3 October 2016 Osprey Cabin meetup

Everyone arrived safely and found Osprey cabin Monday night. Tommy was the first to arrive, even before me and Ed with our amazing Canoe & Kayak video crew. Michael and Ed Evangilidi were close behind and Adam finally made it in after dark, which was no small feat!! Mike Price, WV Sierra Club chair, and his son, Daniel, rented a cabin the evening before and enjoyed a successful day of fishing and enjoyed quality father-son time. We were crammed in pretty tightly in the cabin- Tommy slept in the bed of his truck which was quite the layout! I almost joined him! Adam squeezed in a single bunk above me and Ed. Garrett and Ed shared a room; Dave hammocked; Mike & Daniel shared an adjacent cabin. We managed to enjoy a homemade spaghetti dinner & salad despite the tight quarters and arriving late after completing shuttle takeouts in Karo. Silicone earplugs were handed out to all! It was difficult for me to sleep- too excited to get on the River!

Day 2- 4 October 2016- 12 miles Bixler Ferry put-in. River Left

Tuesday morning we were shuttled by SRO to Bixler's Ferry where we all eagerly packed our boats and got on the river. The water levels were >3 ft so paddling was expected to be good. Partly cloudy skies- highs to reach the upper 70's. Ed led the way in his overpacked inflatable Tomcat; I, the sweep. Gentle currents helped us along. Blue heron, ospry, and bald eagles soared above while families of turtles sunbathed.

Everyone was doing well reading the river and avoiding the many shallow ledges and rocks below. Adam took an unexpected swim, unfortunately losing his GoPro, but his spirits remained high as he exclaimed, "Now I can buy the newer version!" We stopped for lunch where Dave, editor of Canoe & Kayak magazine took a deliberate swim. The guys heated up warm lunches, enjoying each others' company.

We camped on the riverbank of the SRO cabins which were set back several hundred yards from the river. Everyone claimed their ground and their trees for those of us sleeping in camping hammocks. Tommy started the fire where Adam attempted to dry his clothes from the swim he had taken earlier. He acquired his river name, Bacon (Bakin') after leaving his pants too close to the fire!! The leftover spaghetti and Halloween candy were consumed quickly. The sky was clear with bright stars and the glowing moon. Relaxing evening with stories shared.

Day 3- 5 October 2016- 12 miles. Take out Shenandoah State Park River Left.

After enjoying a leisurely breakfast, we loaded up and were back on the River, excited to take on Compton Rapids, the largest, most technically challenging section of the River. The change in scenery was delightful- rocky cliffs mixed with open fields of hay, large farms, and livestock.

Making it to our take-out early, we helped each other unload and carried each others' gear to the available "primitive" campsites. Groomed, reserved camping spots high on a bluff with gravel, picnic tables, firepits, and unfortunately a parking lot which was partially hidden by trees. I made my way through the thistle to capture the best view and sound of the River to lay my head for the night. Tommy, Ed, and Michael did a resupply run for snacks (junk food!), Halloween glow sticks and spirits. Another late night with a blazing fire and stories of our military challenges and experiences, horrific on-line dating stories, among many other random topics in which it would not be appropriate to describe in detail!! Mike stayed in town and Ed unfortunately departed for another paddling trip which he was committed to lead.

No pictures of Compton rapids, but here we are emptying out after making it through!

Day 4- 6 October 2016- 3 miles Take-out at Gooney Creek. River Right.

We had hoped to reach RM 44 in Front Royal to conclude our trip, but because of the lowering water levels, we all agreed on Gooney Creek where we were able to leave our vehicles and canoe trailer with Pam & Grammy, the kind owners and managers. I was in a somber mood, knowing this was our last day and having to say good-bye to the River and some amazing men.

Thick, wet dew dampened our gear and the heavy river valley fog made it difficult to tell the time. The fog lifted to clear blue skies and we were on the water, in awe of the River's beauty, with all paddlers attempting to capture its magic with our cameras and cell phones.

Did I mention how fabulous the fishing was? Though I was unable to land a single fish despite all of the bites, Mike and Daniel, on the other hand, were very successful in catching countless numbers of small mouth, sunfish, and even a womper cat. Even one of our Cali-boys, Garrett, had some luck pulling in quite a few in between his photo coverage of the trip. I regret not capturing the drone Dave and Garrett utilized on several occasions, obtaining aerial views of our cohesive group.

Thanks to all of you for adding to the Magic of the River. Indescribable, but I tried my best! Praying for World Peace and Peace within our hearts.

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