We started this trip with the intention of verifying the put in/take out and condition of this upper most section of the Shoal but we got a whole lot more. Have to admit this would not be for everyone-river was very low-took skill to manuver.
Technical Stuff: Chris and Rebecca and traveling partners Bruce and Carolyn put in at the Hwy 285 bridge at 9:45. The USGS Water gauge read 6.01 today for this section-Shoal near Mossy Head. (We do not recommend floating the river at a lower level due to the shallow sandy bottom and downfalls. The downfalls were passable at this water level in most cases.) The river access is located on the SW corner of the bridge. Adams Mill creek comes in river left about an hour downstream. The next landmark is Browns Branch just a few bends further down on river right. After this branch dumps in the river changes from sandy bottom and low banks with low hanging limbs to steep clay banks with a few deeper fishing holes. Our lunch stop was just around the corner from Mossy Head Branch which comes in river left. We estimated this area was about half way of the entire float. Shortly after lunch another branch (Bottle Branch) comes in river left which is just above the Hinote/Crowder Chapel Bridge. (Access is possible here but not recommended due to jap rock and tight space going down under bridge on SE corner) We logged about 3 hours to this bridge and another hour to the take out on Laird Road. We got to the take out at 2:15. We allowed about 1-1/2 hours for lunch and rest stops. The mileage given for this trip was gathered from past published information but it is our belief that this trip is shorter than published. Take out: Just before the bridge on the left. Directions to the take out: Continue north approximately 1/2 mile to Richardson Rd-turn left and follow this road past Crowder Chapel and Hinote Road until it becomes Laird Rd. (approximately 5 miles) to the bridge over the Shoal. Fun Stuff: The weather was perfect-the river was lovely, sandy and clear. Mountain Laurel was in full bloom along the banks. The group tried to fish the few deep holes but we kept paddling due to the unknown... we had never paddled this section-nor could we find recent information about this section. I think Chris would agree-it was a great way to spend his birthday. Other discoveries in the area: Access does not exist at the Hwy 393 bridge-appears to be private property and fenced off. Access at the bridge on Pond Creek (just above the confluence with the Shoal) has changed from the NW corner (Now Posted) to the SE corner of the bridge-there is an active ATV trail and about a 75-100' carry to the river but doable.
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