Kayaking Goose Creek State Park Return to Forever

paddling map of Goose Creek State Park

Occasionally, planning a group outing can take weeks of preparation and planning. Not this one. Instead it seemed to create a life of its own, a simple twist of fate and the next thing we know, we were venturing out on a spring passage that would return us to forever.

Not really but here’s how it all got started. Last month, I ran into one of my local paddling partners at the Edenton Farmers Market. I greeted him with, “Let’s plan another paddling trip.” Allan encouragingly agreed, “Send me some ideas and dates and I’ll take it from there.” Three weeks later, five paddlers were caravanning down NC-45 heading to Goose Creek State Park for a spring sampling of Pamlico paddling.

Telltales & Tall Tales

The park’s boat ramp at Dinah’s Landing is located approximately 12 miles east of Washington, NC in Beaufort County. We managed to load five kayaks onto two vehicles. I was riding shotgun and my job was navigator since I was the only one in our group who has paddled the Goose Creek Canoe Trail and the surrounding waters along the Pamlico River. Allan was driving and my neighbor, Mary was squeezed in the back seat between the gear. Manú and Maridale were right behind us in their car towing a nifty trailer and two spiffy kayaks. Both of them are experienced kayakers who gained most of their expertise on the Chesapeake Bay.

Our shuttle group caught up with each other while we traveled down the rural landscape. We randomly started sharing paddling “misadventures” over the years. Allan told us about a twenty-mile paddling trip on the Roanoke River. He and a friend had concocted the last minute trip over a few beers the night before. They got up the next morning and spotted a vehicle at the take out near the mouth of the river then drove to the put-in at Windsor, NC. The pair shared a full-day, full sun paddle that seemed like it would take forever. So this is the portion of the story that relates to “forever.”

I mentioned my all-star launch on the floating boat ramp along the Scuppernong River. In front of a large group of tourists, I embarrassed myself and my wife as the stern of my kayak got hung up on the defective ramp causing me to initiate a wet exit into the murky water. My wife got a big laugh out of it!

Both Allan and Mary recalled their Dismal Swamp/Lake Drummond group outing and the infamous cypress tree that was supposed to serve as their bearing point to reenter the canal. The problem they encountered after six hours on the water was that every cypress tree on Lake Drummond looked identical to their telltale landmark. Oops! This is second reference to the subtitle “forever.”

Goose Creek Canoe Trail

Wind on the Water, Sunshine on our Backs

We arrived at Dynah’s landing and scouted out an area to launch our kayaks. A grassy area parallel to the sandy shoreline provided our staging area as we off loaded the boats, gear, food and drink. A light breeze signaled an opportunity to paddle out to the expansive Pamlico River before the forecasted wind and chop increased. So we excitedly launched our boats, casually paddled out of the Upper Goose Creek to the river. A pod of dolphins immediately greeted us and appeared to escort our group along the southern shores of Goose Creek State Park. We paddled approximately a mile east taking in the views of the river and the narrow strip of marshland that separated Flatty Creek from the Pamlico River.

As we turned around and reversed our direction, I was surprised how the morning light, now behind us, accentuated the surface texture of the water. Each little ripple seemed to appear in high-definition in contrast to the land and sky. Just a few minutes earlier, the glare directly into the sun had dulled the light and exposed the thick moisture in the air. Now we all had brighter skies and a slight headwind to negotiate until we dipped back into the protected waters of Goose Creek. Without acknowledging the fact, we all knew we had made a good decision to paddle the river section of our trip first thing in the morning before the wind picked up.

As we entered the mouth of Upper Goose Creek, we saw a few pleasure boats and anglers trolling the shallow water near Flatty Creek. We hugged the eastern shore and continued along a remnant Cypress grove and exposed stumps closer to land. An hour into our trip, we paddle into the entrance of Flatty Creek. The thin strip of land we had seen while paddling the river provided a nice buffer against the wind. The stillness of the water against the Carolina blue sky was magnificent. Maridale noticed a large bird of prey perched in the top of a snag on the northern bank. Manú pulled out his binoculars and quickly confirmed the Bald Eagle.

