Friday, June 26, 2009


Yesterday (today too) was one of those lazy, hazy summer days just right for being on a river. We didn't have a full day, but my son and I found time for a lazy 4 hour kayak trip from Bridgewater to east of Mt. Crawford on North River. Some of the streams that I've cited for bacteria and sediment - Mossy Creek and Long Glade Run - flow into North River near Bridgewater. North River is part of the South Fork of the Shenandoah River watershed. So, I was naturally interested in conditions along the river. My impressions are not in any way scientific observations.
The water was green and cool at the put-in and, because of rains a few weeks ago, was up a little more than typical for the first days of summer. We were in sit-on-top kayaks so our butts were basically in the water and we dipped our feet and arms in frequently. The flow rate was good and the riffles fun. Oops - an early set of riffles went through a stainer - low branches in the water - and my son lost his fishing pole. Oh well, it was a cheap one. Lesson learned - tie it on.
I was interested in fish and wildlife that we'd observe and the general quality of the water and the banks:
  • Fish - we saw no fish of any significant size either darting underwater or breaking surface. Only a few fingerlings jumping.
  • Turtles - we only saw two turtles sunning themselves.
  • Birds - lots of smaller birds such as Kingfishers and your typical backyard and farmland birds in the Shenandoah Valley. At the beginning of the trip we observed several small flocks of ducks. Just before reaching the bridge at Mt. Crawford we played tag with a Heron until it backtracked and returned upstream. Not many birds were spotted as we passed under Rt. 11 and I-81 - guess the traffic noise keeps them away. As we put some distance between us and the roads, we spotted a Bald Eagle who circled back over us and wasn't seen again. Near the take-out we trailed behind a dozen Canadian Geese.
  • Water quality - the water was clear with a slightly greenish tint. Little suspended sediment observed. In some areas there was considerable plant growth. This is a sign of nutrients in the water along with the warmth of summer and sun overhead. But, I have no comparison with the same time in previous years.
We had the river mostly to ourselves. There were some folks heading out on tubes when we left a vehicle at the take-out, but we never saw them again. About halfway into the float, some teenage Mennonite girls were using a rope swing and dropping into a deep hole of cool water. No bathing suits for them - they were all in their long dresses. Quite a contrast from the young babe in a tiny thong I saw at Daytona Beach a couple weeks ago - America, with all its diversity, is a great country!

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