It started as a one-man dither. With masses of rain falling on Friday into Saturday, I couldn't make up my mind whether to try Goose - supposedly cresting at 2500 cfs overnight - or catch the rarer Virginia Catoctin Goose which we usually run at 300 - 500 cfs, the level promised by NOAA-AFPS-NWS - which usually lies through its teeth. I knew Pam White was on board, but nonetheless I dallied , not sending out the Call to the 200 Pick-Up listees until 7:20 PM. By morning, only Hildy Ferraiolo had joined, giving us a strong team. Also a team that was to meet the Loudoun Parks people on Tuesday to talk about "Blueways" access - and having just done the Goose could only add to our chops. We met at Kephart Landing at 10:00, dumped our kayaks into Pam's pick-up, and had Pam's son Jack deliver us to the Sycolin Rd put-in.
This was a PFD (personal first descent) for Hildy, so we filled her with Goose lore as we poked our way down the reservoir to the Fairfax Dam. Plenty of water going over the lip; we lowered our kayaks on short ropes to the beginning of the whitewater section - 5 miles to the Potomac. Most of the smaller rapids above Golfcourse were easy to negotiate, and Golfcourse itself was in fine form. Stopped below to play a bit and admire. With high water we were able to penetrate upstream into Sycolin Creek to the first rapid and later into Tuscarora Creek - the latter a first for all of us, the pebbly Tuscarora Beach being a full foot underwater. Hildy performed three crisp Eskimo rolls, but come the last rapid at Clapham's Mill just above Kephart, her boat got a hard hit 2/3 the way to the bottom, and she swam. At this level, no doubt that this long rapid rises to a Class III. All three of us were shouting our heads off as we charged down through the roaring foam. The best of company on a fine day. Three hours on the river.
We ran the Goose thinking it was at 700 cfs, discovering only later that it was 970.* Only four trips of record meet or surpass that, including a daring Oct 2013 trip by Mike Aronoff at 2,250 cfs.
Fauna were some jumping fish, a beaver seen in Sycolin Creek, a lone Great Blue, numerous pairs of Canadas, including a family with four goslings at the head of Tuscarora navigation. A fabulous day that started overcast with sprinkles and ended in the sun. Cool - in the 60s.
* Calculation of 970 cfs at Leesburg at 9:00 - two hours before our 11:00 put-in at Sycolin Rd.