• Happy World Photography Day!

Hometown Runs: A Few Words, A Few Photos

Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
193
Reaction score
18
The last few weeks have been wet here in central Virginia. Several days of rain in our already saturated Blue Ridge have given the creeks and rivers a nice stable base layer allowing them to maintain boatable water flows for days on end. Even higher up on the mountains. Daytime temperatures this weekend were in the fifties and near sixty (F) even up at 2,000 feet, where we were paddling another one of our classic Virginia rivers: The Maury.

View attachment nv9IqbODccwCBvvFe5_8UvNLbhCLP81iQPWiq2trnlMsWiuETSQaPX0sfwPviYe0zIZtGRxoXuoHRVG0EffyxqdSsHCXTGTMRHj4

The Maury tumbles down through pastoral Rockbridge County and starts with a bit of a bang (the phrase Gun, With Occasional Music, comes to mind, which, incidentally, is the title of a fun little detective novel in that film noir kind of spirit) before the river slows its pace and starts meandering down through some rolling hills over delightful gravel bars to the town of Glasgow on the James River. You can paddle forty some odd miles on the Maury, portage two dams, cross under two interstate highways, paddle through an Urban park in the historic city of Lexington, Virginia, and then skirt the old factory town of Buena Vista before finally spilling into the James River at the town of Glasgow. At the top, up near the one-time-town of Goshen, the river cuts a scenic path through some fairly rugged hills in what is called "Goshen Pass." For boaters, this means about five miles of rather continuous boulder gardens and rock ledges that form short pools in between fairly busy drops. I like to pack a drybag and amply loaded cooler and run the entire river down into the James and then turn left and run the James down through the mountains that can feel to all the world like folded blankets in the snow. I can paddle it in two days with one night on the river, but I like to take three and camp the second night on the beach at Balcony Falls. We call this section of the James River "Balcony," or "Balcony Falls," named after the little Class III-ish rapid where many whitewater paddlers have cut their teeth. This section of the James has the distinct advantages of running most of the year, being short enough to jog my own shuttle, and being 25 minutes from home. During the long days of summer we will often converge on Balcony after work, or meet after dark and boat under the full moon with glowsticks wrapped around our paddles to keep from losing them in the black water.

View attachment 7Y9pPBr-0wa30_CKLPCDlHZio3Z_Up366jmOtH9i1SnvpqROt2VgnafpsT1tqfMU0xdYionaop1wYKoRR82OY1gDi5uqLa-MfPlF

At Snowden, I normally take out in front of the Bedford Dam, at the Game and Inland Fisheries ramp on river left. The Bedford Dam is the first dam to harness the power of the James River in the sixty-six miles it has flowed since Iron Gate, where the Jackson and Cowpasture Rivers come together to form Virginia's historic river. Unfortunately, Bedford Dam is the first in a series of seven dams that essentially kill the James River between Snowden and Lynchburg, where I currently live. Thirty-one river miles and seven dams separate Lynchburg from Snowden, and sometimes we dream, deep in our pints, like vigilantes of the earth, of taking out a few of them late at night and letting the river run free once again.


View attachment 4vSK3TLUCk82mpLRm_o2uDcEhfC_xtJKhH-vqLumT18zN8PkNSqjFTZuHzOss4sVrIIcuUDw61MO23Xiog1wX_oSvN6RbJ0fKWaW

But these sorts of urban backyard runs like Balcony, or the Maury, or the Tye, or the Pedlar, while certainly not wilderness runs or miles off the beaten path, offer some remarkable sights of their own in between the interstate highways and vacation homes. I paddle quite a bit in central Virginia and have come to very much enjoy the good nature of our many waterways. And while I am always planning my next 16-day trip to the other side of the country, or staring googly-eyed at the Moise up where many of those beautiful wilderness rivers lie in wait, these classic rivers of Virginia will always hold some special place to me, and I will keep running to them for as long as I am able.

View attachment vzpQ0yQ88kUJyqPcO5gzAT-bIXPSFkiXfv_pB4XlJlkcj-vBXAhM8q1KCDxfr3u4ta6NaWwXELXRzvIDGNPow0ny0fIgUbr9wc-5
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
193
Reaction score
18
It does allow working stiffs like myself to get in my boat at least once a week. More in the spring/summer, which has finally, blessedly, arrived. The official beginning of warm weather boating, for myself, is my first springtime trip to the New River in WV. I'm hoping that happens in the next few weeks...
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2016
Messages
178
Reaction score
1
Location
White Mountains Arizona
The after work trips were the scene when we lived in Bozeman, MT. We mostly did the Gallatin River because it's just plain fun :- )
 
Last edited:
Top