St. Mary’s Falls

Tony’s been so excited about our new backpacks that every time we have a few days, he starts talking about going camping. The nice thing about his flexible hours is that if there’s nothing pressing at work, he can take a weekday off and make up the time after hours or over the weekend. So, last Wednesday, we went to St. Mary’s Falls for the second time. It seems kind of unbelievable, but it’s been nearly four years since we were there last (Tony wrote about it here. One thing I can say for sure is that Tony got his wish – the water was quite a bit higher this time!

We got to the parking area at around 4:00. There were only four other cars parked there, so we very nearly alone, if not truly alone, by the time we passed four groups of people going in the opposite direction. It took us almost four hours to get in as far as we camped the last time because we were being careful to make sure our feet didn’t get too deep in the water. Last time we hiked St. Mary’s Falls, it was very dry and we walked quite a bit of the way in the dry bed. This year, the water was over our ankles at some of the crossings. We tried to jump from rock to rock, but at the last crossing, there were no rocks to use. We tried to tiptoe across the river, but the water was high enough that it just went over the tops of our boots.

We couldn’t get to the campsite we had last time because there was so much water over the last set of falls that we just couldn’t get up them. At that point, we turned around and went back to a site that Tony noticed last year looked like a nice spot.

The new site was pretty nice, if a little cramped. As you can see in the photo above, our tent was pretty near the fire pit. That wasn’t all bad because our boots were wet and we spent some of the evening with bare feet, trying to get our boots to dry before we put the fire out for the night. The fire did a better job than I anticipated it would – by the morning, my boots were dry enough that I couldn’t feel the wetness through my socks when I put them on. Not only that, but it made us some dinner too! Sausages and marshmallows made for a satisfying dinner before we turned in.

The trip out was much faster for one reason: I fell into the river on the first crossing we attempted and Tony chased in after me to make sure I didn’t hurt myself. Tony is definitely better at crossing a pair of branches (sticks, really) from the bank to a rock in the middle of the river. He had crossed and was standing on the rock looking for the best place to go next. I had gotten all the way from the bank to the rock when the branches shifted under me and I slipped right into the water. I managed to not fall on my rear, but Tony grabbed for my hand to try to save me. I managed to pull him in right after me. I found out later that he only got a little bit of water in one boot. I, on the other hand, was wet to my knees. After that, we didn’t worry nearly as much about finding the perfect place to cross to keep as dry as possible. If I didn’t see a simple way to get across without getting too wet, I just charged through, no longer caring how dry I stayed. Not only was I already wet, but we were on our way home to clean, dry clothes.

If you’re interested, there are more pictures here.


B3 Motorcycle Run

Yesterday, Dad and I went on a ride for a guy in Goochland who was found dead on the side of the road. No one knows what happened, so the money from the ride is being used to fund a reward for details. The ride went from Crozier to Zion Crossroads to Buckingham and back to Crozier. There were 22 bikes, only a few of which had two people on them. There was one BMW and at least two Hondas. The rest were Harleys. This first picture is of the bikes lined up before we headed out (actually, so is the last picture, but that one is from the back, obviously).

Our first leg was from Crozier to Zion Crossroads. We went out to 250 and rode that the whole way to the Crossroads. The interstate might have been faster, but we weren’t out for speed and I think it’d be hard to keep a group that large together on the interstate. Besides, it was a pretty day for a ride! It took about an hour to get there, by which point, my back was starting to feel tight. I was glad for the rest, but glad to be back on the bike about 10 minutes later for the second leg of the trip.

The second leg went from Zion Crossroads down into Buckingham County on 15. I was on the shoulder side of the lane when we crossed the bridge over the James River, so I got to sneak a few glances of the river as we crossed. It seemed to be pretty high, but I may have just been creating that feeling, as I’m not as familiar with the James River as the bodies of water nearer Charlottesville. We stopped in Buckingham County and, even though I think I could have made it back with the gas I had, I topped off to make sure there weren’t any problems. We had about 10 minutes again and the tension was back in my muscles.

The third leg was from Buckingham back to Crozier. There wasn’t a whole lot to comment about on the roads on the ride other than that they were really pretty. They weren’t too challenging, which I appreciated, as I haven’t been on my bike in about three months (long story). The one part I was worried about was when I saw a sign that said “grooved pavement ahead.” I ran into that once on 250 when they were resurfacing the road and I was so uncomfortable I said that if I could help it, that was something I would avoid in the future. Fortunately for me, grooved road in this case just means that it was a little bumpy. On our way back across the James, I was on the inside part of the lane, so I didn’t get quite as good a look at the river as I did on the way out.

When we got back to Crozier, the sponsors of the ride fed us: hamburgers and hot dogs. I have to say that after a ride, a hamburger slathered with ketchup and mustard is the best thing on the planet. It just seems to hit the spot for some reason. We hung around for a while after the ride was over, but we were one of the first to leave.

The thing that I was most pleased about with the ride was how comfortable I was on my bike. I was a little afraid that having been off my bike for so long would make things difficult, but it wasn’t actually too bad. I had some rocky starts, but the corners (which can be really frustrating sometimes) didn’t work too much against me. I managed to keep up with the pack most of the time and didn’t really feel like I was holding people up most of the time. I asked Dad after the ride if he could compare it to the ride we did in November and he said I did much better. I guess I didn’t write about that one. After the ride was over, he told me that I ought to try to get more comfortable riding closer to other people to keep the group more together. I didn’t really think I did that much better with that, but I did try. I sometimes got distracted by my thoughts and just started following at my normal distance. Then, I’d realize that I was further behind than I ought to be and hurried to catch up.

Overall, the ride on yesterday was a lot of fun. The roads were pretty, the weather was amazing, the group was small and well-managed. I’m not sure what more you could ask for!