Edenton Paddlers enjoying Flatty Creek

I had observed a pair of eagles in the spring during a weekend camping and paddle boarding trip so it was refreshing to share a similar experience with my paddling pals. We soaked in the stillness and slowly drifted with the light wind through the narrowing creek. The water level was higher since the last time I paddled in the area so we were able to explore much deeper into Flatty Creek. I pointed out the 351-acre natural area of the park that is designated a National Natural Landmark. According to the National Park Service, which administers the program, the National Natural Landmarks Program recognizes and encourages the conservation of sites that contain outstanding biological and geological resources.

Only 13 properties in North Carolina share this unique designation. The .3-mile Flatty Creek Trail near the park’s campground provides hikers with an up-front and personal experience of the native flora and fauna of the park. A boardwalk and overlook leads visitors to an outstanding view of Flatty Creek.

If the Pamlico provided the “welcome” this morning, Flatty Creek felt like she kindly said, “Y’all come back” as we reluctantly parted her sanctuary and returned to the freshening southwest winds blowing across the upper reaches of Goose Creek.

Kayaks beached at Goose Creek State Park

We paddled around the bluff on the west side of the campground and beached our boats in a small protective cove. The group enjoyed a lunch-with-a-view from the two park benches on the bluff that are located at the western terminus of the 2.5-mile Goose Creek Trail. The hiking trail traverses the park’s southern shoreline and runs from the campground to the beach and swimming area.

From our lofted dining point, we ate a light lunch as we watched cruising boats and gliding kayaks on Goose Creek. After lunch we would continue our adventure along the Goose Creek Canoe Trail.

Each member of our party seemed eager to begin the afternoon session of our paddling excursion so we packed up our lunch, returned to the boats and one-by-one launched our crafts back into the water. A few of our party opted to utilize the campgrounds restrooms and take a sneak peek at the camping sites. I refilled my water bottles and chatted with a few boaters preparing to launch their SUP’s.

I’ve camped all four seasons at the park and I’ve shared the campground with sailors, boaters, paddlers, anglers and others who enjoy family camping.

Run the Same River Twice

The final leg of our trip seemed to be icing on the cake as we wittingly paddled the tranquil waters of Goose Creek. Manú took the unofficial lead toward the backwaters. We all seemed to be in awe of the splendid beauty of the natural landscape. A downed pine obstructed the passage along the stream’s most northern reach. But Manú carefully threaded the needle and led us all through a sneak route toward further adventures. We all followed one-by-one until we crossed over into a section of creek that seemed almost primordial. Rays of sunlight penetrated through the canopy of cypress, gum and cedar to highlight blossoms of swamp rose and lizards tail. A stunning outcrop of florescent green sedge sprouted from a rotting stump. Each bend of the creek lured us further upstream.

paddlers on Goose Creek

The lush vegetation slowly crowded in on us obstructing the breeze and trapping the moisture in the air. We decided to depart the dense wetland and return to the refreshing breeze on the open water. Once on the main channel of Goose Creek, we continued along the trail until the creek became impassible.

The final stretch to the landing became a reflective and joyous retreat. We combined three waterways to complete the 7-mile round trip and in turn the streams connected us to the region of the Pamlico. We’ll return that’s for sure but for now, we all realize that we shared a special day paddling the tributaries of the Tar-Pamlico River Basin.

 

journey notes to road tripGoose Creek State Park is located approximately 12 miles east of Washington, NC in Beaufort County on the north side of the Pamlico River. The peninsula-shaped property encompasses 1,672 acres and a variety of coastal plain habitats – from extensive wetlands along the rivers and creeks to cypress swamps and saltwater marshes.

2190 Camp Leach Rd, Washington, NC 27889; (252) 923-2191; goose.creek@ncparks.gov

Local Outfitter ~ Inner Banks Outfitters

Start or end your trip with a visit to Inner Banks Outfitters. Friendly, knowledgeable staff and full service paddling & cycling services. The shop offers kayak and paddle board rentals, paddling gear and accessories. Located on Runyon Creek near the City of Washington’s Havens Garden public boat ramp.

