New River Second Generation

New River Second Generation

On the beautifully sunny mid-summer Saturday of July 26, 2008, soon after Debbie's elective surgery, Ranger Bob (me) got out of the house to play with the next generation. Joined by nephews Mathew Laney and Robert Parker, and their brides Liz and Meredith, we made a leisurely paddle trip down the South Fork of the New River. The put-in was Zaloo's Canoes and the take-out was the US 221 bridge about 10 miles down stream.


I brought my own gear. The younger generation rented their boats from Zaloo's Canoes, conveniently located beside the river on NC Hwy 16 just south of NC Hwy 88. Matthew and Robert's years of Boy Scouts and outdoor experience showed in their excellent paddling technique, while Liz and Meredith were just as good. Once we got under way down river, Robert and Meredith showed a proclivity for paddling ahead. I stayed in about the middle, with Matthew and Liz exploring more of the river and engaging in more conversation.

We passed the standard pastoral scenery that makes the New River famous. The water level was about as low as it can get and still be decently navigable. We scraped a few times but did not get badly stuck.

Just below the one big rapid at the old grist mill, we took a break at the big rock on river right beside deep water. Matthew and Robert showed off their athleticism by diving repeatedly into the chilly water. The ladies guarded the boats. I could not let the boys get completely ahead of me, so I jumped in one time.

Did I mention that I brought my own boat? Look at the photo of my canoe in the slideshow. Isn't that a lovely, sleek, balanced, well equipped craft? I just love it!

We had a pleasant lunch on the picnic tables near the ranger station by the top of the big meadow at New River State Park, Wagner Access. Not knowing how long it would take to get to our take-out at the US 221 bridge, we hustled fairly quickly down river after lunch. We were surprised to get there a couple hours early. So we lolled around in the water, in site of the take out, about a quarter mile upstream. Soon enough, we were crammed far too tightly in the van and bouncing on small country lanes back to Zaloo's.

We promised to do the same thing again, some time soon!

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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.