling waves working in our favor throughout Lake Tillery. In the beginning we spotted a dog who seemed eager to join us in our journey, as determined by his howls while he went knee deep in the water. Sadly we could not bring him along.
We had lunch at Lilly's Bridge Marina, which had fantastic food. The best burger I've had since I can remember, the Steakhouse Burger. The staff was extremely friendly and excited to hear of our journey. We then crossed the lake to begin our penultimate portage. This portage is also rather unkempt however it proved to be quick work for us as we have a good bit of experience in the field of moving kayaks. Photos of the "ramp" of the portage can be seen below, this is the shore lines with sticks and overgrown plants. We trucked through briars and branches meeting a fence and excitedly finished this stretch.
We saw many fisherman lining the banks below the dam, a sign that there are abundant fish or maybe an abundance of folks who enjoy nature. This section was rocky and we scraped our kayaks several times on the bottom of the river. Just before we pulled into camp, a plane flew right over us. Quite the daring pilot as he flew rather close to the dam, the bridges and dipped below the tree line on the river, the photos below depict his plane as he was flying away, certainly a nice experience.
We pulled off into a nice pine forest campsite on a high bank and it is different, but welcomed, to not have the wind howling through the forest. The night is still and for the first time on our journey we can hear crickets chirping. In addition to the fine sound of crickets there are many insects of all varieties, most notably spiders, something we have also seldom come across until now. We eagerly await the morning where we plan to take on our final portage and make it to Rockingham.
Temp: Hi 49 Low 41 Sunny
Overnight Camp: Somewhere near Ansonville
On the river by 7:50. Within 5 minutes it began to rain. We trucked for an hour and a half before finding refuge. We pulled into the Pee Dee Wildlife Preserve and set up our tent to take shelter from the rain. We left there around 1:30 when the rain had stopped.
Despite the less than ideal setback during the day we still managed to put in roughly 18 miles. It was a desolate and lonely mileage day, there was only one bridge. We spoke with a wildlife refuge ranger and waved to a fisherman. This was our only human contact of the day. We are camped at the very beginning of Blewett Falls Lake and are very excited to reach Rockingham and hopefully Cheraw as well in the morning. This was probably the most uneventful day of our journey and there are no photos.
Sometimes the river is all work and no play. Also, after debating whether it was a low or a high we decided that heating up a 4 day old bojangles sausage biscuit over an empty chili can and then splitting it in half for dinner was a low. These are the hallmarks of survival when all supplies run low. It wasn't the best biscuit, but calories it indeed provided.
Temp: Hi 48 Low 42 Cloudy / Rain
Overnight Camp: Big Island, Blewett Falls Lake
Eventful and exciting! We began our journey from the beginning of Blewitt Falls Lake. The fog this morning was so dense, we could hardly see a quarter mile (if that) in front of us. For this reason, we followed the bank of the lake and still managed decent time. We made quick work of the lake and the portage, which I would add, is the most reasonable of the portages. The reason for this is they actually have a trail, well marked and well kept and almost as straight to the point as they can be. Props to them for being reasonable humans!
We portaged by 10:00. We then went 3 ish short miles into Rockingham where we ate lunch at Scotty's Bait and Tackle. A fine place with even better people. We ate with a group of hunters who gave us great advice and advised of the area. The owner graciously offered to fill our empty water jugs, the hunters jokingly asked if these jugs were for moonshine. They were also fantastically familiar with Wilkesboro, most notably of its Nascar past. The owner of the store told us stories of cyclists who have traveled from Michigan. He told of another story of cyclists who started in NC and were going to California to meet two girls. He joked those women must have been some "humdingers." We ate fantastic cheeseburgers, gathered snacks and with wishes of good luck, were on our way.
We knew Cheraw was a haul from Rockingham, easy with a whole day, however, we left around 12:15, leaving us in a pinch realizing that alligators breed all the way up to Cheraw and have been found in Rockingham. They are most active from dusk to dawn meaning we need to be careful with our start and finish times. Dusk occurs roughly at 5:00. We paddled hard over the next 4 hours with only 2, 5 minute breaks. We knew we wanted to hit Cheraw where food and water awaited.
Around 4:30 we saw the Cheraw bridge. Never have we been more excited to see concrete hovering over water. We shouted for joy, realizing we had made insane mileage and our efforts had paid off (we estimate conservatively, as always, it was about 25 miles from Rockingham to Cheraw). We went a little past the bridge until we reached the Riverside Park of Cheraw. From there we hid our kayaks and walked to the Inn Cheraw were we checked in for the night.
