90 Second Escape: Eaten by the Haw

“How are we doing?” the guy asked with a bemused look. I was momentarily distracted by the vintage WWII Jeep the guy and his girlfriend were in, and before I could answer, he added, “You weren’t hiking along the river, were you? Because there’s no trail along the river.”

I was on the shoulder of NC 87 in Altamahaw, nearly back to my car at the put-in for the Haw River Paddle Trail. It might have been my day pack that tipped the guy off that I’d been hiking. Might have been the multiple mildly bleeding scars that covered every exposed portion of my body that suggested I’d been hiking the Haw. The densely vegetated, briar-enveloped, beaver-dam-swamped Haw.

“They’re trying to get a trail,” he said. “But there’s not one there yet.”

A smile slowly crossed my face. “I know,” I replied.

I’ve been trying to wrap up a river mapping project for the Haw River with minimal cooperation from Mother Nature and my schedule. When there’s been enough rain to paddle, life has gotten in the way. And when life has eased, so have the rains and the water levels necessary to paddle certain sections. Then I got the bright idea to map the river from the banks. I’ve hiked the Haw from U.S. 64 north to Bynum, I reasoned. Piece of cake.

Yes, genius, but there’s a trail along that stretch.

Oh. Oh, yeah.

So, what’s it like to hike a Piedmont river lifted from the Amazon? Well, it’s great adventure. Beyond that, you’ll just have to tag along on our little slide show and see.

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