To give you an idea of how high the river was when I went through. Couldn't wait to get to the Cliffs of the Neuse state park so we could get a shower. It was closed due to high water. I think I paddled through the woods to get around log jams as much as I paddled in the river channel. The river was way out of it's banks.You may want to take a look at what is going on at Falls lake as far as when and how much water they release. That would have an effect on water levels and available sandbars.
Neuseway park at Kinston is a very good campground if that would work out with your paddling schedule. It has nice showers. I think there is a website for it, but you may have to look up Kinston/Lenoir County. If you care to eat out, there are restaurants within walking distance.
We call it the MASHES. Had a preacher tell me he saw a lion in the mashes. Now most folks would think that was one of them drinking and dancing preachers that would say such.
I didn't doubt him. I wouldn't doubt there was a lion or even a gorilla in the mashes. I wouldn't doubt there was union calvary in quicksand pits having been lead off by the locals into a trap either. There are stories of such.
Folks that lives in the mashes are called mash rabbits by some folks. They have their own language and dialect. At least the old folks do. A lot of thees and thous, dit, and dat. Four oaks paper used to run a whole page article called life in dis mashes at Christmas every year. If you aint from here it will take you a while to read and comprehend that article because it is written in rabbit-eze. If you are from here...well it will probably take just as long.
Anybody wants to see where the mashes is look at a map. Sartting where the Neuse passes under the I-95 bridge to down abouts Quaker Neck. Look at what that river does in there. Holy cow that is a mess. Notice how few roads and bridges there are in that stretch of river. You can canoe through that place and never hear a dog bark. You get snake bit in there you are toast.
There is land in the mashes that has never been deeded. All you would have to do is get to it with your 4 stakes and lay claim to it. Problem is, that land is probably going to be under water 4 months of the year and there aint no road or easement to it. All you got is the river buddy.