Last Sunday (May 10, 2009) I went on a paddling trip down the Hardware River near Scottsville, VA. A guy named Pete, who often leads canoe trips for OASC, organized the trip and provided a canoe along with his deep local knowledge and river expertise. I paddled in the bow of Pete's canoe. Also with us were Pete's friend Iva and her friends Diane, Patty, and Cindy; the four of them paddled kayaks.

Along the river we saw wildlife including a great blue heron, a little green heron, and a snake coiled up on the thin branch of a tree up above us.

What follows is a "picture dump": I'm presenting the pictures that I took on the trip without much selective editing, and I won't try to create a coherent narrative out of them. I'll add comments and identifications here and there.

A view of the river early in our trip.


Ditto. This picture makes the river look a little wider than it really was, I think; it's not a large river.

One of the rapids that we paddled over.


Rapids, with kayakers approaching.

Diane paddling through the rapids.



At one point we pulled up on the bank of the river and Pete showed us the site of an old mill. To the left you can see two of the columns that would have supported the mill floor, as I understand it; Pete is standing in the old basement of the mill.

A half-visible millstone, with canoe paddle blade for scale.


In this picture I was trying to show the edge of the millstone, which as Pete pointed out has a (rusting) metal band around it. If I understand right, the stone is not carved from a single piece of rock but pieced together, and the band would help hold it together.

Those support columns again.

A different set of rapids, which we spent some time scouting out before paddling through.

On the left, between that diagonal line of rock and the trees on the far shore, you can see the path that Pete and I paddled through in the canoe. Iva in her kayak went for the more dramatic and technically difficult drop just right of center.

Same rapids.

A closer, better view of the two routes through the rapids.

The same picture as above, with lines drawn to show our routes through the rapids. Pete and I (as well as Diane and Cindy; I don't remember about Patty, whom I didn't get a picture of at these rapids) took the upper route, which led into a "wave train" that you can't see much of in the picture. Iva took the lower route, which has a more sudden drop-off.

Detail of the rapids.



I think this shows a close-up of the part of the rapids that Pete and I paddled through. Even though we took the less technically difficult route through the rapids, we still took on some water, and the ride was plenty exciting for me.

Cindy paddling through the rapids.

Made it!

Iva approaches the rapids.

Iva takes the plunge! If you compare this photo to the one of her paddling through the earlier rapids, you'll see that she has taken off her hat and loose T-shirt in preparation for a possible dunking in the strong current, and she has put on the kayak skirt to keep water out of the cockpit.

Near the end of our trip, we paddled under this old aqueduct, which had been converted to use as a rail bridge. (It's still in use for the rail road.) On the left you can see the old stone work of the aqueduct. There is similar stone work on the right, but the newer construction of the rail bridge overhangs.

Approaching the bridge. You can see some of the original stonework of the aqueduct in the shadow of the overhanging railroad addition. Pete explained that the rail road needed a broader curve than the aqueduct allowed for, so extensions for the rail bed had to be built sort of diagonally across the aqueduct.

On the other side of the aqueduct, the kayakers pulled up to admire the old stone work. I didn't get a good picture to show this, but many of the stones still had mason's marks (letters or symbols to indicate which person cut the block and should be paid for the work).

Pete keeps an eye on the kayaks from the stern of his canoe.

The downstream side of the aqueduct has a clearer view of the old stone construction. Beautiful and durable! Pete says that the rail company didn't reinforce the aqueduct at all, just laid the tracks on top. The aqueduct structure wasn't designed to carry the weight of a train, but it held up nevertheless.