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Final push! We returned to "Matt's house" in Rodanthe to finish our mission up the coast. We knew we were facing the wild of the water and the wilderness of the OBX... and sure enough our paddle adventure went from lower case "adventure" to full-on all caps. That morning, we parked a car at Promenade Watersports, at the foot of the Wright Memorial Bridge, 40 miles north of our starting point in Rodanthe. We timed it just right so that we would get pulled from the outgoing tide, up from Rodanthe to the Oregon Inlet, hit the Inlet right at slack/low tide, then get pushed the rest of the day by the incoming tide all the way up to Kitty Hawk. It was a great plan. 

We knew we'd be on our own today so we packed the boards for expedition paddling. In our camelbaks we had water, PocketFuel, Clif Shot Bloks, Bonk Breakers, Garden of Life protein bars, Gu, iPhones, and the requisite SPF lip balm. Under the bungees, we had extra water, a "lunch box" with turkey and avocado sandwiches, a leash for the Inlet, and a map mounted with "I love bacon" duct tape. The paddle up to the Inlet was spectacular... the Pea Island Refuge is a very special place... it is what we both envisioned of the Outer Banks... wildlife, wildlands, wading birds and a piece of our coast well worth preserving. We didn't get the "pull" up as we anticipated until we got to the Bonner Bridge and the opening of the Inlet when we finally hit 6.5-7.0 mph. Was fun, albeit short lived. Pretty soon, we hit a shoal and literally walked/waded our way to the Inlet. 

Once back on the boards, we learned that "slack tide" in the Oregon Inlet is a farce. The water was still gushing out and at one point, our Garmins read 0.0 mph, there was a guy in a yellow Chris-Craft boat fishing with his motor off, and drifting at a rapid rate straight towards us, other boats whizzing by with massive wake, and the water below us swirling as if we had just turned on the jets in the hot tub. Only one option here: paddle, paddle, paddle. It was survival mode for a few minutes, and once on the other side, we both breathed a great sigh, gave ourselves a little praise and kept moving. For the next 15-20 miles, we expected that the switch in tides would get us going pretty fast but it seemed like the water kept gushing against us. It's a bit of a mental blow when its after 1pm, we have 30 miles to go and our mph speeds are in the 3's. 

Nonetheless, we enjoyed our paddle past Bodie Island and the lighthouse there... got an extended look as we hit another shallow shoal and did some more walking. We paddled up the Roanoke Sound, stopped for lunch on the beach of a tiny little island (our lunch and snack stops in the middle of the wet wilderness will be a special memory from this adventure), then on to the 64 bridge. It was a long hot day, and we were feeling the effects of the heat, dehydration, and having to ration our fluid intake, so we hailed down a boat and pled for extra water - and like everyone else on this trip, they seemed excited to offer a respite and talk about how much they love our coast. 

Once past the 64 bridge, we left the Roanoke Sound, paddled across the Albemarle Sound, past the kiters off Jockey's Ridge and the Wright Brothers National Memorial, and then got pushed into Kitty Hawk Bay by the wind and for hours paddled to "the never ending point," around which we could finally see the Wright Memorial Bridge. We were starting to lose daylight, but got an extra lift after we tucked in around the point, out of the wind, and past a big tent party on the water with a live band playing old punk favorites. We rolled into Promenade Watersport around 8:30, which I'm sure in the daytime is a lovely place. At night, trying to navigate our boards up steps, around algae covered swamps, over a driving range and to our car, with the thought of gators and the full awareness of mosquitoes... creepy at best. We called Jack Crouch with Outer Banks Paddleboard, who had graciously offered a place to stay and with pits in our stomachs, we told him that we had to drive back to Rodanthe to pick up our other car and wouldn't arrive at his house after 11PM, and would leave again at 5AM to finish our last day. Jack didn't blink twice, welcomed us into his home, had water and electrolytes waiting, a warm shower and beds, and breakfast on the counter for in the morning. What a special person and what a special community of which we are all a part. 

35ish miles to go!! So close. 

 


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