Inner Banks Outfitters

And while you’re there…

Stop by their neighbors at Blackwater Jacks Tiki Bar & Grill for some fine coastal seafood, a great selection of craft beers on draft, live music and monthly tiki parties!

Craft Beer Guide to the Albemarle Sound Breweries, Bottle Shops & Further Adventures

craftbeerguideWelcome to the 2017 Craft Beer Guide to the Albemarle Sound! The clever digital guide is perfect for the beer enthusiast charting a course to the region where land and water merge.  It is designed to help visitors and locals navigate their way through breweries, tap rooms, local bottle shops, growler filling stations and a few small-batch brew fests that seasonally land along our shores. We also squeezed in an introduction to seasonal selections that are specially brewed for the holidays and winter. By no means is this a “definitive” guide but one emerging and a work-in-progress. We’re simply trying to maintain pace with the exploding craft beer movement taking hold in our state. Stay tuned, keep in touch and let us know about regional craft beer news brewing in the region.

Currently, the Old North State claims more than 180 craft breweries. Here in the northeastern corner of the state, more and more craft breweries are popping up in the low country. As you travel around the region, you’re sure to gain a better appreciation of our regional microbreweries as you sample the eclectic styles of beer, meet the passionate brewers, go behind the scenes on a brewery tour and hear the wonderful stories that are connected to these creative enterprises.

We encourage our readers to learn more about the brewing process, discover the camaraderie of the craft beer community and maybe even take a few field notes next time you’re out test driving a flight of locally brewed beer. Hopefully, our guide will help point you in the right direction.

Happy Trails!                           cheerstocraftbeeralbemarlesound

Craft Beer News around the Sound

The Outer Banks Brewing Station is spreading holiday cheer one sip at a time with their Christmas Beer release this month – a Belgian Trappist style ale crafted with locally sourced pecans. Yum! They’re teaming up this year with the Rum Boys over at Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo, NC. OBBS is brewing the seasonal with “spent” pecans used to make the popular Kill Devil Hills Pecans and Honey Rum.

Just in time to welcome the cold weather, Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville released their Baltic Porter. A recent exploration of their website on the Our Beers menu described it as being “deep, rich and velvety soft with full blooded roasty character.” The brewers add, “This special brew rewards unhurried attention.” Sounds like good advice and the perfect beer to savor during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Also, a big shout out to the microbrewery for their award in the 5th Annual NC Brewers Cup held earlier this fall. The Duck-Rabbit Märzen won 2nd Place in the Commercial European Amber Lager Class. This year’s competition included 651 total entries, which included 477 commercial entries and 174 home-brew entries. The event is organized by the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild and also serves as a Beer Judge Certification Program.

 

 

Connecting Communities – Small batch brewers are “crafty” in their use of locally sourced ingredients. From barley, wheat, rye and hops to sorghum, pecans, figs, blackberries, sweet potatoes and persimmons. This plow-to-pint movement is cultivating “beer farms” that produce local ingredients for the craft beer & home brew industry.

From the Tar River to Currituck Sound

Weeping Radish Brewery, Butchery & Farm located in Grandy, NC always brings joy to the holidays with their seasonal (Fall & Winter) Christmas Bier. The Doppelbock (Double Bock) is traditionally stronger than the German-style bock beer but not necessarily twice the strength as the double bock might suggest. The hearty beer tends to be exceptionally malty but surprisingly, not too bitter. These extraordinary beers trace their roots back to the 17th century. According to Weeping Radish’s website, “A Bavarian specialty first brewed in Munich by the monks of St. Francis of Paula.” One interesting side note — the Doppelbock is craft brewed using NC grown hops and malt.

Tarboro Brewing Company recently brewed and kegged their first Imperial Stout, which they named Southern Solstice. Talk about good timing – just in time for the Historic Tarboro’s Annual Weekend Christmas Crawl held last week. Hmm, might be a good idea to ring in the New Year with the folks at TBC and listen to some live local music, make new friends and check out the seasonal stout!

