Voices of Rivers

There are a lot of things I love about rivers and a lot of things I love to do on rivers but I think highest on my list is the extended river trip. For me, there is nothing like putting in at a location, preferably as close to the headwaters as possible, and paddling or floating for several days experiencing the change in the character of the river with every drop in gradient, tributary, and bend. The first day or two is always a bit hectic; figuring out to best stow your gear, setting up camp, breaking camp, etc.  With each day you become more efficient, more comfortable; you begin to go with the flow.  This river vibe was apparent to me when I joined a group of 11 students and 2 professors from Brevard College to paddle a short section of the Wateree River in South Carolina.  They were on day 10 of trip paddling the entire Catawba/Wateree Rivers which starts near Linville Gorge, NC, and will end in the Atlantic Ocean over 400 miles downstream near Charleston, SC. 

This grand journey is the Brevard College Voices of the Rivers Program: May 16 – June 2, 2009. The Voice of the Rivers experience—which combines academics with outdoor exploration—is designed to educate the public and raise awareness of activities that threaten rivers; bring attention to organizations and groups poised to address those threats; and foster a sense of stewardship and community activity among the students who participate.  Their choice of the Catawba/Wateree Rivers for the 2009 trip was in part inspired by American Rivers’ listing of the Catawba as the nation’s most endangered river in 2008.

On June 6th, National Trails Day, American Rivers along with several partners will dedicate the Wateree River Blue Trail.  The trail extends from immediately below Lake Wateree Dam to the confluence with the Congaree River.  The goal of the project is to connect communities along the river to the natural, recreational, economic and cultural values of this wild 80 mile stretch of river and to inspire them to protect it for future generations.  Following a short dedication ceremony we will paddle the same section of the Wateree I paddled the other day with the “Voices of Rivers” team.  If you are in the area, you are welcome to come join us at 10:00 am below the dam.