Memorial Day 2011 Paddling on the Slate

On May 30, 2011 (Memorial Day) I went for a paddling trip on the Slate River in Buckingham County, Virginia. There were ten of us on the trip. Pete and I paddled his canoe and led most of the way, since he is familiar with the Slate. We were joined by eight others in kayaks: our friend Jodi and her boyfriend Dave; our friend Iva; our friends Rob and Jolie; Pete’s friends Atwill and Mary; and new friend Stephanie, whom Pete, Iva, and I met on the previous weekend’s canoe trip. (She was the swimmer in this picture.) Dan did not join us, as he was at home preparing to host a fundraiser for his Bike MS team (he made delicious burgers and baked 32 buns from scratch!). He and I went cycling together on the Blue Ridge Parkway the day before.


Dave with some of the kayaks at the put-in under a bridge, near the ruins of Diana (pronounced “Dinah”) Mill. We did not visit the ruins on this trip—it would have been hard with such a large party—but I got to see them on a previous trip.


Getting under way.


The Slate is a small river with lots of interest: alternating shade and sun, scattered rocks, and short bends.


First swim stop, more of a wading stop. It was also our lunch stop since we’d gotten on the water rather late due to an incident involving a car, a muddy ditch, a call to Iva’s friend with a big truck, and a snapped tow rope . . .


We had a nice long beach to pull up on. In the shade on the right you can just make out Jodi and Dave sitting on the nice flat, shaded area that made a perfect picnic spot.


View downstream from the lunch spot. The river was low yesterday and shallow in most spots. There was not much in the way of rapids, but a few rocks and trees gave us obstacles to steer around.


I ate my lunch on my own rocky “island.” It was a little hot in the sun, but I could dip my feet in the water at will. (And I stayed far from the smell of others’ tuna fish.)


Jodi claimed the adjacent “island” complete with “palm tree.”


The kayaks follow the canoe downriver. I always feel like Pete and I, sitting high in his canoe and leading the way, are the parent ducks, and all the kayaks are our ducklings. The kayakers from left to right: Rob (blue boat), Atwill (yellow), Stephanie (blue), Iva (directly behind Stephanie; her orange boat is just visible), Jolie (green, second closest after Rob), Dave (orange), and Mary (orange). Jodi must have slipped out of the picture (or spun out!) in the whitewater kayak she was borrowing from Pete.


Pretty good picture of Rob.


The kayaks pick their way through a rock garden. The canoe had only one good path through but the kayaks had at least two or three options.


Dave and Jodi.




Second swim stop. This time there was no beach, but a series of small “coves” at a rocky outcrop.


Pete and Stephanie found a deep swimming hole.


Under way again on a relatively broad and straight section of the river.



Third swim stop!


Dave and Jodi found a rock to perch on just below the surface.


Colorful kayaks lined up at the third swim stop.


Some of Pete’s conquests.



Pete’s truck at the take-out on his patch of riverfront land on the Slate.


How to put four kayaks on a Subaru.


Pete’s outhouse. He made it himself and he’s rightly proud of it. I think the brick red paint is a nice touch.