For all you “fest heads” out there, hurry up and buy tickets now if you want attend our region’s first craft beer festival of 2017! Greenville, North Carolina will be hosting the Jolly Skull Beer & Wine Festival on January 21, 2017. The seventh annual event showcases more than 50 American craft microbreweries and wineries. Approximately 125 beers and wines will be featured. Click here for tickets and more info.

Craft Beer Guide to the Albemarle Sound including Bottle Shops

further craft beer adventures albemarle sound

craftbeerfieldnotesalbemarlesound

The Craft Beer Guide to the Albemarle Sound & Beyond!

Going Green in the Tar Heel State

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There appears to be an increasing trend of responsible travelers who consider the environment and sustainability when booking a trip, visiting a park or dining out at a local restaurant. Today it seems, “Going green is more than being cool, it is also smart!” From “green city” travel apps to eco-friendly lodging, more and more travelers, vendors, and travel organizations are choosing eco-friendly options. In May, Mandala Research and Sustainable Travel International released an 80+page report that surveyed nearly 3,000 travelers. Sixty-three percent of all travelers say they are much more likely to consider destinations where there is a strong effort to conserve and protect natural resources. Fortunately, the Tar Heel State offers a wealth of resources for the green-conscious traveler.

Businesses Strive toward a Green Standard

North Carolina’s GreenTravel Recognition Program is one of the most comprehensive in the nation. It was launched in 2011 becoming NC’s first statewide sustainable travel recognition program. Businesses that demonstrate a commitment to green tourism practices and achieve voluntary standards are eligible for recognition. These standards include compliance to regulatory rules and regulations, environmental protection policies, sustainability practices, waste reduction and recycling, energy management procedures and other guidelines.nc green travel initiativeGreen tourism operations include lodging, food service, attractions, museums, parks, vacation rentals, convention centers, festivals and other travel-oriented businesses. The initiative has been developed through a partnership of the North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service; The Center for Sustainability at East Carolina University; Visit North Carolina, and the Waste Reduction Partners program.

Tim Rhodes, Program Director of the NC GreenTravel Initiative, recently explained, “The purpose of the NC GreenTravel Initiative is to encourage a strong economy and promote sustainable tourism by awarding recognition to those businesses that apply and are accepted into the program.” The recognition program promotes robust economic growth and environmental stewardship in the travel and hospitality sector through the recognition of “green” travel-oriented businesses. Best of all, there is no cost involved in becoming a recognized NC GreenTravel business.

Digital Directory & Helpful Links

The website is a valuable toolkit for both residents and visitors traveling in North Carolina. Visitors to the site can browse a list or navigate a state map of Recognized NC GreenTravel members across the state. Tourism sectors are broken into several categories from lodging, dining, attractions, parks, festivals, vine & wine, nature-based and breweries. More than 100 businesses, parks, travel centers and other tourism sites are listed on the map and crisscross the state from Walnut Hollow Ranch in Hayesville to Cape Hatteras B & B in Buxton. Rhodes noted that there are 14 North Carolina State Parks participating in the NC GreenTravel Initiative including Merchants Millpond State Park in Gatesville, NC. The initiative has recently announced that Sustainable Farms can now apply for recognition. Farms currently listed on the program’s website include Hop’n Blueberry Farm in Black Mountain, Summerfield Farms in Summerfield, Ninja Cow Farm in Raleigh and Good Karma Ranch in Iron Station. These farms have met and exceeded the required criteria for becoming recognized as a Sustainable Tourism Farm.

merchants millpond state park

NC GreenTravel recognized Green Park – Merchants Millpond State Park

Whether you’re a business or traveler, you’ll discover a number of sustainable travel resources and links throughout the website – from NC Agritourism, tips for sustainable practices to green dining. Thanks to this exciting green travel program and partnership, NC travelers can now easily discover and support sustainable businesses throughout the Old North State.

Want to learn more? The North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (NC DEACS) can help businesses become more sustainable by providing them with non-regulatory, no-cost technical assistance and information. For information about the services provided by NC DEACS, contact tom.rhodes@ncdenr.gov or call (919) 707-8140.

