Beginning at the Green Acres Family Campground, the 5 brave souls trusted me to lead them down the mighty Roanoke from Williamston, NC to Jamesville, NC with an overnighter on the Conine Platform on the Roanoke.
Preston, Dave, and Darrell arrived first, at the campground, and got us signed in and paid up. Mimi, Andrew, and I arrived around 9:00 PM or so to a blazing fire and the most warm greeting and introductions of one to another. After setting up our respective tents on the ground we settled down around the table to wine and conversation, so we thought. Mimi produced a homemade pound cake which has no rival in my recent or long term memory of ever being of the fine quality of this one. After we all sampled the cake, Mimi became Queen Mimi as a salutation to one whose talents include making cakes to die for. All the wine disappeared and the remains of the cake were put away as we retired for the evening, but not before being warned to hold it down. (I can’t help it if paddlers are rowdy)
In the morning we prepared our breakfasts before we launched out to Roberson’s Marina to ante up for the platform. After a brief tour of Jamesville and directions at the post office, we drove to Roberson’s Marina by Garner Creek. We entered the establishment to be greeted by a woman lying on her back, covered in blankets, in the room in front of us. She informed us that she had had one of her legs removed in January. After some conversation, all who had to pay paid up for the platform. We then agreed to leave the vehicles at the Marina on Garner Creek for the shuttle. We were going to take out in Jamesville but the restaurant beside the takeout is closed on Sundays.
We then drove back up Williamston, offloaded the boats and gear and did the shuttle back to Roberson’s Marina.
The boat ramp at Williamston has a wooden ramp beside it which proved to be the ticket for launching the loaded kayaks into the river. The paddle to the shelter only took an hour and a half with the current.
Paddling up to the shelter, we were perplexed to see that there were no steps or wooden landing to paddle up to. It appeared that a storm and/or high water had washed away the landing proper up the the walkway leading to the platform. After surveying the spot, we assisted each other to disembark from our respective kayaks without incident on the muddy (slick as snake snot) bank. The boats were pulled, one by one, and hauled up and placed on various grasses which grew away from the mud bank. We were able, then, to unload our boats and approach the screened porch shelter. Much to our amazement, the screen door was open and wasps were buzzing around the ceiling of the shelter. The boards on the fascia of the building have about a 1/4inch gap so the integrity of the screening should not be relied upon to keep out no-see-ums.
4 brave souls decided the wasps were attic dwellers and not to be feared and set their shelters up inside the porch. Mimi and I took the front porch for our shelters, with screens and rain flies.
We all took a break on the porch, spread out and decided we would paddle across to Conine Creek to round out the afternoon. Again we had to negotiate the S-A-S bank via scrap boards, logs, and a root system next to the water, in order to re-enter the river. This time as the first, no one turned over, slipped, or was injured as we launched the kayaks again into the current of the Roanoke.
The fabulous six ferried over the the mouth of Conine Creek past a boat with a man and wife fishing. Upon asking if they were catching anything, the man hauled in a double and the wife caught fish. We exclaimed WE had brought them good luck as we paddled up Conine Creek, west and into the little current there was. The creek was a water nature land of wonder as is all water. We saw and heard deer, turkey, and maybe something bigger as we paddled en mass up the waterway.
There were plenty of blow downs however; they were all out of the way of cleared by some wonderful woodsman. There seemed to be a lot of mistletoe, so this would be a great place for a date, maybe. After paddling a few miles we reversed direction and flowed back to camp. It was 6:30 PM by now and all were ready for a hot meal after negotiating the lovely bank again. Of course, our paddling shoes were unrecognizable as were Darryl’s paddling pants due the thick mud on the bottom and on the bank itself. We were reminded that mud is a natural insect repellent as I slapped a couple of mosquitoes on my arm.
We fired up the stoves. Dave unpacked his mini grill and lit his charcoal. Cooking commenced straight a way and we dug in to our respective meals, as they were. Dave and Darryl produced steaks, which were cooked to perfection, on the charcoal grill. Preston worked on a chef’s boy ar dee concoction supreme to give his palette the delicacies he demanded. I had a dehydrated meal consisting of Chicken Dijon. It was yummy. After eating, the remains of the pound cake were seen lying amongst Mimi’s belongings on the porch. I pinched off a portion and passed it around for dessert.
