Saturday, December 12, 2009

The North Anna River 12-11-09

Falls Line Rapids

This river is one I have been wanting to check out for a while. I had been looking at the USGS Streamflow Data for the past few months , checking every week, no change,un-runnable. It is a dam release stream so it can rise and fall really dramatically in a matter of minutes.
This is the upstream gage @ the dam

So after jacking up to also 5,000 cfs the river had dropped back 1,200 upstream/1,800 cfs downstream.
It seemed like an ideal time to go check it out (knowing that i had only seen pictures of the biggest rapid @54cfs). We got a crew of Jon, Chris, and myself, we headed out @ 8:30 am after 1 broken down truck and a hearty breakfast. It was still below freezing as we got to the put-in at Route 1 South of Carmel Church, but the river was flowing. We loaded up again to do the quick shuttle to 601 put-in on Hewlett Rd ( nice little wave here @ this level.). We paid our dues and put in with the sun shining and the frost still glistening in the trees.

The first part of the run there was sections of Class I and II rapids mixed with some flat water. There were a few fun waves and holes , but nothing huge. There is alot of choice of lines and the river braids several times to give you some different options. The flat water here really just gave you a chance to relax and take in the scenery between whitewater sections. We saw a bald eagle, 2 bucks in the woods hanging out, and later we saw one swimming across the river in front of us (being chased by two hunting dogs)!

The upper had fun sections but as we got 4 or 5 miles into the trip we started to hit some nice long sections of whitewater. In this section (river left) there was a fun really fast class III , one of my favorite drops that sucked you down about 4 ft then shot you back up and out and to river right quick. Wish I had gotten pics of that one. After those next few rapids and a little flatwater we quickly came up on Falls Line Rapid.

Upper Section of Falls Line Rapids

Falls Line Rapid is no joke at these levels! The far right looked good , very big continuous whitewater with a but bunch of nasty looking holes. The middle line was a sloping rapid into a ledge drop about 3' or so then into a quick pool and then into the last section of big waves and nice big drop at the end. We chose to hit the far left line which was a nice entry rapid and then eddy up and drop down a big rockslide /chute.
Falls Line Rapid- River Left -Rocklide/Chute Drops 6'

Chris was the first to drop in and run the line, made it clean and signaled for us to come through. Jon eddied up and dropped in , all good.

Jon W. setting up and dropping in.

I followed last , clean through the first section and then eddied up to get ready to drop in. As I took a hard stroke to ferry into the drop I felt myself getting pushed hard toward the right of the drop and the overhanging log. I took another hard stroke on the right and straightened out and shot out the bottom.

Matt Mens setting up and dropping in.

I hung out there in the pool at the bottom for a minute and regrouped. While I was sitting there i realized the pool was filled with rainbow trout ( i think). I mean full , I could have reached in and grabbed arms fulls of fish.

We all portaged across the island to hit the last drops of the main rapid and then continued on. Cruising down past the cliffs with huge icicles hanging off of them and tons of mountain laurel and ferns made the last section really nice. We took out at 12:45 after 3 hours on the river and a 9.5 mile trip. It made for a great winter day and personal first descent for all of us. I would like to make it back again when the levels are good , try out some of the other options we missed hitting. Thanks again Jon W. and Chris S.( we'll get some pics of you next time).

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