Paddlers Clay Barber, left, Sound Rivers’ environmental projects coordinator, Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell and Miller the pup head out on the fourth day of their five-day journey down the Pamlico River. Photo: Sound Rivers
Two Sound Rivers employees recently embarked on a five-day kayaking trip down the Pamlico River, a reconnaissance mission to document environmental conditions that started Oct. 17 in Washington and ended in Swan Quarter.
Over the course of these 70 river miles, the paddlers would observe the beauty of the river and note any issues they noticed along the way.
Sound Rivers is a nonprofit advocacy group that aims to protect the health of the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse River basins.
Last year, after canceling many of their normal community events because of the pandemic, they tried out a kayaking adventure down the Tar River. They documented their journey on social media to engage the community.
This year, they’re at it again, this time exploring a different section of their designated waters. The paddlers are Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell and Environmental Projects Coordinator Clay Barber. A nonpaddling, but still participatory passenger is Miller, Howell’s 53-pound puppy.
As a riverkeeper, Howell’s eyes were fixed on the environmental issues she noticed along the way. Barber’s passion is accessibility to watersports and to the river itself. As they paddled down the Pamlico, both hoped to learn a little bit more about the resource that they steward, and share that information with the community.
Howell and Barber’s journey was preempted by a supportive send-off from the Havens Garden Kayak Launch in Washington. A handful of folks from the community came out to participate in a trash cleanup at the site and watch the paddlers embark on their journey. A few friends joined the paddle for a while before exiting the river as the travelers went on their way.
This first day included 8 miles of paddling through a residential stretch along the Pamlico’s shores. Then they traveled up Broad Creek, passing marshy banks and cypress trees with hanging moss along the way. Though sunny and warm, the wind picked up and Howell and Barber encountered choppy waters. Barber, paddling in a sea kayak, kept getting splashed from behind. On days like this, he said, a spray skirt is a helpful piece of gear that can protect you from getting damp.
A fish kill as observed on the first day of the paddlers’ journey. Photo: Sound Rivers
Howell and Barber …….