Woke up early with the intent to get on the water early. Then I managed to make a 20 minute drive last nearly an hour since I needed gas and I passed the turn twice...then we decided to eat. Anyway, the sunrise was nice.
The put in is just past an abandoned church (Flint Primitive Baptist) off Ryland Pike on Everett Road. There's room to park there as well. Go PAST the church, the lot and put in are on the other side of the fence. I have read reports that sound like people are parking at the church itself.
We only got to the top end of Hays before we had to take out, making it a 13 mile trip instead of a 15 mile trip.
A storm came up out of nowhere-it wasn't on the radar at all and even after we heard thunder, there was nothing.
About 20 minutes later, it was POURING and still thundering. We were paddling SO hard, we were 10 miles in before the weather turned. We did the first 5 miles in 2 hours, we did the last 3 in less than one hour.
The lightning didn't start until the very end, but the water flow had picked up and it made navigation trickier. I was glad to get off the water, I hit that take out, jumped out of the yak and dragged it up the half tube and was standing on my thick rubber mat away from trees before Matt was even off the water. I was not keen on being zapped! Or on saving my husband, it appears. hahahaha!
Still, until the weather changed, it was a great trip!
My one major complaint is that there is a split in the river at the NACK. One way-the way we went-goes to a log jam we had to get out and drag the boats over. The other way I assume goes around the jam, but the signs are AT the junction. As fast as the water was going, we were past it before we read them and even then we assumed it was to sign the take out, like 'turn here if you parked at the NACK'.
So just be aware of that and look on the map if that stretch is in your plans.
It's well worth the trip, check water levels, you want that "gage height, feet" chart to be between 8 and 9 feet. Anything lower and you will drag. Anything higher and you need to have some real whitewater experience. Below the NACK, there's zero maintenance, so there's the risk of being pulled sideways along a submerged tree and then the force of the water pushing your boat UNDER the tree and sometimes keeping it there. This is called a strainer and they can be deadly.
Another hazard along the way were trees across the width of the river, but 3 or so feet above the water level, allowing for ducking under. In very fast water, this is a good way to knock the upper portion of your own head off or just get a really good scrape along exposed areas.
Another thing to watch for is a dimple in the moving water that indicates a rock in shallow water and more likely a stob (the end of a poky branch) in deeper water. Hitting this head-on can flip your boat, or turn it sharply and veer you off course and into the bank or a pile of trees or another paddler. Avoid. It won't take long to be able to read the water and figure out what's an obstacle just under the surface and what's fun and fast water.
A final hazard to watch for are trees dangling in the water, trunks up and visible, limbs hanging in the water. These are called sifters. One of these we went under turned out to be COVERED in poison ivy and it raked us across the arms and face. Others can have branches that reach the bottom of the water and come up covered in mud, or that get trapped and don't come free at all and slamming into a web of leaves isn't fun. Any time it can be avoided, paddle away. If it can't, paddle backward until your boat is slowed down enough to have some control. Plus, spiders and ticks hang out on these branches. :/
The Flint in this stretch is a series of mostly mild riffles, a few faster drops, a TON of downed trees, long stretches of flat paddling, and lots of gravel bars. Toward the end of this run are islands galore and picking your way around can be tedious if it's pouring rain. Otherwise, I am sure it's really fun.
For anyone hesitant to take on the full distance, put in a Ryland and take out at the NACK. Call them and find out the details. They keep that stretch pretty clear of obstacles and it's a fun stretch, too.
Next time, I will put in above Ryland and paddle to that take out, and I want to finish the Flint and go all the way to Ditto Landing. There are 4-5 full day trips to be had on this river and overnight camping is allowed along the stretch we did. I am unsure about the rest of it. Maybe if you put on in the afternoon and then got out before noon the next day. Even with stops, it's a 6-hour stretch. Not really overnight territory.
With the 8 miles we did Saturday and 13 on Monday, that puts me at 62 miles of paddling in a month. Not bad for a fairly sedentary summer. It's HOT!