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Goose Creek - Above Oatlands to the Fairfax Reserv...
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   Today five of us paddled Goose Creek, putting in at Crooked Bridge Rd just off Lime Kiln Rd (733) and paddling 10 miles to Sycolin Rd Bridge, whence most of our trips down the creek have originated.  The day was crisp, snow still on patches of ground - notably at the put-in, allowing a seal launch for those so inclined.  We took 2 hrs 45 mins - from 11:20 to 2:00. The 762 cfs at the Leesburg (Evergreen Mills) gauge gave us good current all the way into the top of the Reservoir - with less, the trip would have been possibly an hour longer.  No downed timbers - most of the run was Class 1, with three rapids (1+, 1+, 2).  See Gregory's Relive Video:

    We: John S, Wayne, Cotton, Gregory, and Alf - met Tim Tilson at the Sycolin take-out, consolidating into his car and John's truck, and shuttled upstream via back roads through a yet undeveloped part of Loudoun County. The first mile has a single Cl. I rapid a few hundred yards before the US 15 bridge.  No access here. The creek loops south then east below Banshee Reeks County Park. Little River enters coming down from Aldie, and then swift water brings you to the Leesburg gauge on river left, a classic concrete USGS pillbox. A Class I+ rapid takes you under Evergreen Mills Rd (621). This bridge picks up wood which could block the creek.  No access here.

    A mile downstream is the Cl. II rapid as the stream drops two feet over the remains of the Francis Dam and Lock. We lunched on the fine beach just below.  Somewhere in the next 3.5 miles the Fairfax Reservoir begins.  The creek loops back to the north like a sink-trap - we passed under the same high tension line three times. Handsome cliffs.  Emerging, we came on river left to the mansions of the NIMBYs opposing the Overlook housing project, which has promised a public landing.  We counted five private landings for these folk to motorboat up and down the creek/reservoir. One of these craft was a fully appointed floating duck-blind.  

    Around the last bend we could see Sycolin Road Bridge. We pulled out through our familiar small brook mouth and dragged our boats in an unfamiliar direction - UP the hill to our cars.

We saw a nice winter bird assemblage, a sharp shinned hawk and a juvenile eagle, a pileated woodpecker in the trees, three great blue herons, and chattering kingfishers. Nothing flowering yet but evidence of emerging skunk cabbage in the lowlands and swelling buds on the red maples. Interesting fact about skunk cabbage. The plant has great starchy roots. It uses that stored energy to create heat, thermogenesis, melting snow for the emerging flowers and spreading the fetid odor which attracts flies as pollinators. (J. Snitzer). . Some birds to add to the list — wood ducks, hooded mergansers, common mergansers, belted kingfisher, red-shouldered hawk, downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, turkey vulture, black vulture. (Cotton)

    Today we established that this seldom paddled section has real potential for beginner boaters, including families.  Were Loudoun County to establish a put-in below Evergreen Mills rapid, beginners could paddle 3.5 miles from there to Sycolin Bridge on flatwater at low-water and high, with a single brief portage at Francis Mill Dam.


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