Friday, August 22, 2008

James River at Arcadia Landing - August 2008

Today was a beautiful day in the Valley, so I decided to head out to Arcadia boat landing on the James River with my smaller 14' Heritage Sea Dart. The boat access here is primitive with space for about a dozen vehicles, but only carry-down access to the river and no facilities.

When I arrived, there were two recreational kayakers coming off the river, and I waved to three canoes passing on their way farther downriver. Otherwise, I had the water to myself. This river access requires you to carry your boat over a bar of rocks (see picture) and put in as you wade into the water. I sometimes just carry my kayak from the car down to the water, other times, like today, I use my fat wheels, which have no problem negotiating the smooth rocks. It is possible to unload about half way down to the water from the parking area, but if you do, four wheel drive is recommended - the hill is much steeper than it appears in the picture.

The river access point drops you right in the middle of a mild Class I riffle, and you can either paddle upstream or down. I typically choose to paddle upstream until I encounter the first set of rapids, then turn around and float down past the boat landing, continuing downsteam until I encounter the next set of rapids.

The current is usually gentle enough to paddle in either direction. Water visibility is perfect, meaning that you can see the bottom of the river in nearly any location. I noticed that the water level in the river is several inches lower than when I visited Arcadia in June, exposing several rocks and ledges. Fortunately, the water is clear enough to see shallow rocks and edges so one can alter their paddling stoke and avoid striking them.

While some of this is typical of the latter half of the summer season, this particular summer has been very dry - my weather station recorded just over 2 inches of rain in June, 3.4 inches in July, and only 0.6 so far this August. Many of us are secretly hoping that the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay sit over us and rain out next week.

As summer winds to a close, it's possible to see fall color just beginning to appear in the trees. I spent about 45 minutes or so on the water before it was time to pack up and head home. I highly recommend Arcadia Landing for those looking for a quick paddle, and I intend to return here at least one more time before the paddling season is over.

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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