The Kayak Chronicles ©

by Darren Caffery

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Paddling the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Colington Island to Currituck Sound via Kitty Hawk Woods Maritime Forest

 Monday, May 20, 2002

   

Our first day in the Outer Banks of North Carolina was spent paddling from Colington Island to the Currituck Sound.  Colington Island is on the Roanoke sound side of the barrier island just west of Kill Devil Hills and between Kitty Hawk to the North and Nags Head to the South.  Tom Kelly, Ray Brower and I launched on the north side of Colington Island at 9:30 am into the wind protected waters of Blounts Bay.  Air temps were only in the mid 60’s (a bit cooler than the avg for this time of year) and winds were mild.  We paddled northward up past Sloop Island and into more open wind prone waters of the Kitty Hawk Bay.  After a three quarter mile crossing of the bay we paddled to the west of Hog Island and into the more wind protected and tranquil waters of High Bridge Creek (also known as Ginguite Creek) which lies largely within the Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve and Maritime Forest.

     

     

     

Jean Guite Creek runs along the Outer Bank’s Bodie Island for about 6 miles, making a connection between Currituck Sound near Southern Shores in the north and Kitty Hawk Bay off Albemarle Sound near Kitty Hawk in the south. The creek is fairly protected from wind by a dune system on the coast. It offers a paddling trip through a maritime deciduous swamp, forest, and marsh. It also offers the chance to explore more open water at the ends of the creek. The Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve manages 1,350 acres. South of US 158, most of the land along Jean Guite Creek is within the reserve. It contains a great diversity of wildlife, birds, and rare plants. As we entered the creek we immediately began to see wildlife. Our first spotting was of a red fox, then we saw plenty of nutria which look like a cross between a large muskrat and an otter.  In the 4 mile stretch of the creek and forest we also saw a pileated woodpecker, a yellow warbler, raccoons and a black water snake scurrying to the shore with its head up out of the water as we approached.  While eating lunch near a covered bridge we chatted with two women riding horses on a trail and also watched a rather large water moccasin slither atop the water past our boats and under the bridge.

       

        

    

As we paddled the creek under Route 158, we approached an area where two local attack swans are notorious for ambushing paddlers, however I was glad  we didn’t spot them. We later found out from a local person that late last year, the swans mysteriously ‘disappeared’ from the creek.  They  were reportedly ‘relocated’ to another less paddled area.  As we paddled northward, the creek widens and becomes Ginguite Bay right before the Currituck Sound.  On the western shore, we admired some very large waterfront homes of the gated community of Martin’s Point.  We also watched osprey flying overhead with fish in their talons.  Entering the Ginguite Bay, we encountered some strong headwinds which made paddling the last mile to the Currituck Sound more challenging.  We were determined, however  to make it to Mill Point where we could have a beautiful  vista of the open and shallow Currituck Sound which was raging in the progressively increasing winds.  We landed on a small peninsula at Mill Point to relax, stretch our legs and enjoy the view for a while before we returned on our 9 mile paddle back to Colington Island. We kept a steady paddling pace all the way back and landed at about 6 pm.  The total trip for the day was almost 18.5 miles.

After showering and cleaning ourselves up, Ray, his wife Sue, Tom and myself met up with Bob Smith who arrived in the OBX earlier in the day and joined us for dinner at a very nice local eatery called the Colington Café. The café was an old house that had been converted to a restaurant.  We were seated upstairs in a small intimate room with one other party at a table which looked out over the woods of the island.  For almost two hours, and over a nice dinner, drinks and some laughs, we discussed our day’s adventure and our paddling plans for the next few days. After dinner as we went downstairs, we realized the place was completely empty.  We had closed the joint and a great day on Colington Island.

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