Tuesday, April 12, 2011

DRBA First Saturday Outing for May

DRBA Paddles the Dan in Stokes County
DRBA’s May 7 First Saturday Outing will be a 5-mile paddle trip on the Dan River in Stokes County from Snow Creek Access to Hemlock Golf Course Access coordinated by Will Truslow. 
 Meet at 10:00 a.m. at the Snow Creek Access, about 200 yards west of Dodgetown Road Bridge on Pitzer Road (GPS 36.4026, -80.1404), to unload boats and gear and set the shuttle.

For boat rentals and shuttle, contact Three Rivers Outfitters, 336-627-6215 or 276-340-3983, www.3-r-o.com, or Dan River Company, 336-593-2628, www.danrivercompany.com.

History and legend abound on this section of the river, which is characterized by high bluffs forested with hardwoods and stands of stately hemlock trees. Just upstream of the put-in is the frame of the Pitzer Steel Truss Bridge, dating from 1918.

About half a mile below Snow Creek is Thompson’s Fish Dam, which has remnants of a rare wooden slat trap. According to “An Insider’s Guide to the Dan River,” a “heavy timber frame, about eight feet square, formed a grid of slats” to trap fish channeled into the trap by a vee-shaped low rock wall.

At least two branches of the Great Wagon Road forded the river at shoals on this section, and caves are said to have been used by Confederate draft dodgers.

Rock formations and uncommon Carolina hemlock stands have received recognition as the Dan River Cliffs natural heritage area.

According to Truslow, “This section of the Dan has the last of the really high bluffs before the river winds on into the Piedmont. Some are about 150 feet high.” 

The most spectacular is Davis Bluff, a dramatic rock face on river left where huge boulders lie in the water at the base of the cliff. Legend says that a member of the Davis family fell to his death from the road on top. To this day, the cliff is known as Mount Horrible.

The Dan River in this section 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, it is located within sight of the take-out ramp at Hemlock Golf Course.

Meet at 10:00 at the Snow Creek Access on Pitzer Road. Arrange to supply boat, paddles, life jackets, water and lunch; wear water-shedding artificial fabric or wool (not cotton, and certainly not blue jeans); and provide a back-up change of clothing. All participants will be asked to sign a waiver.

Directions: At the intersection of NC 8 and NC 89 about 3 miles south of Danbury, NC, turn northeast onto Dodgetown Road. Drive about 4 miles and cross the Dan River. Immediately turn left onto Pitzer Road. Snow Creek Access is on the left in about 200 yards.

Driving south from Virginia on US 220, turn west on NC 770 to Sandy Ridge. Turn south on NC 704 to Prestonville. Turn south on NC 772 toDodgetown. Turn right onto Dodgetown Road and drive about 4 miles. Just before crossing the Dan River, turn right onto Pitzer Road. Snow Creek Access is on the left in about 200 yards.

More Information: Will Truslow, 336-547-1903, willtruslow@hotmail.com
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