Brady Jug on Way to Atlantic
This year's Charles E. Brady Memorial Paddle will last longer and go farther.
father and son are carrying the Brady jug all the way to the sea. On April 4, runners brought the jug from Bear Creek's headwaters to a recreational area by the bridge where N.C. 705 -- the Pottery Highway -- crosses the Bear Creek. It's where Saturday's 2009 Adventure Bearathlon will take place.
This annual bringing-down of clear water mirrors a historic journey taken by Charles Brady, a Robbins Eagle Scout, doctor and astronaut, long before he became flight surgeon to the Blue Angels, or flew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia.
Brady wanted to make a point about polluted rivers in North Carolina. To do this, he filled a jug at the headwaters of the Haw River and paddled with it downstream showing people along the river's route to the sea what clean water looked like -- water they could have flowing past their own riverbanks if they cleaned the Haw.
That cleanup movement took hold and continues today. Every year, his Robbins hometown remembers Brady with another jug, another paddle.
"At noon we had like a picnic," Tom Israel said. "We had free kayak and canoe instruction for anybody that showed up, anyone that wanted it. Then there was a 'rubber duck' release for children. Kids paddled out to retrieve ducks to win prizes. Each one that turned in a duck to Lynn McDuffie came back with a prize."
The more ducks, the more prizes. This first April in Saturday was actually a rain date, since rain the previous weekend had forced a postponement.
All the events of the day led to a (more-or-less) formal Bear Creek Headwaters ceremony below the bridge below the town. Dr. William McDuffie handed the Israels a jug his daughter had filled that morning with clean, clear water drawn from headwaters of Bear Creek.
Runners carried the jug relay-style to Deep River Coffee Co. in the heart of Robbins. From there, McDuffie (who has been one of the runners) brought it down the hill past the Old Elise Depot and across the Bear Creek Bridge to the picnic area and put-in place beneath. Handing it over to Tom and Aaron Israel, he made a solemn pronouncement.
"Clean water from the headwaters of Bear Creek continues its trip to the ocean," McDuffie said.
The Israels carefully carried this year's jug back to their car for safekeeping, then returned and joined others for a tranquil float trip down the Bear. In this case, the tranquil float was preceded by an energetic group paddle upstream before turning to float tranquilly back downstream.
Israel has spent most of his life in one area or another of law enforcement. He started as a state wildlife officer in Durham County and later joined the Pinehurst Police Department. After three years there, Israel was appointed as a magistrate. He served five and a half years before resigning, going to barber college and becoming a registered barber.
"I am a stay-at-home dad now," Israel said. "I home-school our daughter Melissa and our younger boy, Vincent, who is 8. Aaron is 15, and we will make this eight-day trip together."
On Saturday, Israel and his son left home early heading for a Deep River put-in spot just on the other side of Sanford.
"Aaron and I will paddle down the Deep to Mermaid's Point," he said. "Haw meets Deep right there and forms the Cape Fear River."
Father and son have allotted eight days for the paddle, but hope to complete their watery journey sooner. With luck, by today ( Wednesday), they will be on the Atlantic shore with the Brady jug of water from the Bear.
"We are going to attempt to do it in five days," he said. "If we do, we'll be back in Robbins on the banks of the Bear for next week's Adventure Bear-athlon."
Their canoe weighs only 80 pounds. However, that does not include the weight of supplies.
"We are taking 300 pounds of supplies," Israel said. "We don't plan to be resupplied anywhere along the 200 miles of this trip."
At the end of the trip, father and son will reach the sea at Southport.
"Aaron and I will paddle out to the beach at Fort Caswell," he said. "There we'll beach our canoe and wade out to where the breakers are and pour the clean, clear Bear Creek water into the Atlantic."
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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