Aug 19, 2012
Dec 30, 2013
. After everyone was back in their boats, we continued on past a few more rapids and then stopped along a beach for a break. Sandy and I didn't bring our lunch, so while the others were eating, we got out and stretched our legs a bit. After our break, we got back in the kayaks and finished up our paddle back to the outfitters. After returning our gear, the group broke up, with some people heading back to camp and a few others heading into Bryson City for lunch. We had Mexican for lunch before making our way back to the campsite. But on the way, we stopped to see a few smaller waterfalls on the way. One is on Wayah Road right before the intersection with Old River Road. And immediately upon turning on Old River Road is a pulloff to park and see Whiteoak Creek Falls. The waterfall is visible from the bridge on Old River Road, but a small trail leads to a better view of the falls. Unlike many waterfalls in the area where the rocks are smooth from the force of the water, the rock around this waterfall is much more jagged. There was also a nice pool at the base of the falls that would make a great swim hole when the weather is warmer and even a rope swing into the pool. After this waterfall, we also stopped to see another small, unnamed waterfall along Nantahala River. Pulloffs along Old River Road for roadside camping spots provided access to these smaller cascades. Back at the campsite, I went on a short hike along the Bartram Trail. The total trail is over 70 miles long with a section running through the Appletree Group Campground. This section of the trail runs right along the Nantahala River on the opposite side as Old River Road. I went out about 2 miles to where the trail heads away from the river and then turned around. Back at the campsite, we had a potluck with everyone cooking their favorite campfire meals. Sandy and I made chicken shish-kabobs and shared some corn, burgers, and other food our friends. Once a big campfire was built, we enjoyed some drinks and stories around the fire before going to bed.
Saturday morning, we had breakfast and headed out for our first day of paddling. Our destination was Tuckaseegee Outfitters in Whittier, just west of Sylva and Dillsboro. The Tuckaseegee is a little easier than the Nantahala, so this would be a good warm-up for our paddling tomorrow. Upon arriving, we changed into appropriate clothing, applied sunscreen, and got ready for our trip. After receiving our equipment and brief safety overview, we piled into the vans and headed to our put-in near Dillsboro under the US-441/US-23 bridge. We had rented "duckies", inflatable kayaks that are better suited for the rocks and rapids along the river. The current on the river was swift and soon we were heading down the river. The first mile or so of the river contains a few Class I rapids and several islands in the river. We saw several water birds in the river, including ducks, geese, and a great blue heron hunting fish. After a few easier rapids, we came to Double Drop, a class II rapid. Two people took a spill on this one, but somehow I managed to say in my duckie and get some video of the carnage on my GoPro