New River Paddle 10 Miles

09/03/2021
Gerianne and Rose at the put in

On the beautiful Sunday of August 29, 2021, Gerianne Hannibal, Rose Pawlyszyn and Ranger Bob took a paddling trip on the New River in Ashe County.  Gerianne and Rose rode their red sit on top kayaks; while I went in my teal and wood framed solo canoe. Our trip was from Zaloo’s Canoes just upstream from the NC 88 bridge to the Gentry Road bridge. 

The weather was nearly perfect with lots of sun, periods of upstream breezes and no rain or clouds. I believe Gerianne and Rose used sunscreen.  I had been exposed to so much sun playing tennis and other outside sports that I enhanced my tan.

We put in early morning and paddled five miles in a couple hours to the New River State Park Wagoner Access.  Along the way we encountered few [or no?] other paddlers.  There were some scattered tubers with coolers and a laid back way of traveling. At the park we ate our picnic lunches.  Rose had several peanut butter and banana sandwiches. She kindly shared a tasty sandwich with me, so I gladly skipped my snack of beef jerky and granola bars. Unlike my last several trip, I brought two canteens of water and did not run out of drink.

After lunch we headed further downstream five more miles to the Gentry Road bridge in another couple hours.  In between the water seemed to be a little low.  There was a long, nearly two mile stretch, with nearly constant riffles.  None of the riffles were big or difficult to navigate, but the exposed rocks were barely big enough to catch a carelessly paddled boat, hold it and possibly turn it over. After a while it became an irritation to constantly paddle and steer with no break for two miles.

After that, we encountered a moderate rapid that I did not remember from my prior trips. Gerianne and Rose took the left side of the river and eased through. I took the right route and encountered a section with no way through.  I realized the problem too late and caught a fairly large rock in a moderately large rapid. In an instant my canoe capsized and filled with water.  Fortunately my boat was stuffed full with four flotation bags which kept the canoe high enough in the river to be manageable and not unwieldy heavy. Further fortunately the rocks in the rapid were sized and placed conveniently to prop up one gunnel, turn over the canoe and empty the water.  I could sit and re-arrange my scattered gear. I had enough foresight to have everything strapped in so nothing was lost downstream.  Hoping back in and continuing to paddle was not a problem.

The take out at Gentry Road bridge was small, steep and somewhat hard to handle. Quite luckily the Zaloo’s crew who met us at Gentry arrived one minute before we did.  They helped us get to shore, haul our boats uphill and load onto their trailer.  Zaloo’s shuttle back to their shop where our trucks were parked was breezy and pleasant. 

My plan for our next trip is to paddle from Gentry Road Bridge to the New River Outfitters Shop downstream from the US 221 bridge and hire NRO to run our shuttle.

A good time was had by all.

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GPS Coordinates: 36 24 49,-81 23 00

Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.