Sunday, July 21, 2013

Kayak Camera: Trip 4

For the past few days, it's been ridiculously hot and humid with the heat index pushing well above the 100 degree mark.  Today's line of storms brought cooler air though this afternoon.  It was good kayaking weather after the rain.

The river didn't come up too high from the rains, so I was able to head far upstream with ease.  I paddled through some faster water and risked tipping the kayak a few times.  The water was a bit too swift for me to pull out my phone to take pictures, so I headed for some channels in between rocks and islands, rather than the rapids.

Eventually I got to some slower water and was now comfortable with taking my phone out for a photo opportunity.

The stretch of plants in front of me is water-willow.  Water-willow is a plant native to Virginia that is beneficial to the growth of islands in the river.

The plant forms rhizomes which makes a complex carpet of roots that cling to small rocks and sand.  The small rocks and sand are then better anchored and eventually, more plants will grow on them.  It takes years for a forest to grow on an island, but with a helping-hand from water-willow, it is more of a possibility.

Water flows in between the plants, but it's a project to paddle through the resistance of thousands of leaves. I drifted back a few feet, took a few strokes with the paddle, and continued upriver.

I played in more rapids and had a decent sized small-mouth bass jump over the bow of the kayak.  Like a dolphin it continued to swim right next to the boat, though this only lasted for a few seconds.  The bass darted into faster water and was never seen again. It was time for me to stop on an island for a break.

Some islands here are private, some are public, and some are public but with limited access, so it takes a little bit of research to know which ones are legal to land on.  I had one in mind and paddled right up to its sandy banks.

Kayaked to an island to relax and make a campfire.
There was a lighter and a knife in my pocket so a campfire seemed necessary (even if it was to only last about 20 minutes). Sycamore driftwood isn't the perfect campfire starting fuel, but it was all that seemed to be on this island.  It was when the fire was first lit that I realized I hadn't seen a single person on the river the whole time I was out.  This was a weird feeling, considering that I was only located a few miles outside of the D.C. area's infamous beltway traffic.

I could have camped out on that island all night, but nobody would have known where I was.  If I learned one thing from watching 127 Hours, it's to always leave or note or tell people your exact plans when ever you are in an outdoor scenario.  I didn't want to end up in a situation where nobody knew where I was, so I put the fire out and loaded the kayak again. The boat ramp where I launched from was my final destination.

I'll camp out on one of these islands one of these days, but for today, this kayak trip was phenomenal.

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