My favourite places on earth are the wild waterways where the forest opens its arms and a silver curve of river folds the traveller into its embrace.

~ Rory MacLean

This is the second post on our recent canoe/camping trip in eastern North Carolina (see previous post here). We departed the Cypress Cathedral camping platform on Wednesday and headed downstream on Broad Creek to the Roanoke River. Ospreys, eagles, and the sometimes surprisingly close splashes of Longnose Gar were our travel companions until we reached the wide river and sought out the Bear Run camping platform for a lunch break (we knew no one had it registered so we didn’t mind stopping at the dock to stretch our legs).

-View of the Roanoke River from the Bear Run platform dock

We then headed across the river to a shortcut to the Cashie River known as the Thoroughfare. Emerging into the lower Cashie, I was surprised at how wide this black water river is at that point. With virtually no current, it is an easy paddle upstream. The Cashie is about 20 miles in length and is one of the few rivers in NC to be contained in a singe county (Bertie).

One of the best-known features of life along the Cashie is the inland ferry at Sans Souci. In operation since the 1800’s, this small ferry crosses the Cashie and connects some rural roads that save drivers an estimated 20 miles. It is operated by a cable that runs across the river. We spoke to the ferry captain and he said there had been 5 cars over that morning (which is about the norm apparently). When a car wants to cross from the other side, the driver must honk their horn and the ferry will cross to get them. It has been run by the state’s Dept. of Transportation since the 1930’s and is one of three cable ferries still in operation in the state.

-The Sans Souci Ferry

Upstream of Sans Souci, the river begins to narrow and the arms of the swamp reach out to embrace paddlers in its spring green and black waters. We reached our final camping platform, Lost Boat, and set up camp. It was another quiet evening with lots of bird sounds and a Raccoon eyeing us as it climbed a tree across the creek.

-Swamp Queen rustling up some dinner at Lost Boat (a dehydrated Asian-flavored noodle dish that she came up with on a previous outing and that continues to be a favorite)

The Cashie impressed us with the relative lack of signs of human activity and the large number of immense Bald Cypress trees on its banks.

-One of many huge cypress trees that dominate the shoreline of the beautiful Cashie River. I love the way converting to black and white highlights the distinctive shapes of these ancient trees

-After our recent trip paddling the Black River with its very old cypress trees, I wonder about the age of some of these giants along the Cashie

-Many of the trunks and branches of the cypress trees are festooned with Resurrection Ferns. This fern looks brown and shriveled in dry weather, and then “resurrects” into green foliage for a few days when it rains

-One of the many eagles we saw along our journey. This not-yet-mature Bald Eagle (it takes about 5 years to acquire the full white head and tail feathers) was uncharacteristically patient with us and allowed us to paddle past fairly close without flying.

-Another eagle with a fully white head and tail takes flight as we approach

-I was somewhat surprised that we saw more Osprey, including this impressive nest, on the Cashie portion of our trip

An immature eagle and an adult were chasing each other ahead of us at one point along the river. It turns out they were not far from an Osprey nest. An Osprey took offense and started to chase the eagles. The adult flew off but the juvenile continued to circle above the river, much to the displeasure of the Osprey. It repeatedly dive-bombed the eagle. It was fascinating to watch this interaction and the acrobatic abilities of both birds, especially the eagle, as it barrel-rolled to face the incoming threat. These photos were taken at quite a distance and heavily cropped.

-Both birds have talons out as the Osprey closes in on the eagle

-An impressive roll-over defensive move, but the eagle finally had enough and flew off

-Crossvine was in bloom all along the river

-Prothonotary Warblers were also abundant on the Cashie

-Azaleas (maybe Pinxter?) in bloom along the upper reaches of the Cashie

-The four Cashie River Treehouses in Windsor offer a unique overnight for people wanting to experience the beauty of the Cashie River

We managed to get out the day before the big storm blew through and enjoyed incredible weather on our only slightly shortened journey of 5 days on two magical rivers. We experienced quiet beauty, amazing wildlife (birds, birds, birds), majestic trees, blue skies, and wonderful camping platforms. I can’t say enough about this place. The Swamp Queen and I will be back for sure.

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