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USGS gauge in Ararat, North Carolina
The Ararat River flows from the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Ararat Virginia into North Carolina to its confluence with the Yadkin River three miles West of Pilot Mountain State Park on the Surry/Yadkin border. Along the way it passes through my hometown and just behind my house.
October 18, 2006
Today's story is one of two extremes. A perfect start and a miserable ending. Sandwiched between two rainy days, we had a perfectly sunny 85F/29C Wednesday. My friend Jeff and I took full advantage of it by wrapping up work early, grabbing our boats and hitting the river. The weather was amazing. I had to take off my cold weather gear because it was so hot. After dropping my van off at Riverside Park, we were at the put-in on Riverside Drive, directly across from Crossingham Road, by 4pm. We made good time on the river, with just enough water leftover from Tuesday's rain to not drag. This run might have been short on woo-hoos, but was packed with ooohs and aaahs as the changing leaves were beautiful in the setting sun. Perfect day.
At the quarry's rock dam, we didn't find any lines wide enough for Jeff's whitewater canoe, so he started a portage on river left. While I paddled along the top of the ledge trying to choose which run to make, I accidentally got too close to the spillover and went over backwards. I couldn't stop laughing, because I looked like a cartoon character trying to paddle back upstream as I went over. My backwards run went just fine and I bounced down through the rocks, laughing out loud the whole way. I got out and carried my boat to the top, then ran it again, forward, on river left. I wanted to try one more of the lines, a tricky one that hugged a big tree laying in the center of the river, so I portaged back upstream one more time. That run started okay, but I dropped hard off a rock and shot under a tree, pinning the GT, which forced me to climb out and work the boat loose.
For the rest of the story and how we met Nitro, click here.
River Depth at Ararat, NC gauge = 1.31 feet Discharge = 302 cubic feet per second
April 23, 2006.
Jackson and I took advantage of Friday and Saturday's rains this morning by kayaking the Ararat River. We took the Dagger Element which has ample room for a five year old to sit in your lap. Jackson covered his legs with a towel and was snug as a bug. He even did some of the paddling for us. It was my first kayak outing since I lost my camera, so I don't have any photos, but we had a wonderful time. I could have had some fantastic photos too. It was a beautiful morning. We were on the water before 8am as the fog was lifting on a sunny blue sky morning. We saw lots of wildlife, including a beaver that scared the life out of us. He snuck up unannounced and slammed into the side of our boat with a big splash. We both screamed. Jackson's other favorite part was when we took a slide in the kayak down a granite boulder into the water following a snack break. He liked all the rapids too. Personally, I really enjoyed being out with Jackson on the river, but the stretch that we paddled between Riverside Park and our house is heavily strained with fallen trees. I'm not a fan of portaging, which means a lot of careful paddling to make it around everything in the way. I also took out at the wrong end of the field behind our house, which meant one heck of a long haul carrying the kayak. Note to self: take out at the upstream corner of the cornfield, not the downstream corner.
River Depth at Ararat, NC gauge = 1.39 feet Discharge = 291 cubic feet per second
March 17, 2005. Note: Granite Falls has completely changed from the two runs I made through it. The river right line has been closed up and the river left line is more vertical and technical than before.
December 23, 2005.
Six days after my first paddle on The Ararat, Jeff and I decided to run it in our whitewater boats. We didn't find as much water in the river this time though and our progress in many spots were slowed as we tried to navigate over rock garden after rock garden.. The trip a week before fell three days after a good rain and I only rubbed the river bottom once during the first three miles. I also paddled five miles in 2.5 hours as opposed to the three miles we covered in 3 hours on this trip. Low water aside, it was a beautiful day to be outside and on the river. The water was perfectly clear and I was able to watch the trout swim right under our kayaks. I saw one nice 12 inch trout near the put in, then a school of thirty or so 8-10 inch fish further downstream. At the backup before Linville Road, I floated over a school of at least a hundred 6-8 inch fish. If I was more of a fisherman I could maybe tell you what the fish were, but it's hard to tell when you are looking straight down at them. A grouse flew out of the brush on the right river bank as Jeff glided past it.
We stopped at one of the more fun and picturesque sections so that I could clear out a tree blocking the exit from a small surf spot. (You can see the tree, now floating harmlessly, in this picture. )This not only ate up too much time as we wrestled with the tree, but Jeff also got wet getting in and out of his boat. He was getting pretty cold as the sun began to fall on our paddle to the falls next to the quarry. I was really looking forward to running these rapids in the whitewater boat. We had no time left to remove the tree blocking the river-left line, so I ran it river right. Jeff shot this footage as I once again missed the initial cut between the first two rocks and took the same diagonal path through the granite falls that I took last week. I can't wait to catch these falls when the water is up 6-12 inches. At this point we were running really late. I had estimated that the trip would take us two hours. We got started late and I only had two hours to kayak and get back to my house. The trip took an hour longer than planned, so we were really booking it to try and get off the water without being too late for my holiday dinner plans. When we hit the wide patch of no water right before our take-out at Riverside Park, Jeff and I just hopped out of our boats and drug them down the river. So the day ended in typical fashion for Jeff and I; cold, tired, and late. But I still had a fantastic day. And we now know the water level needed to paddle the Ararat. Hopefully we'll get the water we need and run this section again, because I enjoy this new found local run very much.
December 17, 2005. Just on the other side of a small patch of woods and a large cornfield lies the Ararat River. I'm not sure why I hadn't paddled it before. I didn't really know anything about it other than what you see as the river pass through town. So today was primarily a scouting trip to see if the river was worth running. Plus I just really wanted to get outside and on the water. I was on the river at eight am to paddle the four or five miles from the Johnson Creek/Ararat River confluence to where the Ararat passes behind my house. The temperature was 32F/0C at the put in, but warmed to 40F/4C by the time I took out. I paddled solo, which meant the Element instead of the GT. The first couple of miles north of town reminded me of the Dan River as it passes through Claudville. It was a surprisingly fun paddle. The first mile I was just happy to be outside and paddling. The second mile I was noticing how nice of a class I/II run it turned out to be. The water level drops once you reach the city , but north of town I found plenty of water and no rock gardens. One nice little section just north of the Linville Road backup was especially fun with huge boulders creating a maze of lines to take. Once you reach Linville Road the water backs up behind a rock pile-up next to the granite quarry. I had assumed the backup was from a dam and was ecstatic to find an awesome set of rapids instead. I debated portaging for probably ten minutes. I figured I had about a twenty percent chance of making it through dry in the rec boat. I knew that would mean a pretty cold swim, but as usual, I couldn't pass it up. A straight through line on river left was blocked by a tree, so I had to take a more technical line on river right. You can't be but so technical in an eleven foot boat though and the river and the rocks really did all the work for me. The line I had mapped out didn't pan out, but the one that the boat took me in worked much better and my big "Yeah, That's what I'm talking about!!!" echoed through the granite quarry on the left bank. The rest of the trip wasn't nearly as fun as the water level was lower and the river was peppered with strainers and rock gardens. So next time I will probably take out at Riverside Park rather than paddle all the way to my house. Plus that little patch of woods seemed a lot bigger and denser when I tried to drag my boat through it. And the portage across the corn field carrying a boat and gear wasn't the most fun. On the other hand, it rocked to be able to get out of the river, walk in my back door and get in a hot shower. I think Jeff and I are going to be able to use the upper three miles of this run a lot in our whitewater boats. I can't wait. (Note: I no longer have to drag the boat through the woods because a wide clear path has been made to the cornfield. The portage is now as simple as walking across a field to my house.)