Friday, October 3, 2008

James River at Snowden - October 2008

The Snowden boat ramp on the James River in Virginia provides access to about a mile of flatwater behind the Snowden Dam. See my previous posts about this location for details. I arrived on a beautiful Friday afternoon for a couple of hours of paddling upstream into the first set or two of rapids, while enjoying the changing colors on the steep slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

There was a large group of students on a school trip coming off the James River as I put in. They had been on the river for the past three days and intended to spend the following four days on the Appalachian Trail, which also crosses the river at this spot. I otherwise had the river to myself today. I brought along my 17' Heritage Expedition for this cruise, and it made quick work of the flatwater section of the river.

As you travel upstream, you first paddle through a flooded rock garden. It's here where you see many turtles sunning on the rocks, fish in the clear water, and crayfish. The water is generally deep enough to permit plenty of poking around. Traveling upsteam, the water shallows out. Depending on water levels, it's possible to paddle upstream through the first two or three sets of rapids.

Today, however, the water was low, and portaging would be required to continue upstream.

I instead prefer to get out of the boat and walk around on the rocks exploring, sitting, and enjoying the view. This part of the river is remote, and there is but a single railroad track on one side of the river to occasionally break the silence and solitude.

This part of the James River offers a decent amount of flatwater for the sea kayaker, and the scenery is spectacular. It's one of my favorite spots to kayak. View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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