Saturday, June 14, 2003
route: Warsaw Conservation Area to Hope Mills Conservation Area.
length: 1 day
offsite report: http://Karonne
The drive up under heavy black clouds was dispiriting, but as soon as we hit the water the sky cleared and the rest of the day was warm and bright. The section of the river from Warsaw Conservation Area to the village of Warsaw is especially scenic, with hills rising up from the river in waves. Near the village, there's a long shallow section where we did a lot of scraping and some wading. Wherever the river appears to split, keep left. It's mainly flatwater, but with a good current keeping us moving smartly along, and Class 1 rapids at regular intervals for a little added excitement.
We were a flotilla of 6 canoes and 2 kayaks. Although there were a few cottages along this route, we didn't encounter any other boats on the water. About halfway, there's a portage (L) around a dam. A vicious-looking dog and a "private property" sign held us off for a few minutes wondering what to do, but then the owner came out and gave us the thumbs-up to proceed. He was surprisingly pleasant. Further along, the dam at Hope Mills Conservation area was our take-out for the day, but this could be made into a weekend trip, camping overnight at Hope Mills and then continuing on down to the mouth of the river the next day.
It's a scenic route. The river is clean and good for swimming, with sandy bottom in some places and gravel in others. We saw fish, turtles, a ringed snake swimming (mauve and charcoal rings), crayfish, crabs, hawks, turkey vultures, blue heron, a deer crossing the river, and on the car shuttle we almost ran over a mother otter and her 2 babies trying to cross Highway 34. We screeched to a halt just in time and watched her carry one pup to safety while the other followed behind. Too bad I didn't have my camera. We didn't have time to explore the Warsaw Caves, but on a weekend trip that could be worked in. Next time!