The South Anna River forms the northern border of Twin Oaks Property. The very first time I came to Twin Oaks, I was excited about the fact that the property was “on the river.” Many of my associations with “on the river” have been formed in Maine, where “on the river” conjures up images of cool, clear water running over boulders and into pools, with a plethora of summer swimming holes. Or in Florida, where “on the river” conjures up images of canoeing through swamp and forest primordial, surrounded by cypress knees, natural springs, manatees, egrets, and alligators. My first encounters with the South Anna were a bit of a letdown. At first glance, the South Anna as seen from Twin Oaks is not exactly majestic:
It’s brown, pretty much opaque. It’s moving, but not very fast. It doesn’t look appealing to swim in, even on a hot day. In my first years at Twin Oaks, I made several canoe trips along the river, which were entertaining but not inspiring, lacking the bouldery drama of northern rivers and the potentially deadly wildlife of the Florida swamp. Before we had kids, Mala and I spent one fairly epic day canoeing down to Acorn and hitching home (which is a story for another day), which was actually a beautiful canoe ride, and one which I would like to repeat now that our babies have grown into children.
Today, I just walked the forest along the bank of the river. The first matter was figuring out exactly where the NW corner of our property began. Our property lines are STP creek and the S. Anna, so it should be fairly easy to figure out where they join. Oddly, just before the creek empties into the river, it takes a long S-curve to the left, creating a skinny narrow penninsula where our land juts into the neighbor’s. Some enterprising soul hung a number of hammock chairs in the trees right at the confluence. Given the amount of bramble and poison ivy that one would have to wade through in the warmer season to get to this spot, I wonder if anyone actually uses these chairs.
and on the mud was the track of some water-loving bird or mammal.
For the first few hundred yards, there is a nice trail leading east along the very edge of the river. The forest along the riverside is brushy and, during warm months, a carpet of poison ivy. There are some nice-enough views of the none-too-scenic-river, and a handful of impressively large trees, like the birch pictured below.
After a while, the trail peters out. Further downstream, it is easy enough (at this time of year at least) to bushwhack through the dense, boggy woods, but unless you feel like pushing through lots of dense bramble, one wouldn’t want to actually try to stay close to the water.
Eventually, the bramble becomes so dense that it’s impossible to even see the river. Further to the east, the forest sinks into impassible muck, and ends at a large cowfield (also part of Twin Oaks land) that was muddy enough to dissuade me from even considering attempting to walk through it. So I turned away from the river and walked back home through a different bit of woods (more on that another day).