I've organized several group canoeing/kayaking trips with friends. The first was the last weekend of April 1996 (the 27th) on a Class 1/2 river (the Upper Haw WAS suggested as good for beginners) as the start of a spring/summer of playing with my new/used kayak. We had 18 people with us, and succeeded in not killing any of them (the same can't be said for the canoes - killed one, flipped 13).

The next trip was on the Cape Fear, June 9th, 1996, with only 5 of us, but this time everyone (even the boats) came out just fine (me, Mike, Lynn, Marnie, & Andrew).

My next trip was July 13, 1996; we went to the Eno where it enters Falls Lake. A nice day paddling about. We saw beaver, egrets, heron, and some type of raptor (if only we were ornitholigists!) (me, Marnie, Heidi, David, and Andrew).

The next trip was the last weekend in July, 1996. We went out to the NC coast, and then paddled over to the Outer Banks for lunch and surfing. Most of us also paddled out a couple of miles to sea, seeing amazingly clear water, a sea turtle, jelly fish, and some kind of REALLY big fish. It was a weekend kind of thing--camping at the beach. We had a 8 people, w/one who didn't bother paddling. It was probably the best trip so far, just ask anyone who was there!

Next was the trip to the Outer Banks on the weekend of August 16th, 1996. We lost a lot of people due to illness, other commitments arising, and a last-minute date change. But the smaller numbers worked out for the better; we had few enough (six) people to manage to carry all of our gear out to the Outer Banks and camp there Saturday night. The sunset and sunrise were gorgeous. Along were me, Rita, Sarah Scott, Drew, Chris, and Waverly.

The next trip was Sept. 21, 1996. We went down the Haw with, well, not enough water, topped off by the sit-on-top missing the cargo hatches so it kept sinking (really, it wasn't Al's fault!). Still, yet another great time. Need to remember to pack lunch though. With us we had Ron, Al, Lynn, Andrew, Marnie, Mark, Mike, Hank, and, of course, myself.

The next trip was April 25, 1997. We had 12 people with us and 9 boats (Me, Andrew, Kevin, Cecile, Cristina, Andrew, Kate, Tom, Lisa, Neal, Jenny, Bill), switching to the Haw as the Cape Fear was at over 7'!. We ran from Chicken Bridge to Robeson Creek. 5.5' was probably the perfect height for this trip. We had a blast, managing to flip everyone over at least once. The lower section is just NOT suited for canoes (right Tom?). On the upper section we only lost Jenny (I believe) when the front of their two-person boat hit rocks. Right below 15-501 under Bynum Bridge on the left, and right above it on the left are really bad tree problems, particularly the upturned base that's facing upstream. Also down below Gabriel's Bend past 64 on the left is a REALLY nasty strainer that looks like you could pass right by. After having it catch both myself and the canoe, we portaged everyone else around it.

Next we went on the Cape Fear on May 17, 1997, finally having the water drop enough to be runnable. This is really a good river for beginners, much better than the Haw, presuming there isn't TOO much water. Probably the best weather yet, at about 80 degrees. Managed to get almost everyone surfing. We had me, Marnie, Andrew, Kevin, Drew, Jenn, David, Heidi, and Taka-san along with us.

Managed a quick day-trip down to Surf City on August 2, 1997. Took with us me, Marnie, Mike, Marie, Andrew, Drew, Scott, and Waverly. We had a blast; a day-trip is a good way to do this. Managed to roll 5 of the 8 times I had waves flip me; a white-water boat just is NOT a surfing boat, but it's great practice. Waves were lousy to start, and got better as the tide came in. Then just as we were leaving Drew spotted the pod of dolphins off the coast. We all took off; Andrew got to within about 15 feet of a pair of them; the closest I came was about 40ft. to another pair. Still, it shows it IS possible.

On the weekend of Sept. 27th, 1997 I finally managed to get a rafting trip together. Mostly it was people from work, and a few other friends as well. In total there were 11 of us (Me, Marnie, Andrew, Chris, Karen, David, Cheryl, Bill, Dave, Brian, and Kevin). Two of those are Marnie's parents. We left Sat. morning for Beckley State Park (later discovered to be Babcock State Park, grf.). Everyone left at different times, but all managed to show up at about the same time due to varying interpretations of the directions. We went hiking on Narrow Gauge Trail to the swinging bridge, and then came back up the Rocky Tail, a "short, steep difficult trail . . . much easier walking downhill from Skyline." The rafting trip? We went with North American River Runners in west Virginia down the lower section of the Gauley River. Our guide's name was Jeff, and we had a great time. Kevin, Dave, and Brian managed cleverly to be in one of the three (of six) rafts that flipped in the rapid called (aptly) Pure Screaming Hell. It was great. The drive back was a pain; we got back LATE, but already people are talking about what to do next.

April 25, 1998
Organized a group trip down the Cape Fear, then at the last minute switched to the Haw, as the water level on the Cape Fear was up to 7.5'. We had with us: me, Marnie, Andrew, Bill, Lisa, Kevin, Bill, Hank, Neal, Jenny, & Jimmy. The weather was a wonderful 80 degrees, the water was at 5.25' on the Haw, and everything went wonderfully. We ran from Chicken Bridge to Robeson, which was a bit far for some. Listen to Pro Canoe when the say the Twister is for advanced boaters.