We walked to Leo's Pizza and Wings where we had amazing pizza and had the opportunity to chat with the owner, Paul, who had quite the story to tell himself, in addition to being a cool fellow.
With full bellies and a shower, we plan to stock up on canned food and gallons of water in the morning in preparation to finish our journey out. This should be our last stop for food/water as it seems the Great Pee Dee becomes desolate as our journey continues. We estimate a rough 33 miles for the day.
Expect the posts to be less consistent as it's tough to determine whether we will have internet on the remainder of our trip. All days are recorded though and may be posted at a later date. Expect less photos as well as we will turn our phones off during the day to conserve energy. We will keep you all as up to date as possible and as always, we are excited to experience the river and all it has to offer.
Animals seen (not mentioned before): Crayfish
Temp: Hi 54 Low 35 Dense Fog Advisory / Cloudy / Rain
Overnight Camp: Cheraw, SC
After a good nights sleep, we found our kayaks and went back into town to restock on supplies. We went into the local discount foods store, where we found ample amounts of canned food. We acquired cans, but they had little water. We asked where we could find more and a fine gentlemen offered to walk us to the nearest gas station. We gave him five dollars for his time as he mentioned needing "medication" for his aching back.
We gathered our water and food and after speaking with another local about alligators, fish and water levels, we began our next section of our South Carolina journey. We left Cheraw around 10:00. We had not expected much from South Carolina, but the natural beauty is unmatched, white sandy beaches, huge cliffs, amazing trees and clean water, it has been a blessing on this portion to say the least.
We set up camp on a huge beach under a starry night sky. The weather today was extremely pleasant, sunny and warm. This may be the best day of our journey so far in terms of natural beauty and pure excitement. No alligators have been spotted as of yet.
Animals seen (not mentioned before): A HUGE fish jumped out of the water next to our kayaks, a very cool sight to see. Otters have been mentioned before, but another was spotted as he swam and he eventually ran up the bank.
We ROUGHLY estimate 25 miles on the day, probably more, but we'll leave it at that.
Temp: Hi 62 Low 38 Sunny
Overnight Camp: Somewhere south of Society Hill, SC
Another great day on the river. It started off vastly colder than we expected. We experienced freezing temps this morning with frost covering everything. The weather said 40 degree low.
To make up for the ice cold morning we were blessed to see an otter playing in the sand on our beach, he was not afraid of us in the slightest and it was an amazing sight to see. By 10 everything had warmed up enough to feel good.
The rest of the day was beautiful and sunny. Clear blue skies and near 60 degrees. We put in a great day and estimate roughly 30 ish miles on the day.
We found another amazing beach which has great fish. We were able to build a great campfire and look forward to finishing out our journey.
Temp: Hi 62 Low 34 Sunny
Overnight Camp: Sandy Beach Near I-95 SC
Another fantastic day. Started just before the I-95 bridge after camping on another great beach. Start time around 7:50. We made into the town of Peedee around 11:00 and we had some mighty fine subway and grabbed some water. A very kind gentleman gave us $8 for lunch after seeing us walking along the highway.
Some rain came through and we had to wait under the bridge until about 1:50. Shortly after, we saw the first alligator of the journey. He was roughly 6 feet long. He was pleasant though and just sat on a log as we passed, he must've enjoyed our music.
We than had a long journey through a swamp. We paddled as hard as we could through there for 2 hours straight until we reached Dexter's Dock. The paddling was hard and we could hear Coach Murray yelling in the back of our heads, "you gotta go now!" Sure enough our effort paid off as we pulled into the dock just after 5.
We got a campsite at Dexter's Dock and it turned out to be a fantastic decision. We met some of the kindest southern folk we may have ever met, Slim Jim, Moses and Squirrel were their names. They were extremely knowledgeable on all of the fish in the area as well as the water levels, gators and just about anything we could've asked about. They mentioned that duck hunting season starts tomorrow, so that will be something we'll have to be mindful of, but otherwise, things look like smooth sailing from here.
More gators are expected as we continue south. We are excited to have met such fine folk and look forward to finishing out our journey in 2-3 days.
