The leaves drifting from the trees in the Virginia mountains, signal the end to another canoe camping season. Min and I decided to go for one final run. It was unusually warm at Lake Moomaw up in the George Washington National Forest with temperatures in the 70s F during the day. It was a quiet couple of days with very little activity on the lake, and as usual we were the only paddlers on the lake. We had our pick of many campsites and enjoyed the peace and quiet. The only the sounds were from of shedding foliage, owls and birds of all types.
After setting up camp, we set out to gather firewood. One of the things I like most about Virginia camping is the abundance of firewood in these deciduous forests. There were countless fallen frees in the area that were nice and dry. The area also appears to be lightly camped and as such we did not have to look far to find what we needed. The Wetterlings Hunter’s axe with it’s wider wedge, made for light work of splitting in combination with my Ray Bears bucksaw. It was also a great opportunity to put my Finnish blade the “Enzo trapper” to use. It is a full tang work horse and can easily baton through wood to make kindling and is sharp enough to produce fine feathersticks.
We enjoyed some Japanese whiskey and took in the autumn beauty, Min even had some luck fishing off the coast. Of all the wildlife we heard, I was most surprised to hear the distinct cry of a couple of loons. Initially I thought my ears had deceived me – I didn’t think loons were this far south? However upon further research, it appears that many of them migrate south during this time of the year along the east coast and through Virginia.
Min was nice enough to prepare all of the meals for the trip. We ate some delicious chicken breasts with rice and beans for dinner. Min actually pre-cooked the chicken so all we had to do was heat it with the rice in the cooking pot. There’s nothing quite like a warm meal on a chilly night by the campfire. We ate under the stars with breathtaking visibility. The photos I took on this trip are from a sony a6000 that I’m still learning to use. In the morning for breakfast, we had egg white omelettes with green peppers and onions. Cooking with the Trangia alcohol stove is incredibly easy and has reduced preparation time drastically.
The stove weighs practically nothing and the fuel burns efficiently. We used to cook by campfire however soon learned that cleaning the soot off pots and pans took way too much time, not to mention the constant tending to the fire to assure a steady heat. The Svante Freden reflector oven from Sweden is also a must on canoe camping trips. It has been a trusty companion and we used it to to prepare some hot cornbread using a recipe courtesy of Ralph in Ottawa, Canada (much appreciated!).
To me, Lake Moomaw holds the title of a true Virginia gem. While there are several campsites in Virginia with lakes, only here can you get the backcountry experience of paddling to your site and setting up camp, far away from others. I can now say that I’ve camped here in 3 of the 4 seasons, spring, summer and now fall. Fall just might be my favorite. Great way to end the season.