Monday, June 22, 2009

Lake Moomaw - June 2009

Lake Moomaw is the largest lake in the region, over 10 miles long and a couple wide, situated in a narrow valley in Allegheny County, Virginia behind Gathright Dam. Two public beaches are available as well as three concrete boat ramps suitable for large and small boats, plus public campgrounds and a marina. Located a little over an hour away from my southern Shenandoah Valley home, Lake Moomaw is my favorite place to paddle in the region. It's a large lake with a generous amount of open water and countless little coves in which to explore.

Today was a beautiful day with blue skies, puffy white clouds, and enough of a breeze to rig the kayak sail on my 17' Heritage Expedition. I typically visit this lake on a weekday, since big boats are allowed on the lake and weekdays minimize traffic on the water. I chose to put in today at Coles Point, a public beach with double boat ramp near the center of the lake. There are restroom facilities located here, a water fountain, dock, and plenty of parking. A $3 day use fee is required.

In the two hours I was on the water today, I covered only a fraction of the lake. To begin, I explored an old quarry with exposed folded Valley and Range shales, sandstones, and limestones.

I then crossed the open water of the lake to explore a couple of secluded coves. The water in the middle of the lake was choppy with a stiff wind driving the water like a river current. I was able to use my rudder today and stay bow-on to the waves as I crossed the lake, and my Expedition performed like a champ - smooth and stable.

The return trip was downwind, and I enjoyed my Spirit Sail for an extended period of time. The rudder was helpful in combating weathercocking on the following seas and for steering the boat as it sailed downwind. I noted two other kayakers in a nearby cove as I sailed by, but they were quickly left behind as the boat skimmed across the water. The Spirit Sail is at its best in a stiff wind, and I thoroughly enjoyed sailing the boat today.

My two hours on the water were over too quickly, and it was time to pack up and hit the road. Lake Moomaw is remote and secluded, yet large enough to occupy any experienced paddler for several days.

The above picture is looking down at the Jackson River from the top of Gathright Dam.

View this location in Google Maps by clicking here.

1 comment:

Jay Heath said...

Nice description, Steve. I would like to have your expert guidance as I hoist up my Spirit sail. I am reluctant to use it in isolated waters because of a fear of capsize. So, instead of a sense of exhilaration, laughing in the wind, I am more cautious and have tended to use the sail in light breezes only. I'll have to practice sailing on windy days on Lake Alvin. An upset would not be too difficult to deal with on that body of water, or so it seems. I am inspired by your experiences.