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Raleigh, N.C. — After working on the WRAL Documentary ‘New Trouble on the Neuse River,’ WRAL photojournalist Richard Adkins takes us for a multi-day, ground-level look at North Carolina’s important waterway.
We gathered Sunday morning at Anderson Point in Raleigh, seven of us – six men and a woman. We were there to launch our kayaks in the Neuse River. Later in the day it would hit me that there were seven people aboard the S.S. Minnow as well.
This is more than a three-hour cruise. We’re taking seven days to paddle all the way New Bern. The journey is about 180 miles. It will take us through Smithfield, Goldsboro, Kinston and finally New Bern.
The first thing I notice when hitting the water is all the debris from Hurricane Florence. Large logs are piled against the railroad bridge crossing the river at our launch site. We have to paddle upstream to avoid the log jam before turning down-river and heading east.
The Sunday paddle is a short day – just 15 miles to get used to boats and paddle partners. The route takes us by the Raleigh Wastewater plant. The smell is a stark reminder that the Neuse is not only Raleigh’s water supply, but also its waste disposal system. And there are more communities downstream using this river for their fresh water.
Along the way we see a bald eagle, deer and a great blue heron.
We stop to camp near the N.C. Highway 42 bridge in Clayton. Time to rest up for the next 30+ miles we paddle Monday.