Animals seen (not mentioned before): ALLIGATOR
Temp: Hi 66 Low 40 Part Cloudy/Cloudy/Rain
Overnight Camp: Dexters Dock on The Pee Dee River. SC
We awoke to roosters crowing at the crack of dawn. We left Dexter's Dock and began our new day of adventure. Rain was in the forecast so we figured we could get several miles in before the predicted rainfall at 10:00. We pulled off at a boat ramp with a covered area just as it began to drizzle. Very lucky for us to have made it there just in time. We spoke with a couple of gentleman trying out there new boat and they wished us luck.
We waited for about an hour and half for the rain to pass and after eating some canned food, we were on our way. As we paddled, we saw a "stick" moving across the river and upon closer inspection found it to be a large snake. It was the first snake sighting of the journey. He was friendly though and kept his distance. We pulled into camp and enjoyed some more canned food, the best treat being a can of peaches.
It is raining as I write this and we hope that this rain will add some flow to the river. The levels are extremely low right now and as such the flow is down. We are finally in the homestretch and estimate finishing tomorrow evening or Monday midday. This will be flow and tide dependent, but we're very excited to have made it this far and to finally be so close! There are no photos for the day.
Animals seen (not mentioned before): SNAKE
Temp: Hi 67 Low 53 Cloudy/Rain
Overnight Camp: Waccamaw Wildlife Refuge, Near Woodburry, SC on The Pee Dee River
Another great day on the river. We woke up to dozens upon dozens of gunshots. Duck hunting season. We left our campsite bright and early and were on the water by 7:05.
We had a good day of paddling and made nice progress. As we passed the confluence of the Little Pee Dee river and the Great Pee Dee River you could see where the waters touched and there was a fine divide. The little pee dee is a black river, it looks like tea, because of tannins in the water. The great peedee had become a brownish color and it was amazing to see the contrast between the two rivers, literally side by side.
This is where the cypress trees became spectacular. There were many of them, with hues of orange, yellow and red, draped with spanish moss. A very cool sight to see. The nature out here is an amazing sight to see so up close. We are close to our end goal and project to finish around 12:30-2:30 tomorrow depending on how well the tides work in our favor.
Temp: Hi 63 Low 32 Partly Cloudy
Overnight Camp: Waccamaw Wildlife Refuge on The Pee Dee River
The big one. Sometime in the night around 4:00 am we both awoke to growling. We both clapped and heard nothing after. After listening to sounds online, we believe it was a bobcat or a cougar. Fun.
We later awoke at 6:30 to be on the water by 7:15. The tide was still rolling in and we paddled against the current until around 11:30. We saw an immense amount of beauty and insanely nice houses as we paddled through swamp land.
We believed smooth sailing was ahead, but nothing is ever truly easy when on this journey. Around 12:30 the wind began to blow and the waves began to push against us. While these were decent sized waves, they were milk toast compared to Badin Lake's huge waves. Nonetheless, this provided for some decently hard paddling in order to finish out.
As we rounded the final turn we could see the bridge and the marina. This was still roughly a mile and a half away and we excitedly paddled through and talked about how good it felt to be done. We saw mamma Carroll waving from the bridge and waved back. Eventually we made it to the bridge and shortly after, we pulled into the Georgetown Marina, the official endpoint of this fantastic journey. 2:31 PM.
A fine gentleman from the Georgetown newspaper was there to interview us which was very cool. We then unpacked our kayaks and enjoyed Yadkin River Lagers which had been in our kayaks from the very beginning, only to be consumed if we crossed the finish line. We had some excellent Pizza Hut for dinner and the food was perfect. We ate nothing but two granola bars prior to that as we had depleted all of our snack supplies the prior day.
There will be a recap of the entirety of the journey tomorrow, but for now we are happy to be done and sleeping in warm beds.
We believe we hold the unofficial record for the completion of this journey. 16 river days, 19 days of elapsed time from start to finish. Also, we believe we have done the longest journey, seeing as we started in Ferguson, NC rather than Wilkesboro, NC.
It is an amazing sense of accomplishment to be finished and we thank all who have followed along as well as all of those who were kind to us along the way. Without the kindness of strangers, this trip is not possible. Without God's help, this trip is not possible. We know, very well, that He was with us every bit of the way.
Temp: Hi 65 Low 34 Sunny
Finish: Georgetown Marina, SC
It's All Gravy Baby.
You can follow Team Engleberts trip from the Mountain to the Sea in chronological order by reading Week 1 here.
In The Press
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