Paddling the North Fork of the Shenandoah River

Saturday, we decided to paddle down the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.  We went with friends and shared the car pickup and dropoff.  We got in near 211 just past the Shenandoah Academy and planned on getting out at Meem’s Bottom Covered Bridge.  None of us really knew anything about this section.  But we thought the water is high and normally the north fork is low on water so now is the time.

I like to always have one piece of advice in each blog.  Today, it is never follow a kayaker in a canoe.  We (I) busted our kayak slamming into a rock last year so we took the canoe. Well the kayaker we followed said “go this way, this way” we went that way, went over a foot high drop and slammed nose first into another rock about the size of a volkswagen and half a foot above water line.  Suffice it to say, over we went and out of the boat the humans tumbled.  Jill immediately started looking in the water for Bilbo as I quickly righted the boat.  Well somehow Bilbo was still in the boat wondering why we jumped out–stupid Hoomans.  Lesson, always pick your own line

The river was beautiful.  Unlike the south fork, the banks were almost always straight up and anywhere between 10 and 50 feet tall.  And since the river is pretty narrow, visually (except for a few houses) it felt very much like it must have felt through time immemorial–from the stone age through Jefferson.  But the sounds of civilization always crept over the bank.  Of course, going under roads is normal in this part of the country, but paddling under a majorly busy interstate (I-81) as it was split was a bit surreal.

Another bit of the surreal was when we rounded a bend in the river and saw some junk–a hub cap, tire, even a car door.  But then, rounding the next bend, we see a 100 yard long wall of cars on river left bank.  Not just any cars, but old cars from the 50’s 60’s, 70’s and 80’s stacked on top of each other starting from water right on up to the top.  It seems that these cars are probably part of the river restoration and protection of Chesapeake Bay watershed.  In all likelihood, our tax dollars at work to protect the Bay!!!!  I guess….

The river, itself, was quite enjoyable.  lots of ripples, water was high enough (the Luray gauge was at 4.5 ft), and a few slow sections where you could sit back and just close your eyes and float until you hear the next white water.  The only downside is that all the land is privately owned and the banks were straight up so there were very few places to pull in for a lunch.  We found a spot, avoiding the poison ivy and oak, and ticks.  Got back into the water.  Eventually the Meem’s Bottom Covered Bridge came into view and the adventure was over.  Nice, nice day.

Getting home, we cleaned up and had a few drinks, sat in the hot tub and finally had dinner.  Jill used the flea and tick comb on Bilbo to make sure he didn’t have ticks.  Sat downstairs and read.  Turns out that the only one that was carrying a visitor was me–tick crawling up my leg.  All that after a shower, hot tub, dinner, etc.  Jesus was wrong–“The ticks will inherit the earth”