Wednesday, September 10, 2008

James River at Gillmore Mills - September 2008

A fisherman's trail provided access to the James River near Gillmore Mills today for about 30 minutes of paddling on a cloudy, cool day with temperatures holding in the mid-60s. This access point is relatively close to my home, and I've been meaning to check it out.

However, access to the river is tight and contains a couple of steep rocky sections that even my fat wheels had trouble negotiating, and there is parking on the main road for only a couple of vehicles. After scouting the location, I decided to give it a shot and pushed, shoved, and wheeled the boat down to the water. My 14' Heritage Sea Dart weighs about 58 pounds empty; access points like this make me wish I also had a smaller, lighter 9' boat that I could just carry.

This stretch of the James runs through a couple of small Class I rapids that are easy enough to paddle through, either upstream or downstream flanked by two short sections of shallow flatwater. I shared the water with three men fishing today, one in a fishing kayak, and the other two on pontoon-style river row boats.

The riffles and rapids make this location good for practicing your ferry technique, on the upstream side and also downstream, and exercise is accomplished by powering upstream through the rapids and floating back down.

However, the flatwater sections are short and shallow - given the current water level - so much paddle scraping was done on the water today. This access point would make a good take-out or put-in spot for people traveling on the river, but access is difficult, and the amount of flatwater limited, for a casual afternoon paddle.

Listen to a short 15 second clip of the Class I rapids:

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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