05/29/09 — Paddlers get up-close view

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Paddlers get up-close view

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on May 29, 2009 1:46 PM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- A group of nine travelers set sail from the boat launch in Seven Springs for a day of fun in the sun as part of the 2009 Tour de Neuse on Friday.

Led by Neuse Riverkeeper Larry Baldwin, the group kayaked its way to Kinston and met a second group of paddlers. They proceeded to New Bern as part of the 23-mile segment.

"This is a long leg of the journey today," Baldwin. "I am not sure that everyone here understands exactly how far 23 miles is in a kayak."

Armed with bottles of sunscreen and insect repellent, the group unloaded its gear and launched in the early morning hours in order to get a head start on the heat.

"This tour has been a great way for me to see the river in its entirety," said Baldwin. "We have had a lot of fun and we have learned a lot during the trip."

The section of river that runs through Wayne County was broken into three separate stages due to its challenging layout. The river provided its share of excitement during the local paddle, but mother nature tossed the kayakers the wildest curveball.

"During the stretch from Alan Daly camp ground to Seven Springs it was really raining," said Baldwin. "It wasn't very warm to begin with, but when the wind picked up and the rain started, it really got cold. We were all glad that stretch of river was only seven miles."

The month-long event, which spans 186 miles of river, ends with Neuse River Day at Union Park in New Bern on Saturday. The annual event will feature an eight-mile paddle race, live band, several local vendors and a rubber duck derby.

A run sponsored by the Merci Clinic will kick off the day's events at 7:30 a.m.

The tour officially ends Sunday with a flotilla from New Bern to Oriental.

"It's important to get out and promote events on the river," said Baldwin. "People need to understand that the river is a nature resource that we all share and we are all responsible for."