After dinner we made sure our food was sealed up and we hauled everything up a rope a tree limb just in case we had a visitor in the night. Just when we got everything up, not knowing if the limb would break, one more batch of bags appeared. We procured one more carabineer and one more length of rope and suspended those bags out of the reach of the tallest visitors imaginable.
As the night darkened, it appeared we’d have a cloudy night with no stars. A few stars did peak through, though, the moon tried to punch through the haze. A few owls hooted and a few birds screeched but no other noises where heard. We all turned in and slept like babies.
In the morning we all agreed that everyone snored just little and that was ok. After conferring and planning the morning paddle we broke camp, loaded the boats and made our way down the S-A-S bank once more. The last launch proved that we had the system down pat and nothing could deter this group. We were all successful and no one flipped. (I did have my camera at the ready though)
We had a great paddle down the Roanoke to Spellers Creek, our supposed right hand turn. All boaters we encountered were knights on water. All of them gave us the right of way and went out of their way to be considerate of us, in our kayaks. Spellers Creek, we found out is not navigatable. Hummmm, after some reckoning we decided to on down to Devil’s Gut just before Jamesville, about 10 miles or so. We had a super paddle, seeing bald eagles, ospreys, cranes, and numerous water birds as were paddled north, then south to Devil’s Gut.
Devil’s Gut is a prominent channel dumping into the Roanoke on the west side. We paddled up Devils Gut, made all the correct turns, somehow and found ourselves at Garner Creek, the creek back to Roberson’s Marina our take out and the cars.
The paddle along Devil’s Gut was wide and curvy with Spanish moss hanging from the trees, ducks, and fishing boats aplenty. Cypress trees lined the back with their “knees” breathing in the air from above. All the trees had a waterline, at least 3 feet up on the tree. Water levels fluctuate somewhat along this stretch of water. The current was minimal and the water became stained as we entered Garner’s Creek.
We all felt like we were seeing things on the river like the early explorers as we paddled on quietly through the swampy, Spanish moss dripping creek.
Garner Creek was much narrower than Devil’s Gut and certainly the Roanoke and had many turns and we made our way back to the cars.
We arrived back at Roberson’s Marina late, well after lunch and we were all hungry, wet and tired, but spirited from the 15 mile plus paddle downstream and the upstream on waterways which I plan to visit many more times.
Preston took me to get my car while Dave and Darryl loaded there boats. When I returned, we got my car loaded and we headed for Williamston and FOOD. It was now about 4:30 or 5:00.
We drove to a McDonalds in Williamston. After washing up and checking the porcelain facilities we lined up for the fare of the day. We notice many alarms were sounding as we placed our orders and waited for our food. Darryl ordered an easy Big Mac so he could get his food quickly. By this time the place was jumping and people were arriving left and right. Bells were still sounding as alarms were going off in the kitchen. A particular tall young man with buzz cut and red hair was attempting to serve everyone as the rest of the staff seemed to be in zombie land and watched with nonchalance.
A few of us were getting our orders as others had not. My order was not cooked right but I figured take what you have, it may be awhile, if ever, if you go back. Just about all of us had our food by now except Darryl. The Big Mac was tripping someone up at Mickey D’s. Many folks were now glaring at the employees and at that point a women came out from the back, attempting to straighten everything out. She called out: “Please, Jesus, help me, anyone help me, just help me. I get to go home soon!” We were witnessing the “meltdown” at McDonalds. We think most people got their orders but we know the management at Mickey D’s that day needed Excedrin to the 10th power.
Many things are remembered on trips. We will always remember the meltdown and the Williamston, NC McDonalds on Sunday afternoon.
We will all remember the put in at Williamston, with the powered boats going to and fro, Darby, the bystander, joking with us and all as he had a comment for everything that past by.
We will remember the gentle flow of the Roanoke River as it took us to the Conine Platform.
We’ll all remember the mud bank and the climb up to place our boats.
We’ll all remember the Conine Platform with its charming screen porch.
We’ll remember the Conine Creek paddle and want to go all the way, next time.
We all want to go all the way down Devil’s Gut next time.
And we’ll always remember Roberson’s Marina with its gentle sloping takeout with the little boy asking us if we were pirates.