Thornton - 7" (45 cfs) & Hughes (Sec 3) - 7"? (71 cfs) - Thurs, 26 April 2018
7 paddlers - We were up in the Sperryville area on the Rappahannock headwaters a couple of days after heavy rains - and with our late spring - before the trees had leafed out to suck up the run-off out of the rivers, where God meant it to be. We had 6 boats/ 7 paddlers, Thurs, 26 April, most of us in open canoes (Mark Wray, Ron Knipling and Tim Tilson and Frank and Bridget Fico sharing a duo.). Jim Long and Alf Cooley had kayaks.
We met at 9:00 at Manassas and with no cross loading, got out of there within five minutes and arrived riverside at the Thornton's Fletchers Mill put-in just after 10:00; Jim Long arrived from Culpeper a couple of minutes later. We decided on our bird-in-hand, the Thornton - which was running at 45 cfs (Battle Run gauge) - and at the put-in - 7" on the Randy Carter bridge-gauge. That is 45 cfs actual, as Battle at the gauge and Thornton at the put-in have near-identical catchments: 26, 25 sq mi, resp. Frank and Bridget had not been to the Thornton for years, and Mark with his Boy Scout commitments keeping him on the larger streams (& Passage Ck) had never been on either of these runs. Alf had never done the Hughes.
On the Thornton were a couple of nasty strainers - the first a jutting log on river right within the first mile) but otherwise fine. Beautiful, sunny day with temps in the 70s. Everyone ran Prepare to Meet thy God rapid just fine. We were off the river at 2:10. So in best Steve Ettinger style, Frank and Ron suggested running 4 miles on the nearby Hughes (Sec 3), and we assented as one man (and woman).
After a near mishap in misidentifying the bottom Hazel for the Hughes, we put on the real Hughes at Popham Ford Rd, the normal one for the Hughes/Hazel combo, and ran to the low water bridge at SR 644. Here, unlike on the Thornton, there were three river-wide strainers, one of which Alf and Ron demolished with their small but vicious saws.
The Hughes, a larger river, had a level about 7" - which reached the bottom of the last river-right weep-hole on the little bridge just up from the put-in. Focusing on this reference-point, we may return some warm dry day with a pot full of yellow paint to set an RC gauge. By now (3:30) the USGS gauge at Battle Run read 41 cfs, implying about 71 cfs at the put-in. We got off the river by 5:30. Didn't get home until 7:30
Redbud and incipient dogwood flourished along the cliffs; Jim found some blooming Jacks-in-the-pulpit; otherwise, Canada geese, osprey, great blues along the river. Both streams at 7 inches - a perfect level allowing us to go through or under a number of stream-wide fall-downs.
A Glorious Day with more water coming on Friday.
and by Tim Tilson - -
We had 6 boats on the Rapp Headwater today, and the Open Canoes outnumbered the kayaks.
Mark Wray, Ron Knipling and myself were in solo canoes while Frank and Bridget Fico were in a tandem canoe. That left Jim Long and Alf as the only kayakers. The Randy Carter gauge at the Thorton put in looked about 6-7” so we ran that. A few nasty strainers but otherwise fine. Beautiful day with temps in the 70s. Everyone ran Boulder Ledge Rapids (a.k.a. Prepare to Meet thy God) just fine. We were off at 2:10. So in best Steve Ettinger style, Frank and Ron suggested running 4 miles on the nearby Hughes. We put in at Popham Ford Rd (the normal put in for the Hughes/Hazel combo) and ran to the low water bridge at SR644. A PFD for some folks. Three or four strainers with Alf and Ron cutting out one with their trusty saws.
Glorious Day with more water coming on Friday.