Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Maury River at Glasgow - October 2008

The town of Glasgow, Virginia offers a public boat ramp at the confluence of the Maury and James Rivers. I arrived at the access ramp on a cloudy, cool October day, with a few light sprinkles failing on the water, to check out the 1/4-1/2 of flatwater on the Maury River upstream of the Class III rapid that marks the confluence with the James River.

The access ramp is steep and rutted, but it was no match for my fat kayak wheels. I wouldn't recommend attempting the pitch with a vehicle, however. There is also access to the James River down a footpath a little ways. But the riverbank is steep, making access to the James a difficult proposition for any boat larger than you can carry on your shoulder.

There is a large rock garden at the confluence of the two rivers. When water levels are higher, this is a Class III rapid. Today, however, the water is very low, and it's not possible to run the rapid. It is possible, instead, to poke around the garden by boat or on foot.

Upstream of the rock garden is a short stretch of deep flatwater. When water levels are as low as they were today, it only takes a few minutes to reach the first upstream set of rapids, and it was not possible to paddle through them. If the water were about foot higher, then it would probably be easy to paddle through these rapids and continue upstream.

This section of the river has an exposed sandy cut bank, something of a rarity in these parts, given all the sedimentary rock outcrops, and it reminds me of my days paddling in eastern South Dakota on the Missouri River, Big Sioux River, and Vermillion River.

I did about two 'laps' on the river, between the rapids, before getting out of the boat at the confluence of the rivers and exploring the rock garden.

I was reminded to watch where I put my hands when scrambling over the boulders; I encountered one of the largest spiders I think I've ever seen. I didn't have the guts to get close enough to put any 'scale' into the picture, but trust me, it's big!

The rock garden is large, and it's pretty easy to hop across the river from boulder to boulder. This next picture shows part of the rock garden at the confluence of the rivers, with the James River in the distance as it heads downstream through a cut in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

This section of the Maury is scenic and interesting, but the small amount of flatwater is only worth it for local paddlers. View and listen to a short (15 second) video clip of the rapid at the confluence of the rivers.

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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