Most years, it seems to take forever for summer to arrive. This year, for Leslie and me, it's coming full speed... but we still can't wait! We've been planning and working for several months now to bring Henderson County's first riverside paddle and tubing outfitter to life and with Memorial Day suddenly just around the corner, I thought I'd give you an update on where we stand.
Just a couple of minutes ago I went out to take a photo of our brand new access ramp to the French Broad, built over the last several days by Etowah-based Fowler Excavating and designed by Wildlands Engineering in Asheville. If you've ever taken out at the "informal" access under the bridge at Banner Farm Road you know right where it is, just 100 yards or so upstream. But wow, is it going to be a lot easier to use! We don't know much about engineering so our instruction to the design team was basically "make it as easy to use and as nice-looking as possible" given the requirements in place to protect the river from sediment run-off and any other problems. I think they did a great job! We're at a pretty high point on the bank (no complaints about that when the flood waters rise) but the slope is nice and gentle and it should be really easy to pull out tubes and kayaks.
We also recently acquired the Lazy Ottermobile, a 15-passenger bus that we'll use to shuttle our guests to various upstream put-ins for their float back to our headquarters. We'll take people as far as the Penrose put-in just over the Transylvania County line, which would be about a six-and-a-half hour float back here. Blantyre, which is just this side of the county line, is about five hours upstream. Our guests will be able to paddle at their own pace, since they'll be taking out here right by their cars with no need for another shuttle ride.
What we're really excited about is the new put-in currently under construction by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission on Highway 64 where it crosses the French Broad at Cummings Cove Road. That access is literally just a three-minute bus ride away from us, but because of the shape of the Horse Shoe Bend tubers and paddlers will have a beautiful four-mile, two-hour float downstream back to us. The last update we heard suggests that access should be done by the beginning of July.
We still have a lot to do before we can open for business, and I'll try to keep you updated. We've been hoping to be ready by Memorial Day for trips from Blantyre and Penrose but somehow that's already almost here! If we don't quite make it, hopefully it won't be far behind because we really can't wait to get started!