This past weekend, my wife and I spent two days and two nights camping, canoeing and fishing along the banks of the Greenbrier River in Southern West Virginia. It proved to be a great weekend! The river and campground were phenomenal.
Thursday night, on our way to my dad’s house, we drove through perhaps the worst electrical storm I’ve ever seen. I didn’t count (I was too busy gripping my steering wheel) but I would estimate that the lighting was striking at about 45 bolts per minute. It was actually touching ground within 100 yards of us several times per minute. Friday, we dropped off Turtle and had plans to take the Mad River Canoe with us to the Greenbrier. However, as we dropped it to the ground from its storage rack, we realized that we had aggravated a wasp’s nest in the stern of the boat. We decided to leave it in place and rent from the campground.
We arrived at the Greenbrier River Campground (I’ll be doing a campground review in the near future) at about 11AM. We met Beverly, one of the owners, who gave us all of the friendliness and information that we could ask for. We found our campsite to be secluded and right on the river. The weather forecast indicated that it was going to storm sometime late afternoon or early evening so we quickly set up our tent, covered our firewood and set out to pick up a canoe.
As promised, Randy the camp caretaker had an Old Town Discovery, two PFD’s and two paddles (I opted to use my wooden paddle) waiting for us at the campground’s put-in ramp. We took a few minutes to square away our gear. First and foremost, I tied a line of 550 cord around the thwart of the canoe so that we could secure our backpacks and dry box. We fitted our PFD’s. And I tied Rapala Minnows to both of our fishing poles.
As soon as we slid the canoe into the water and took our seats, everything else faded away. There is little else in life that I enjoy more than peacefully floating along the winding rivers of West Virginia. We paddled the flat water for about ten minutes before reaching the first rapid. It was a large class 1 or small class 2 depending on who’s judging. It wasn’t difficult but had to be ran on the FAR right of the river. Just as we slipped through the chute of the rapid and brushed up against a few hanging branches, I realized that my Rapala was still hanging in the trees! I hadn’t even used my brand new expensive lure and I had already lost it to the river.
We continued paddling the flat waters and small shoals for about a mile before reaching a solid class two rapid. We paddled through it quickly but hung on a small boulder that I couldn’t see from the top of the rapids. The canoe tilted left and started taking water. “Lean right! Lean right!” Misti looked back and saw the water coming into the canoe and we both leaned as far right as possible while still paddling. We managed to break free from the rock and continued downriver with about six inches of water sloshing around in the bottom of the canoe. We found a decent place to take out, dumped the canoe and sat down to an awesome river snack – sliced pepperoni and cracked pepper and olive oil crackers.
After a bit, we put back in and attempted fishing. The wind proved to be too strong for any fishing from the canoe. Regardless of where you casted, your line almost always ended up going where the wind took it. Often it was so strong that it would push us back upriver as quickly as we could paddle down river.
After a few hours total, we reached the planned pick up location – Alderson City Park. After we pulled the canoe out of the water, we called the campground and they sent Randy out to shuttle us back to the campground.
In total, we paddled five miles. It was a short trip but with the weather forecast calling for severe storms, we decided that we’d do a short trip today and plan for a longer paddle tomorrow.
We arrived at our campsite, fished for a little while from the bank (ended up catching a red eye and a small mouth – neither noteworthy in size) before cleaning up and heading to Lewisburg for a romantic dinner at Food and Friends. If you ever happen to find yourself near here, stop in and try the filet, the prime rib or the crab cakes. They’re sure to satisfy city girls and country boys alike!
After we ate enough to last us for several days, we returned to camp and tried our hand at fishing again with no luck. Randy had already advised us that the fish hadn’t been biting for the past several days but it was still enjoyable to be on the river.
As I laid down for bed, I could still feel the rocking motion of the canoe. Misti and I briefly spoke of the day’s paddling, how sunburnt our knees were (what we’ve termed canoe knee) and the plans for the next day. It’s difficult to sleep when you’re excited about eleven miles on the river with great fishing waters and several class 2 rapids.
Be sure to visit SmoothingIt.com soon to read about Day 2! There’s lots of fish, lots of class 1 and class 2 rapids, and even a video of one of the rapids.