Green Trips & Tips Along the Albemarle Sound Region

 

 

Step back in time and stay at the Beechtree Inn located in Hertford, NC. Choose among five pre-Civil War houses perched along 40 acres. A few of the cottages are pet-friendly. After a hearty country breakfast, take a road trip to Merchants Millpond State Park. Rent a canoe and paddle the enchanted cypress swamp and millpond.

 

ncbirdingtrailalbemarlesound

Day 2. Enjoy a lovely north-of-the-sound drive to the Outer Banks. Start the morning along one of NC Birding Trails at North River Game Land in Camden Co. Spend a casual afternoon fishing or strolling along NC Aquarium’s Jennett’s Pier in Nags Head, NC. Be sure to buy some NC Local Catch seafood while your dining out or shopping at the local market.

 

Dog Friendly along the Albemarle Sound

dogfriendlyalongthealbemarlesound

Winter often ushers in a season of nor’ easterly winds, dreary days and sub-freezing temperatures. Here in Eastern NC, we also have lovely stretches of milder weather. And those of us who own dogs are certainly glad to have several pet-friendly options available to us when the forecasts are favorable. Here’s a winter sampling of all things dog friendly along the Albemarle Sound.

Parks, trails and wagging tails

There are endless opportunities for dog friendly outings along the Albemarle Sound and Outer Banks. From county parks and multi-use trails to National Seashores and waterfront boardwalks. Many towns and parks encourage a pet welcoming environment. Some accommodate pet owners with user-friendly pet waste stations, dog-friendly parks and courtesy fountains for canines.

I live in the very pet friendly town of Edenton, NC. I recently walked my dog Harper with my friend Doug and his dog Wanda. I was talking to him about how friendly our town was and he quickly smiled and added, “The dogs are nice too!” We both met several months ago while walking our dogs in Queen Anne Park. Several of the small parks, neighborhoods and open spaces along Edenton Bay and the Edenton Cotton Mill Village offer ideal dog walking opportunities with convenient waste stations, open space and beautiful views of the bay. Unfortunately, there are no off-leash parks in the region of the Albemarle Sound. If you’re looking at scouting out new parks and facilities, be sure to check their rules and regulations and obey all leash laws. Some parks have restricted seasons when dogs are not allowed so it’s best to do a little research before you and Fido head out to a new place.

dogfriendlysandyrunpark

Dog lovers and explorers

Traveling around the sound, I’ve discovered several parks in the region that are dog friendly. Nags Head Woods Preserve offers several designated dog-friendly trails of various lengths including the Roanoke, Discovery, Town and ADA Trails. The town of Kitty Hawk operates the year-round Sandy Run Park, which adjoins the two-mile Paul Pruitt Multi-Use Path along The Woods Rd. Together, their trails and paths offer an extended winter outing for your family, friends and canine. My wife and I have a hyperactive chocolate lab so we recently took Harper out along the half-mile boardwalk at Sandy Run then ventured out on the paved multi-use path for an additional two miles. The paved trail is generally sheltered from coastal winds and there’s parking and restrooms available at Sandy Run Park.

dogfriendlyalbemarlesoundouterbanks

Canines on the coast

The beaches along the Outer Banks become less restrictive for pets during the off season so be sure to consider the seventy-plus miles of open beaches during your next mild winter outing. Most beach towns and public beaches still require leashes and in most cases, leashes which are not longer than 6 feet. The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau provides a comprehensive one-stop resource concerning dog-friendly beaches and town regulations for visitors to the OBX.

North Carolina State Parks provide pet-friendly facilities as well. Jockey’s Ridge in Nags Head and Pettigrew State Park along the shorelines of Lake Phelps both allow leashed pets.

dog friendly along the albemarle sound

Finally, our own National Parks celebrate their 100th anniversary this year! The park service permits dogs year-round (must always be restricted to a 6’ leash and designated swim beaches excluded) so load up your dogs when you travel along Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Last month, I was pleasantly surprised to find a handy pet fountain during our last canine adventure to the Bodie Island Visitor Center and Lighthouse.

wavelinksdogfriendlymap

Fore more dog friendly info, visit our interactive map and use our category filter “dog-friendly” to browse more resources including lodging, pet supply stores and restaurants who love dogs. Have fun, be safe and enjoy all the dog-friendly retreats along the sound!

