In which Frank Fico and I discover the hidden jewel of the Accotink Fall Line !
I've just returned from doing these two streams with Frank - what a blast! In anticipation of a heavy rain to fall overnight, he had asked the BRV mailing list - and got me. I suggested we also call out the CCA Pick-Up trips list (317 care-free paddlers.) What a disappointment - No one responded ! Two inches of rain overnight had raised the Braddock Rd gauge on the Accotink to a peak of 2,510 cfs by 7:15 am. So after choosing these streams lying cheek-by-jowl, we waited for the gauges to subside. N.B. Because of their respective sizes and positions, these streams should be run in this order – as you return to the Pohick put-in, it is but a couple of miles from the Accotink take-out.
Pohick at 300 cfs: Frank and I met at the Rte 1 take-out - saw the RC gauge there reading two feet - and the current moving strongly & swiftly, too much, thought I. We consolidated boats and drove up to an intermediate point to walk down to inspect the piece de resistance, Double-Z rapid, which Tim and I had cleared out back in 2006, I believe. Yup - another log-jam just above the rapid. Saw how to take out to avoid it and went on to the Lake Pleasant Lane put-in.
Frank has done this stream about 17 times, I possibly 3x. Starts slow, then picks up after the high tension lines. Portaged Double Z - In fact Frank did the second Z - that rapid was really cookin'. Frank in the lead, there was another large Cl. II+ soon thereafter. The Pohick runs into the I-95 sound wall, then doubles back and charges over another major falls, the South Run enters, and Pohick ducks under I-95. One hour on the river. The paved Cross County bike trail along the left side makes portaging easy.
Accotink at 400 cfs: Palpably larger than the Pohick. We left our paddling togs on and after picking up my car, drove it over to the bottom of the Accotink's fall-line descent - Alban Rd bridge. Switched into Frank's vehicle - very efficient - and leapt in, moving up to Hooes Rd, a put-in neither of us have used. This is because in a half mile you enter the Ft Belvoir Engineering Proving Ground - whose minatory signs kept both Steve Ettinger and Roger Cobett off that section of the river. What a shame, for in there are about four successive Class II+ rapids as in the course of a brief mile the river twists down a rock ribbed gorge, coursing over large rocks with so much water that we did not touch a rock on the way down. A PFD for both of us. Frank, who worked at the facility 'till recently, said we would find no enforcement of the streamside no trespassing sign. At the end of the good stuff we came to the traditional steep, steep put-in down the bank on river right- and 1.4 miles later after negligible rapids, save one Class II, to the take-out. No log-jams, save one at the very end under Alban Rd bridge. Also an hour on the river.
We left the put in at 3:50 and were home by 4:30.
I am coming up for air after doing the math on our two streams and the Braddock Rd USGS gauge. I figure that we had about 300 cfs on Pohick and 400 on Accotink. Pohick is about equal in catchment to the Accotink at Braddock, and for our Accotink run, I lag Hooes Rd 6 miles = 2 hrs down from the gauge.
I just looked at Steve's and Roger's books – neither has any conception that the major part of the fall line is within the Engineer Proving Ground. So glad to have enjoyed those rapids for dessert.