June 6, 1998, we went down the Cape Fear in Lillington. It was about 2.15 USGS, which was a bit low, but not really noticable to the novices. It was a bit of a dreary day, and surprisingly chilly (~75 degrees) for a June. People who went were: Me, Marnie, Andrew, Dave, Mike, Wendy, Wheeler, Hank, Jim, Lisa, Deb, Lila, Bill, KEvin, and Terry. BTW, ever seen a dog go 8 miles on a river and run Class 3 rapids? W/o a boat? "Woodie!" (Sorry, you had to be there.)

June 27, 1998. Yet another group trip down the Cape Fear, mostly coordinated by Lisa. REALLY low, with boats scraping and getting stuck for no good reason. 1.6 USGS is lower than I think I'll run it again. We had with us me, Marnie, David, Heidi, Lisa (Mike, Janet, Rob, Susan/Q, Steve, Kyle), Galen, Deb, Terry, Cecile, Rolf, Christina, and Hama. Going to dinner in Erwin seems to be working. They seem to know us now, or at least Mike.

July 25, 1998. Beach trip to SeaLevel and out. Those going were me, Marnie, Andrew, Lisa, Mike, Wendy, Terry, Waverly, Scott, Rita, Ken, Brian, Bill, Galen, and Lila. We've determined that Yak Boards are pretty much useless for anything, and that XTs and the Scupper Pro are excellent. We saw a pod of dolphins again, mating horseshoe crabs, and Ken _says_ he saw a sea turtle. Fishermen also caught (that night) a 5' shark. Just loads of wildlife this trip (not to mention the seemingly obligatory mosquitoes and biting flies). The way back is easy if you just go to the white point and then veer _right_ when you get closer. The way out is porbably easier if you head to the island first, and then veer right, out, but it's shallower creeping left if you're having boat trouble. I think 1.5 gal of water per person is more than enough, and we had WAY more than that. But from all reports so far, everyone had fun.

Oct. 17-19, 1998. Trip up to the mountains so Andrew and I could run the French Broad. Marnie, Rita, and the kids went up to Biltmore, and Jim and Ronna went hiking on Mt. Mitchell. Lisa was kind enough to be the shuttle for Andrew and I. Beautiful weather. French Broad River Campgroup is pretty basic, only a short step up from a state park, but it was on the river, which was nice, and close to the put-in, and only $3 a night. The river was quite low (~700cfs) but runnable. The upper section (8) would be a lot of fun with water. Although Jim, Ronna, and Lisa left early Sun, the rest of us went hiking at South Mountain State Park, to see the 80-foot waterfall there. We also could see rainbow trout in the stream.

April 25, 1999. After the initial scheduling problems, Sunday worked out for the best. We had 13 boats (16 people), on our way down the Cape Fear at Lillington. At only about 1.7 USGS it was a big rocky, but not quite as low as last time, so it was mostly bumping rocks instead of being stuck on them. It was a beautiful day tho, with the water only a bit cool.. Along for the ride: Rick, Marnie, Andrew, Lisa, Mike, Ronna, Neal & Jenny and 3 of their friends, Gary, Kay, Rita, Heather, and Brandon.

May 22, 1999. The French Broad with Mike, Mary Hebrank, Brent Summerfied and some others. Again, not many records. *sigh*

May 29-31, 1999. Marnie, Andrew and I cruised up to the mountains for Memorial Day weekend. Camping at the French Broad River Campground Fri & Sat night, and the Lost Mine Campground at the Nantahala on Sun. A LOT of fun. The dam at the Pigeon was running. A bit over Marnie's head, mostly 'cuz she was rusty. A total blast. Nantahala was crowded and COLD, but a lot of fun. Not the place to be if you don't know what you're doing in a canoe. The Tuckaseegee was calmer (mostly flat) with a nice III and a couple of IIs in there.

June 12, 1999. Few records exist of this trip. *sigh*. Looks like it was a day trip with Andrew. Anyone?

August 28, 1999. A group day trip to the beach. Not a lot of records. Mom went (wow! to see mom surfing!), along with Bill, Marnie, Angela, down to Surf City at the usual spot just north of town.

April 29, 2000. Group trip on the Cape Fear. Nine people - Jim, Rob, Andrew, Rick, Bill, Waverly, Charlotte, Mike, Lisa. 4' USGS. Gorgeous day. Didn't rain until just after we pulled out. Except for Lisa's flat, it was a great day.

4/26/08. It's been 8 years since I organized one? Can't be, must have just not recorded it. Group trip (Marnie, Chuck, Charlie, John) with a few coworkers to the Cape Fear. Really low, but an great day. Saw 3 bald eagles in their nest, and lots of wildlife.

5/1/10. Group trip down the Cape Fear. Lost almost half the group in the week coming up to it. Left were: Eric and Jennifer, John McDonald, Steve, Peter and daughter, Lauralee and daughter. Hearing the girls shriek as we buried the bow of their boat was a lot of fun. LOW water, but we got down (the Malibu's would prefer at least 1.9).