The day started quietly. We were not in a big hurry and enjoyed a nice hot breakfast of bacon and eggs thanks to our great cooks! We were shuttled by car to our put- in point on the Cowpasture River, which along with the Jackson River, is one of the two tributaries that combine to create the James River. We are the first expedition to actually begin at the beginning of the James and we are excited to make this journey encompass the entire river, from the headwaters all the way to the mouth where it runs into the Chesapeake Bay.
When we arrived at the launch site we were met by some videographers and reporters who wanted to document our journey. We also met a local couple who goggled us and were amazed at what we are about to do…spend eight day in canoes and tents, exploring and learning about this amazing watershed!
Everyone was incredibly excited to get in the water and put all our practice yesterday into use. We started off with spirits high, a gorgeous day, and a great group of people! The day was fun with no big problems. We faced, and conquered our first level 2 rapid, ate a lunch that was missing a few key prep ingredients but tasty nonetheless, and generally just enjoyed canoeing, conversation, (lots of splashing!) and simply experiencing the river, the view, and the beautiful day.
One big problem we have seen along the river already is litter. On one brief stop we collected an entire bag of trash and five tires, which we put in our canoes and brought with us to be disposed of properly. It is sad how many of us abuse the waterways that run through our communities. We also collected water samples so we compare the water quality on this stretch of the James with the water farther downstream. The water in the Cowpasture was amazingly clear and already we can see how the water quality is changing after just a few short miles.
We came back to camp for a delicious meal of burgers and corn on the cob. We will all sleep well after this, our first real day of paddling, as long we can get the ground to stop rocking as if we were still in the canoe!! We say goodbye to our campsite in the morning and head farther downstream. We can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring!