The stars aligned so Jan and I made a spur of the moment decision to take a kayaking trip. We took our favorite drive to the WV mountains and got a cabin at Canaan Valley State Park. The next day the weather was perfect (partly cloudy, 74 degrees) to spend the day kayaking the Blackwater and Little Blackwater Rivers into the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Surprisingly, we didn’t see another person on the rivers. Except for the treetop fighter jet that thundered down the valley, we were alone all day in one of West Virginia’s most scenic areas. It was a spectacular day!
Following are some of the highlights. Click on photo for a larger image. Use back button to return from photos to the blog.
I was surprised to see dozens of Blue Monkshoods flowering on the shady east shoreline early in the trip. It was the only place we saw them.
Along both banks of the stream we saw what appeared to be the dominant plants in flower: Yellow Sneezeweed and Sweet-scented Indian Plantain.
Jan and I happily paddled from shore to shore looking at plants and other creatures, listening to the few late-season bird songs and enjoying the ‘Almost Heaven’ scenery.
The most dominant shrub along the Blackwater River is Ninebark. We were about 6 weeks too late to see it bloom. When the Ninebark is in snowy bloom along the river it is spectacular.
Large patches of Swamp Milkweed are along sections of the Blackwater, but most of it had already gone to seed. The few last flowerheads were quite colorful.
After 2.1 miles of paddling we came to the mouth of the Little Blackwater River and decided to follow it upstream as far as we could.
Just off the Little Blackwater, the view of the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge wetlands extends for miles.
We were able to paddle .4 miles up the Little Blackwater until it became impassable due to dense Speckled Alder shrubs overhanging from both banks.
The following video shows me paddling downstream at the mouth of the Little Blackwater where it enters the Blackwater River. (video by Jan)
Back at the confluence with the Blackwater River, we decided to continue upstream on the main watercourse. On both banks we continued to find different wildflowers and other creatures.
Dragonflies and damselflies perched on our kayaks. Beaver slides from the high banks into the water looked like inviting fun. I was surprised at the large number of Viceroy Butterflies.
After .33 more miles upstream from the confluence of the Blackwater and Little Blackwater, we came to a fallen tree totally blocking the river, sticking up several inches above water level. The day was getting late and the portage would have involved standing in deep water to lift the kayaks now and when we returned, so we decided to start the leisurely paddle back downstream. We noticed large patches of Halberd-leaved Tearthumb in some locations which would have been painfully difficult to walk through wearing shorts and sandals, but were beautiful to float by.
The following video shows the beauty of the stream, wildlife refuge and day. (video by Jan)
Jan and I had a wonderful day renewing body, soul and spirit. We will do this trip again.
Happy Camper back at the cabin after a day of kayaking (5.66 miles) and supper at Siriani’s.