Saturday, June 22, 2013

Paddling the Five Fingers Area on the Neuse and Eno Rivers!

Location: Five Fingers Area on Neuse and Eno Rivers, Durham, NC Temperature: 73F Wind: Light Conditions: Cloudy 

Early Saturday morning held the promise of a great paddling adventure with overcast skies, low temperatures, and humidity. Rachel was visiting her Mom, so it was time for me and my yellow Aquafusion Liberty 13 kayak to get re-acquainted!  ;-)  I decided to explore the Fiver Fingers area of the Neuse and Eno Rivers, so named because the water inlets have the appearance of an outstretched hand from overhead. Click on the photos to enlarge.   

Paddling the Eno River prior to reaching the Fiver Fingers area. The water levels were slightly high, with no current and little wind. Excellent paddling conditions. 

As I entered the channel into the Five Fingers Area, I heard voices and spotted this couple in an Old Town canoe. They were bird watching and enjoying the early morning stillness.

An archway, formed of tree branches, provided an leafy entrance to one of the finger inlets.

I spotted this bright blue geo cache box, hanging from a tree branch, courtesy of my buddies at Frog Hollow Outdoors Paddlesports, Hiking, Camping,and Adventure Services. When I returned to the Eno River boat ramp, I saw several Frog Hollow employees unloading many canoes from their company van and trailer. The crew informed me that a wedding party of 60 persons was going to put in at 12 noon and paddle the Eno River! The geo cache boxes, like the one I had discovered, had been put out earlier for the wedding party to find. Wow! That's a lot of folks! Glad I was off the river before that crowd got in! 

Yes! I see you. A heron keeps a close eye on a small yellow kayak closing in on its perch.

A cocooned tree branch. The leaves will serve as food when the caterpillars hatch,

Power line towers, that carry electricity for the Durham region,  march off into the distance.

Much of the Five Fingers Area is swampy with thick growth and narrow water passages.

I was excited when I spotted this baby fawn as it swam across the Eno River. Hopefully, it will get reunited with its family. I did not see any other deer on the river banks

I am not able to identify these white spores. Maybe a Durhamblogger reader can provide us with the correct identification?

The next two close up photos are Trumpet Creeper, or also know as the "cow itch vine" or "hummingbird vine."

More Trumpet Creeper.

Fantastic paddle in the Five Fingers Area this Saturday morning! It was cool, overcast, and low humidity with only a handful of folks about on the water at this early hour. Rachel and I need to return together to Five Fingers Area for another look soon!

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Paddling the Catawba River on Father's Day!

  Location: Catawba River, Charlotte, NC Temperature: 85F Wind: Light Conditions: Sunny, and hot 

Over Father's Day weekend, Rachel and I went to visit our oldest son John who lives in Charlotte, NC. So, what visit to Charlotte would not be complete without a day spent at the U.S. National White Water Center! White water kayaking and rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, zip lines, and flat water kayaking on the Catawba River, this place has it all! The U.S. Olympic Team also trains here. Our first stop, once we secured our day pass, was to get in some flat water kayaking on the Catawba River! Click on the photos to enlarge.

 Yours truly, Mike, the Durhamblogger in good old number #156 - a Perception Tribe 9'.5" sit on top  kayak, cruising along the Catawba River. A large marina is in the back ground.

Our oldest son John trying out a stand up paddle (SUP) board for the first time. It took a while for him to get the "feel" of it - especially where to plant his feet. But, after a few shaky minutes, John was paddling like a pro! 

Father and son paddling together. A fitting picture for Father's Day.

Rachel, in her own trusty number 48 Perception Tribe.

Our flotilla rounded Sadler Island and discovered this cut through channel. The poles hanging from wires are slalom poles, used for training in white water kayaking slalom events.

Spotted large turtle pairs sunning themselves on dead tree trunks.

The cut through the island narrowed and got shallow rapidly.

John had to take an unorthodox SUP position to squeeze under the tree limbs and vines!

It was amazing to think that a busy marina and Catawba River boat traffic were only a few hundred yards from this tranquil paddling spot!

Rachel, looking "Kool" in her shades!

The huge kayak flotilla fleet, available for folks who chose to kayak the Catawba River, while visiting the U.S. White Water Center.

We had a wonderful weekend visiting with our oldest son and celebrating Father's Day together! Paddling, and being with family, made for a memorable time! Looking forward to returning to the Catawba River! 

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

A hot and humid paddle on the Neuse River!

   Location: Neuse River, Durham, NC Temperature: 85F Wind: Light Conditions: Sunny, hot and 85% humidity

Heavy rains and flash flood warnings for the Raleigh-Durham area led up to the weekend. It rained and stormed on Saturday. Sunday afternoon proved to be hot and humid. It also proved to be the only opportunity for Rachel and I to get in a paddle. We went for it! We decided to head down the Neuse River via the Eno River. (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

The Neuse River was 3 feet over its banks and in flood state. But, the current was not running rapidly and made for a good paddle. Also, because of the numerous floating debris in the river, no fishermen in their powered watercraft ventured out. Except for a couple of folks canoeing, we had the Neuse River to ourselves!

Rachel in her customary front seat. Note the muddy and high water levels of the Neuse River.

It was an extremely hot and sticky day. Humidity was 85%. Numerous clouds were building throughout our paddle and there was a threat of thunderstorms later in the day. We kept an eye to the sky during our paddle.

An osprey nest perched high on a power line tower.

On previous paddles, this nest appeared empty. This time, we were greeted with two little osprey heads peeking out over the nest! Click on the photo to enlarge.

Our paddle was mostly about getting some exercise and an excuse to get out on the water. The time of day and the hot, and humid conditions meant Rachel and I did not see much wild life during our paddle on the Neuse River. But, there's always a next time! Stay safe out there and remember to take life one stroke at a time!

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Gear Review: Kayak Comparison Tool by FindTheBest

Gear Reviewed:  Kayak Comparison Tool by FindTheBest

  Five out of five kayaks rating

Net: A free, versatile, intuitive, and feature-rich kayak comparison tool with multiple data filters and sorting options. It includes detailed kayak descriptions, reviews, and retailer prices.

Price: Free

Manufacturer: FindTheBest

Pros: Free. 7 filters to apply to search results. Detailed kayak model descriptions. Ability to sort search columns and compare selected kayak models side-by-side. Links to retailers and manufacturers.

Cons: None.

Details: Katie, from FindTheBest, introduced me to their kayak comparison tool and asked me to evaluate it for myself and my readers. I was happy to oblige! And boy, am I glad I took their kayak comparison tool for a "test paddle!"  ;-)

This tool is awesome! Users have the ability to search for kayak models using 7 filters, 3 sortable columns, comparison of selected kayaks side-by-side, price comparisons, find retailers and manufacturer Websites, and more! And the best part of this tool, is it is free!

Mike, the Durhamblogger, awards this kayak comparison tool 5 out of 5 kayaks - the highest  rating! This tool is an outstanding comparison aid for all persons - whether you are a novice paddler looking for a first boat or a veteran wanting to outfit your growing flotilla with another kayak!

Users have up to 7 filters to apply to their search results. In this example, I was searching for a (1.) recreational, (2.) Sit-Inside, (3.) One Person, (4.) Kayak weight 13 - 65 pounds, (5.) Kayak length 130 - 144 inches, (6.) Kayak weight capacity 80 - 300 pounds, and (7.) Kayak price $100 - $800 USD.

Search result columns; Manufacturer and model, price, weight, and length may be sorted. So, for example, you could sort your results; from lowest price to highest, lightest weight to heaviest, or shortest length to longest.

Once you have search results, you can also click on the "Compare Now" box and...

... just compare those selected kayak models side-by-side. Good stuff!

I urge all my readers to take a look at this great kayak selection tool from FindTheBest... and start "finding" "the best" kayak for you today!

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