Participants will meet a 10:00am at the Smith River Sports Complex (GPS36.63383,-79.82511). Boat rentals and shuttle may be arranged through Smith River Adventure Outfitters of Martinsville, (276) 252-0701, http://www.smithriveradventureoutfitters.com/, or Three Rivers Outfitters of Eden (336)627-6215, http://www.3-r-o.com/.
Coordinators for the outing are two avid paddlers and board officers of DRBA, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Mark Bishopric. Kirkpatrick says, "This will be the first time DRBA has scheduled a First Saturday Outing on the first two miles of this section. The Class III rapid know as Eggleston Falls is bypassed by a batteau sluice, making it appropriate for novice paddlers."
In the nineteenth century, the Smith River was improved to allow long, narrow batteaux, the commericial craft that carried cargo up and down the river, to pass through rocky ledges. The river's navigation improvements include the channel beside Eggleston Falls, described in DRBA's Insider's Guide to the Smith River as "the largest set of falls on the Smith River."
According to the guide, available at http://www.danriver.org/, "a batteau sluice blaseted out of bedrock is adjacent to the falls river left." DRBA coordinators will point out the sluice for those who prefer to use the gentler passage.
Just downstream of Eggleston Falls, Marrowbone Creek enters the Smith River from the right. The Marrowbone Creek Access is one of the most popular launching sites on the river.
On a hillside just below Marrowbone Creek, covered by a rhododendron thicket, is the 75-acre Gravely Nature Preserve, developed by DRBA as part of the Smith River Trail System. The preserve, a Henry County park, boasts two miles of trials with interpretive signs, a wealth of wildflowers and ferns, and the family cemetery of the historic Burgess Plantation. Hikers may be glimpsed on the riverside trail.
A mile below the Gravely Nature Preserve, Leatherwood Creek enters the river from the left. Near the headwaters of the creek, Patrick Henry lived on a large plantation from 1779-1786. Both Patrick and Henry counties ar named in honor of this Revolutionary War patriot.