Tag Archives: Cowpasture River

Iron Gate, Virginia, January 2017

The past week’s cold facilitated a rare occurrence — the freezing of the Cowpasture River in Iron Gate.  My friend posted these yesterday.

I think that second shot is really damned cool.  I believe that’s the spot where the protruding rocks make the mini-rapids that they call “riffles.”





Camping at Iron Gate, Virginia, July 2016 (2)

Here are a few more pictures of our campsite on the Cowpasture River in Iron Gate, in Virginia’s Alleghany County.  The river snakes and winds throughout its 84 miles until it combines with the Jackson River to make the James River.  The Native Americans called it the “Walatoola,” or “Winding River.”  The arriving British renamed it, Wikipedia informs me — there are “Bullpasture” and “Calfpasture” rivers too, and they are all apparently named according to some confusing early American folklore involving stolen cattle.

The water was perfectly clear, and as warm as a mild bath after the late July sun hit it for a little while in the morning.  I remember thinking that my friends and I had an endlessly stretching hot-tub beside the place where we slept.

The riverbed and the hills through which it cuts are composed of jagged, gigantic jigsaw pieces of sedimentary rock — shale, sandstone and limestone — tilted askew.  They’re slippery.  But above those, in most places, are scattered wide beds of perfectly smooth, smaller stones that are comfortable to walk on.

There are often scores of small fish that hug the bank or quietly dart about the ankles of visitors wading in.  These are a staple for the eagles.  Flycasters, too, pursue larger quarry on the western bank, while people swimming and tubing stay to the right — I suppose this is river etiquette?

Upriver from our campsite, there are also “riffles” — miniaturized rapids that offer a bumpy but easy ride to anyone “tubing.”





House Stark’s invading army bivouacs on its way south to King’s Landing.  NOBODY GET MARRIED.



I found the ancient Native American Magic Machete of Legend beneath the river’s clear waters. Because I am strong and pure of heart. (I also found the ancient Native American stone cell phone.)

Wielding the legendary blade allowed me to walk on water, as you can see.  Having thus conquered it, I then claimed the river for New York.


I tried unsuccessfully to prank a friend by placing a Blair Witch stickamajig outside his tent.  Unfortunately, it kinda unraveled.  I even managed to position it outside the wrong tent, actually leaving it for a nice girl who had never seen “The Blair Witch Project.”  I was really off my game.


The quick, shy skink. After nearly two years in Virginia, I finally snapped a pic.  I indeed mean “skink,” and not “skunk.” It’s a lizard. It’s got a glittery blue tail, though you can hardly tell in these pictures.



Camping at Iron Gate, Virginia, July 2016

So the Mary Washington College alums finally shanghaied me into the annual campout at Iron Gate, Virginia (population 388).  It was amazing.

I saw a bear (on the ride home); a bald eagle; cows and horses; huge snorting hogs and friendly little piglets (hoglets?); a bat; a glittering blue-tailed skink; a wrinkly, red-faced turkey buzzard (up close); finger-length iridescent blue dragonflies; and innumerable wildflowers.

We smelled skunks too — several times along the way and once downtown in neighboring Clifton Forge.

This was all in the company of some amazing friends, schoolmates and their families — a couple of whom I haven’t seen in nearly a quarter century.


Approaching Iron Gate via Clifton Forge and the Allegheny Mountains in southwest Virginia.  What you see is not fog — these mountains are high enough so that the road runs parallel with the clouds.


The Cowpasture River and its vicinity.




Camp Nolan.  The bat is for bobcats or The Blair Witch.


The magic bacon-creating creatures of legend!!!


I made friends with these adorable bacon beans!  After I called them, they decided they liked me and tried to follow me out! I wanted to adopt one and name him “Delicious.”


Accidental overhead abstract mountain shot is creepy as f#%k.  I’m pretty sure this is the last thing a murder victim sees …


The first fireworks photos I’ve ever taken that have actually turned out.  I am 43 years old.