One of the first paddle trips I took east of I-95 after arriving in North Carolina in the early 1990s was to the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. I’d driven past the 154,000-acre lowland several times on my way to the Outer Banks, but for some reason never thought to bring a boat. Then I saw that the refuge was leading weekly paddle trips, so I signed up. As we were paddling the expansive Milltail Creek east toward the Alligator River, someone in the group asked why we weren’t seeing the refuge’s namesake reptile.
The ranger leading the trip told us to raft up and watch the river bank to the south. The bank was dominated by three-foot-high reed grass and what appeared to be fallen logs in the water.
“Watch,” he instructed. We did, and before long we noticed that the logs were blinking.
I tell this story a lot when explaining the allure of exploring Eastern North Carolina. There is so much to see east of I-95, it sometimes just takes a little extra patience and perseverance. I’ve since embraced that approach in telling the adventurous story of Eastern North Carolina, a story that’s yet to be fully appreciated by a larger audience.
We hope to change that in the months and years ahead. One way is by teaming with our friends at Great Outdoor Provision Co. in Greenville to form GetExploring! Greenville.
Our goal is two-fold:
Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video or slide show of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.
The first significant cool front in a while descends over much of the state, leaving weekend highs in the 60s and 70s over much of the state. Here are three ways to take advantage of our weather windfall.
We’re avid proponents of starting the weekend early, especially when the destination is a place called Keg Island. Thus, we endorse Friday’s Sunset Kayaking Adventure at River Road Park in Wilmington. The trip begins at the park, on the Cape Fear River between Wilmington and Carolina Beach, and paddles on the river out to Keg Island for a picnic. Then it’s back to the put in as the sun sets.
The following is part of GetGoingNC.com’s ongoing collaboration with Great Outdoor Provision Co. To keep reading, click on “Keep reading here.” You’ll be taken to the rest of the story, plus a list of 10 Can’t-Miss Paddling Destinations in Eastern North Carolina.