Monday, May 4, 2009

James River at Alpine - April 2009

Sunshine and temperatures in the 80s and lower 90s during the last few days of April were like a steroid injection for trees, bushes, weeds, and nearly all other vegetation in the southern part of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Hillsides and river banks greened-up in a hurry. I chose one afternoon to paddle on the James River near Alpine for about an hour. The river was quite a bit lower from my earlier paddles on the James this season, but water levels were still comfortably high, and you didn't need to worry about striking a paddle on rocks beneath the surface.

A small dirt road along the river in Alpine provides access to the river in several spots, typically with parking for one or two vehicles. Be prepared to carry or wheel a boat a short distance down to the water. Alpine is a popular location for James River trippers going in or coming out of the river, but it's also a nice location for flatwater paddlers looking for an afternoon paddle. I typically paddle upstream to the first set of rapids and either punch through them to continue upsteam, or if the water is moving quickly like today, turn around and paddle back to the first set of downsteam rapids. A couple of roundtrips between the rapids, plus some poking around time, makes for an hour's paddle.

I came across a new family of geese on the river today. Mom, Dad, and the kids:

Railroad tracks line the river on both sides through Alpine. A crew was working on one line during my time in the water on this day (a comfort in case of trouble), I otherwise had the river to myself, as I usually do.

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

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