Tuesday, November 11, 2008

25th Annual Sprig Outing

25th Annual Sprig Outing
On Upper Little River
Saturday, December 6, 2008

Are you planning to deck the halls? Do you have access to a canoe or kayak? Can you borrow a long-handled tree pruner or a painter’s pole with a grappling hook? Then join the warmly and gaily appareled boaters at Hardee’s in Lillington, North Carolina at 10:00 Saturday, December 6, to caravan to the Upper Little River, tributary of the Cape Fear.

After a briefing, participants will caravan to a private landing place on the river in hopes of capturing some prime specimens of phoradendron flavescens, otherwise known as the familiar holiday parasite mistletoe.

“Don’t worry too much about being cold,” says veteran sprigger Forrest Altman, who initiated the Sprig Outing as chairman of the Headwaters group of the Sierra Club while living in Durham. He’s been going back virtually every year for the last quarter century. “On some sunny December days I’ve found myself putting my jacket back in my dry bag.” Why travel that far? Why not get out the shotgun? “Because shooting damages the trees—and the mistletoe,” Altman explains. And because mistletoe and holly grow profusely—and sometimes down low—in Southern swamps. “And because cooperating in coaxing the mistletoe down out of the trees is great fun. Let’s just hope the grey-white berries will be ripe and fat on time this year,” Altman continues. “They aren’t always.”

Participants should dress warmly in polypropylene and wool and bring boat, life jacket for each person, lunch and water—and a change of clothes in case of an upset. Some paddling skill is advisable. The group will put in, paddle upstream on relatively flat water for about a mile, stopping to cooperate in culling the most gorgeous specimens of mistletoe and holly. Shortly after negotiating one mild rapid they’ll have lunch by some sprightly and musical rapids and then head back downriver, heading home well before dark.

Altman, who has been seeking his successor as Sprig Outing coordinator for some years, may finally have found some takers. Leaders of the Tar Heel Paddlers will be present on this year’s trip to become more familiar with the river and get acquainted with the landowner who has been host of the event for several years. Over the years, the Sprig Outing has drawn participants from several Sierra Club groups, from the Dan River Trail Association, Dan River Basin Association, the Carolina Canoe Club, the Lumber River Canoe Club, Triad River Runners and the Tar Heel Paddlers.

  • To reach Hardee’s in Lillington from Raleigh, take either US 401 or I-40 / NC 55 / US 401 to Lillington. After crossing the Cape Fear River, travel about two blocks to Hardee’s on the right.
  • From Durham, take NC 55 to Fuquay-Varina, US 401 to Lillington.
  • From Greensboro, take US 421 South through Siler City and Sanford. In Lillington, turn right at the traffic signal on US 401 South.
  • From the east or west Lillington is reachable on NC 27.
  • From the southeast take NC 210.
For further information or to receive information about mistletoe or past Sprig Outings, call Forrest Altman at 336-234-8556 or e-mail forrestaltman@mebtel.net.
Article contributed by: Forrest Altman
Photos contributed by: Wayne & Betty Kirkpatrick
Edited and Posted by: Vicky Thomas & T Butler

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