What’s in Your Doggie Bag? Be sure to pack treats, toys, water, bowl, waste bags and a towel. Always be courteous to others and pick up/dispose of waste. Make sure your pet is wearing a secure collar, I.D. and registration tag. You’ll be set for your next excursion.

 

 

 

 

 

WaveLINKS Autumn Gear Review

wavelinksgearreview

Cheers to cooler weather and lower humidity! For some of us outdoor adventurers, autumn is the perfect season for camping, paddling, hunting, biking and hiking. Here are a few pocket-size and affordable gear options that are sure to lighten your load and sweeten your next outing.

waveLINKS gear reveiw

photo courtesy of Sawyer Products

H20 on the Go!

Regardless of your pleasure, safe potable water is essential to any outdoor experience. It can also be one of the most challenging elements to carry. Remember the rhyme, “A pint’s a pound, the world around” so 8 pints to the gallon weighs eight pounds. Three quarts (6 lbs.) per person per day may be sufficient for the average day hiker while a kayaker may get by on less especially during a cool overcast day. A portable filtration system turns streams and springs into a valuable asset and in some cases, a lighter hydration alternative. Whenever I venture into the woods, paddle skinny water or tour back roads of eastern NC, I often include a water filter in my gear checklist.

The Sawyer MINI is one of the most versatile and effective portable filtration systems that I’ve personally used. According to Sawyer’s product details listed on their website, the MINI removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli. It also removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium.

The high performance filter fits in the palm of your hand and attaches directly to the reusable drinking pouch, standard disposable bottles and hydration packs. Or simply use the system’s straw to drink directly from your water source. A cleaning plunger provides easy backwashing after extended use.

WaveLINKS gear review - MSR Rapid Cooking Pocketrocket™ Fuel to Gruel

Our second piece of gear pairs well with the Sawyer MINI especially if you like hot beverages or tasty food while exploring overnight adventures. Again if you prefer palm-size convenience and lightweight options, you’re sure to appreciate the MSR Rapid Cooking Pocketrocket™ ultralite canister stove. It’s one, two, three and your ready to fire up some cowboy coffee or cook a delicious one-pot meal. The stove and valve body fit inside a small plastic case. Simply connect the stove with an IsoPro canister, (80/20 blend of isobutane and propane), then light a match over the edge of the burner head, open the flame adjuster valve and presto, you’re ready to boil the pint of water you just filtered in only a few minutes! The glove-friendly flame adjuster control is a nice addition and is easy to ‘dial in’ from simmer to full boil positions.

waveLINKS gear review

photo courtesy of Hydrapak™

Collapsible & Adaptable

Our last autumn gear tip features an innovative design and eliminates the waste of plastic disposable bottles. Hydropak is a company whose slogan boasts, “Always Innovate. Never Compromise.” Their outdoor athletes-tested personal hydration products are quickly becoming one of the most popular and most functional products in the industry. They have been designing multi-purpose and collapsible bottles, flasks and reservoirs for the past 12 years. One of my favorite bottles is the Hydrapak™ 500 ml (17 oz.) Softflask™. The flask is made of  thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film body with a molded screw cap. The leak-proof design is easy to use and it collapses to a fifth of the original size when empty. The bottle includes a comfortable high flow soft silicone bite valve, twist shutoff valve, dust cap and nylon finger loop. The softflask works well for paddle boarding, running and cycling and it neatly packs away when empty. The sportflask™ line also includes 350 (12 oz.) & 750 ml. (77 oz.) bottles.

So all you gear geeks out there, be sure to give these products a field test during your next autumn adventure.

 

 

Suspension Therapy – When’s the last time you laid in a hammock? Check out Eagle Nest Outfitters hammocks for some serious hang time. Not only are they way cool, they are also comfortable, lightweight and durable. When used responsibly, they have a minimum impact on the trees and surrounding environment.
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