June 1, 2013

The Dan River Basin Association's First Saturday Outing on June 1 will be a 9-mile scenic float on Dan River from Moratock Park to Hemlock Golf Course Access in Stokes County, NC. Meeting at 10:00 a.m. at the park in Danbury (GPS 36.408055, -80.198286), participants will set the shuttle and launch at the public access point.

Boat rentals and shuttle will be available at Three Rivers Outfitters of Eden, 336-627-6215, www.3-R-O.com.
Coordinator for the trip is Will Truslow, past president of DRBA and an experienced kayaker. Truslow says, "We will be on a less-traveled but beautiful part of the Dan, and the longer daylight this time of year allows us to enjoy a longer trip." Rated as Class 1 in difficulty, this part of the river has high forested bluffs that make it particularly striking. In addition to early summer wildflowers and blossoming trees, paddlers may see animal trails, herons, geese, and songbirds.

History and legend abound on this part of the river. The outing begins near the historic 1843 Moratock Iron Furnace in Moratock Park. The furnace made iron for the Confederacy until the dam that fed water to it was destroyed in 1865 on the same day that Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Built by Native Americans and later residents to capture fish on their spawning runs, vee-shaped fish weirs are found in the river bed. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, branches of the Great Wagon Road forded the river on shallow shoals. A later means of crossing the river is marked by the steel skeleton of the 1918 Pitzer Truss Bridge, just upstream of modern Dodgetown Bridge. A fish dam a quarter mile below features a rare wooden slat fish trap at the apex of a stone fish weir.

Uncommon Carolina Hemlock stands grace the Dan River Cliffs natural heritage area. Riverside caves in the cliffs are said to have been used by Confederate draft dodgers. Most striking is Davis Bluff, the scene of a fatal fall, also known as Mount Horrible, marked by huge boulders in the river at the base of the precipice.

This portion of the Dan River is rated mostly as Class 1, but the remains of a former Duke Power dam, dynamited in 1975, create a sometimes challenging Class 2 rapid. Fortunately, this final rapid is within sight of the take-out ramp.

Participants in the outing should supply boat, paddles, life jackets, drinks, snacks and lunch, wear water-shedding artificial fabric or wool, and be prepared to get wet. All participants will be asked to sign a waiver.

To reach Moratock Park traveling on NC 8/89, turn onto Sheppard Mill Road, crossing the bridge over the Dan. At the end of the bridge, turn left into the parking lot to unload boats and gear for launching at the beach.

DRBA invites the public to join in, free of charge.
For questions about the outing, contact Will Truslow, 336-547-1903, willtruslow@hotmail.com.