Monday, June 9, 2014

A Surprisingly Bouncy Ride Down the Roanoke River

Mark Dearing "surfs" a small rapid on the Roanoke River. This was about a Class II.
River guy Mark Dearing.
Veteran paddler Mark Dearing and I put the kayaks into the Roanoke River today so I could gauge the navagability of a section between Green Hill Park and the Cardinal Police Academy in Salem. It is passable; in some spots barely. It is also fast and quite lovely.

A group in Roanoke is studying the feasability of creating a Roanoke River Blueway to go with our excellent Greenway system and having a river that accommodates canoes and kayaks--which are immensely popular these days--is important. I wanted to see if the Roanoke River would be friendly to a sit-on-top kayak, the kind that is becoming wildly popular, but a vehicle not made for whitewater.

There is some whitewater in this stretch and I haven't paddled white water in quite a while, but I have some familiarity with it. It is not big water, but some of it is quite technical and a lot of it is excessively rocky, which is where I wound up on my head in the water, soaking my favorite little point-and-shoot camera (it's gone), inflating my life vest ($27 for a refill) and bruising the hell out of my ego.

Mark served as the guide and he didn't get in trouble. He wouldn't. That's one reason I like having him along. I'm putting together a video of our run and there will be more to come. It's a good little river, but right now it looks to need work before it will become a popular boating destination.

Pampa paddles with Mark in the background.
Put-in point at Green Hill Park is a swimmin' hole.
Mark approaches a Great Blue Heron (top right).
More swimmers and tubers.
There's junk in the river: the square piece is an engine block.
We stop for a tinkle break.
The light dances off the water in a long riffle.
Mark takes a sip of his favorite beverage. Well, not favorite.
A placid, peaceful, pretty river. In spots.

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