Early this afternoon I called up my friend Penny and asked if she wanted to go for a walk in the woods. She did. We headed for the Virginia side of Great Falls park. I’ve written about the Potomac River and the Potomac River Gorge many times. Great Falls is where the Potomac makes a precipitous drop on its way toward the Chesapeake Bay. The park can be accessed from Virginia or Maryland. Penny and I decided to go to the Virginia side.
It was a gorgeous drive in a beautiful fall day–warm and a bit overcast. We took a path up river first, enjoying the colors, staying close to the water. It’s quiet here above the falls, and the ducks, geese and occasional herons feed in the quiet shallows.
There is a dam on the river where the water then drops about three feet and we paused there for a while, listening to the water and enjoying the colors. There were several kinds of moss and lichen on the river rocks.
We headed back down river, enjoying the woods and our conversation. There are several overlooks for the falls and we stopped at the first two.
The river was low, so the sound of the falls was muted. Still, the power of the water is clear. When you look around you can see little beaches scoured out by the water at its height.
At the second overlook, we saw some people standing above the river on a high outcrop. After a while, we figured they were kayakers, and we were right.
There were four of them, using little short, wide, rapid running boats. They were geared up with helmets, wet suits, and the ‘skirts’ that seal up the opening of the kayak.
They were coming down a chute of water and then gathering at the base of the rock outcrop.
Sometimes it looked a bit harrowing, with one of the red kayaks disappearing under the whitewater before popping back up and paddling over to the others. Finally three of them started down the next set of rapids.
We watched them go by, then waited for the green kayak to make another trip down the chute. He did, promptly negotiated the next set and paddled by us.
I don’t know what prompted him to go back for another try. Last weekend the place I kayak from noted the river was 64 degrees. I can’t imagine it was any warmer ten miles upstream, but as I said, these folks were kitted out.
After the excitement of the kayakers, we headed back into Arlington, feeling as though we had taken the best of the day, enjoying the colors on the way home. Back at Penny’s, I scored some tomatoes, as her garden is still going strong. One of them went into tonight’s vegetable saute for dinner.