Sunday, April 30, 2006


Looking for Alligators, originally uploaded by jmharper.

The first River Mice paddle of 2006 was a big one, and a good one. Six mice saw the weather forecast (rain!) and decided to go down to North Carolina for an overnight paddle anyway. Jerry led the group, and was joined by Jeff, Chris, Jim, Jeanine, and George.

The rain wound up dominating events, but didn't keep the group from enjoying what paddling they could, and the rest of the experience. Mice have done rain before! (See the West Neck Creek paddle last August.)

The Secret to Paddle Camping

The Secret to Paddle Camping, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Thank you George, for coming along, and for bringing your canoe! Camping with kayaks means you are very limited in what you can bring along. A canoe means hauling capacity, and being able to bring a few things you otherwise couldn't.

The scenery at Merchant's Millpond was amazing, with cypress trees everywhere! It felt more like the bayou, or the Okeefenokee Swamp, than North Carolina! The trees were so thick in most places that colored floats marked the trail between the ramp and the campsites.

Waiting for the Rain to End

Waiting for the Rain to End, originally uploaded by jmharper.

We got back from our exploration paddle just before it started pouring. Thanks to George's forethought, we had a small canopy to gather under. We were hoping the rain would stop and we could have a fire, but the rain never really stopped.

It poured for 11-1/2 hours overnight, from 5:30pm to 5am, confining everyone to their tents for the duration. With all the rain, there was surprisingly little mud the next day, and very little leakage into our tents.

Breaking Down Camp

Breaking Down Camp, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Even when you are limited in space, you can bring along a few comforts, like a stove to cook breakfast, a table to eat it off, and a tent with a little elbow room.

Sunday morning was sunny, but cold, as the same front that brought us all the rain also dropped the temperatures by at least twenty degrees.

No Way it All Fits On One Boat!

No Way it All Fits On One Boat!, originally uploaded by jmharper.

After camp is broken down, everything is hauled back down to the boats for packing. It may seem like putting the toothpaste back in the tube, but if you have a system like Jerry does, it should all fit back inside the front and rear hatches.

Note the luggage trolley that makes gear hauling much easier.

Oh Yes it Does!

Oh Yes it Does!, originally uploaded by jmharper.

Here is Jerry's fully loaded boat, ready for put in. Jeanine is verification that yes, everything fit!

The Merchants Millpond overnight was quite an experience. Most of the paddlers want to try it again, to apply some lessons learned, and hopefully get some more paddling on this most interesting and different lake.

Keep your eyes open for a DAY PADDLE here in June. We will only pack lunches and cameras.