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Karl’s South Anna Adventure

July 27th, 2009

The Osprey Brand Team, a group of 10 ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, checks in with Karl Harrelson, our BT’er from Virginia. Karl recently floated and camped near the South Anna River bringing his Osprey Kestrel 48 along for the adventure…

FINALLY! The weather and schedules converged to provide just enough time for a canoe/hiking trip. Rain has fallen for many weekends here in the East, making it difficult to plan anything outdoors. The upshot? The rivers have remained higher than usual, affording a longer canoe/kayak season. Last weekend, my friend Beau and I decided to drop the canoe in the South Anna River in Central Virginia for a canoeing/fishing/camping trip. For mid-July, it wasn’t too bad. Normally, the heat and humidity conspire to make for a high Misery Index. But this summer has been quite nice, even some low humidity days.

We dropped the trusty old Alumacraft into the green-brown South Anna at State Route 54, situated our Osprey packs and fishing gear and shoved off. This river, like many in Virginia, still offers a pristine panorama. Overhanging trees and high banks provide a cool, green tunnel for canoeists and kayakers alike. There is nothing quite so calming, even spiritual, as a paddle into this Garden of Eden. There is very little sign of man and one can imagine that Capt. John Smith made the same sights on his explorations in 1608. The Youghtamund tribe inhabited this area then. They made a captive of John Smith near here. You likely know the rest of the story concerning a certain Native-American princess.

No whitewater, no rapids to speak of, just a quiet, stress-free adventure into the wilderness.  No… it’s not for everyone, and I’d get pretty bored with this slow, quiet river every weekend, but it’s a great way to recharge one’s soul. The scenery is amazing and unspoiled, even though it’s not in a park, nor protected area. We canoed a good ways upriver and then set up camp for the night. You’ve never heard such a loud chorus of frogs, peepers and night things in your life. I thought it would be as quiet as the day, but not so much. Something, maybe a raccoon, poked around our campsite all night. Owls hooted into the wee hours. At one point, nature called, and I went to answer. The landscape was alit with moonlight filtering through the trees. Although I can attempt to describe it, one simply has to see it firsthand. There are no words to relate the natural beauty of such a setting. Mosquitoes caused me to sprint back to the tent and slap the zipper closed. Not a good night for a hike.

Dawn broke slowly in the river valley. The sun seemed to struggle to pierce the canopy above us. I needn’t mention the smell of bacon cooking in the great outdoors. Anyone who has ever smelled it after a long day on a trail, or river, knows my reference. I suppose we build up a stronger appetite on the trail.

Kestrel 48

Kestrel 48

Although the fish weren’t biting, a bald eagle screeching in the trees overhead gave us a bit of nature at its finest. Speaking of birds of prey, the Osprey backpacks were a natural for canoeing.  Unlike my wetpack bag, the backpacks provide exterior pockets for those items that you invariably need on such a trip, bug spray, sunscreen, water, GPS, camera, sunglasses, etc. It was so nice to have those things at my fingertips, rather than have to fish around inside a large bag of gear with no pockets inside. Once ashore it’s much easier to slip on the backpack as opposed to one-handing a heavy bag up the steep, slick river bank. Although I hadn’t considered the advantages of a backpack in a canoe, I won’t be caught without them now.

For more information about Karl check out his bio page here.

If you find yourself in Karl’s hometown (Richmond, VA) be sure to check out his favorite Osprey dealer:

Blue Ridge Mountain Sports
11500 Midlothian Turnpike
Richmond, VA 23235
Ph: 804-794-2004
www.brms.com

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