I recently went on my last paddle as an intern here with the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation. I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to do it. The sky was clear and the temperatures were at a very comfortable 72 degrees. Long time PTRF member Bob Hudkins took me out to two different locations near Rocky Mount. We met in Rocky Mount at 12 o’clock and I followed him out to our first destination, Sapony Creek. We pulled over just after the bridge crossing the creek on Sandy Cross Road. After untying the kayaks from our cars and getting everything in order, we walked them down the embankment and slid into the water.
The first impression I had upon paddling into the creek was that I was floating through the woods. Trees grew straight out of the water everywhere I looked. As we paddled up the creek we wound our way through the trees, often having to paddle around groups of trees that grew too thick together. 15 minutes into the paddle we caught sight of a log in front of us that was covered in turtles. We crept closer for a better look. Thankfully only a few of them retreated into the water, allowing us to take a few photos before we moved on. We paddled along as the swamp slowly curved to the right, and Bob suddenly stopped and pointed out a tall tree a couple hundred feet in front of us. A large eagle’s nest was built in between a fork in the branches near the top of the tree, and a bald eagle was perched on a branch above it. We both got our cameras out and snapped a few photos, paddling a little bit closer in between each picture. After admiring the eagle for another minute we continued through the swamp, which got continually thicker the further in we paddled. At one point appeared that we would have to turn around, but we found a narrow pathway on the left that made a loop back around to the eagles nest. Upon arriving back at the eagles nest, we looked up and saw that there were now two eagles perched in the tree. One of them took off and flew high above us. I’d always heard about how majestic the bald eagle looks while in flight, and watching it soar through the air truly was a sight to see. After taking another few photos of the eagles, we paddled back to the put in and tied our kayaks back onto our cars.
We drove about 10 minutes to the main part of the Rocky Mount Reservoir and stopped at a public boat access off of Old Carriage Road. After getting back into our boats, we paddled upriver and around a bend to the left towards Goat Island, a small island in the middle of the reservoir. Rocky Mount has two camping platforms with a similar design to PTRF’s platforms, and one of them is located on this island. The shoreline on the approach to the island was dotted with houses on large open fields of grass running down to the water. The wind had picked up considerably, and it blew against us as we moved toward the island, slowing our progress. We reached the island and found the dock for the camping platform. We docked our boats and got out to inspect the platform. The sounds of geese calling to each other permeated the whole island. It seemed they had adopted the island as their home. Indeed, upon reentering the water and circling the island, we saw several females laying on their nests, and crowds of geese walking around on its shores. We circled the island in about five minutes and then headed back towards the put in. With the wind at our backs we made much better progress and found ourselves on dry land again around 4 o’clock. As I fastened my kayak to my car, I my thoughts went back to all of the places I have seen while interning with PTRF. I felt and still feel incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to explore the waterways along the Pamlico-Tar River watershed, and look forward to sharing the beauty of these waterways with my family and friends in the years to come.