Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pedlar River below Lynchburg Reservoir - May 2009

Just below Pedlar Dam, which impounds Lynchburg Reservoir - Lynchburg, Virginia's primary water supply, lies a small stretch of flatwater on the Pedlar River. I arrived this afternoon to explore this part of river after scouting the location during yesterday's rain. The available flatwater here is limited to a 400 yard section between two rapids, just beneath the Appalachian Trail suspension bridge that crosses the river at this point.

Today I chose the use the first kayak I ever owned - an inflatable 10' Sevylor Tahiti K79 kayak. It's been years since I used this kayak, but I've been wanting a boat that is easier to carry and smaller than my 14' Heritage - a boat that I'm able to carry a moderate distance over variable terrain to get back and explore small creeks & streams. The Tahiti fits that bill perfectly.

With relatively high water levels, the Pedlar was about 1-2 feet deep through here and crystal clear. The short section of flatwater allows for a couple of 'laps' between rapids and some poking around space, but that's really about it. I spent about 30 minutes on the water before packing up and leaving.

While the inflatable Tahiti makes it easy to get into and explore creeks like the Pedlar, it offers a different paddling experience than a traditional kayak. It's very lightweight and easy to carry, it holds a lot of gear, and it's the most stable kayak I've ever paddled. The kayak turns on a dime, much faster than my Heritage kayaks are capable of turning, and it has an extremely shallow draft, maybe two inches at most. I'm always amazed at the amount of shallow water I'm able to explore with this kayak.

On the downside, the boat is more susceptible to wind gusts and water currents. Without the optional skeg, the boat weathercocks very easily when you stop paddling. You also sit down closer to the waterline in this boat, and with the large sponsons, your padding stroke is not as efficient.

As I mentioned earlier, the Appalachian Trail crosses the river here via a wooden suspension bridge.

Parking is available near the bridge for only two vehicles.

This is a nice stretch of river for a little bit of poking around, but it's too limited for any serious paddling, and I wouldn't recommend anyone drive too far to find it (swimming is not allowed). Persons should also be prepared to travel several miles on narrow, rocky, and sometimes muddy gravel roads to reach this location.

Watch a short, 15 second, video of water cascading over the first downstream rapid from the bridge:

View this location in Google Maps clicking here.

1 comment:

Jay Heath said...

Steve, I think that sometimes these little-paddled stretches provide time to observe the landscape and the life along and in the river. While it isn't shooting down death defying rapids, it is a peaceful few minutes alone within the setting, and that is something in itself to value.