I suppose it all starts with the name. Because you see, the New River, which courses its way across the spectacular landscapes of North Carolina and Virginia, is, rather amusingly, not very new at all. In fact, it’s widely considered to be among the oldest rivers in the world, tracing its lineage back some hundreds of millions of years, give or take an eon or two.
The irony in the name arises from the fact that when the European settlers arrived, they called it the ‘New River’ simply because it was the new river they discovered. An example of human simplicity if you will.
According to the scientists, those lovable lab-coat clad individuals who speak in terms only slightly more decipherable than an intoxicated groundhog, the New River is a venerable old geezer. It’s believed to have gracefully resisted the tectonic uplift that formed the Appalachian Mountains. The waterway’s course is a flowing testament to geologic rebellion, running south to north, in open defiance of its many eastern seaboard brethren.
Stretching for a respectable 360 miles, it meanders through gorges, valleys, and placid farmland, as if the river, not quite ready to concede to the ravages of time, is taking the scenic route through life. And what a life it must’ve been, witnessing the wax and wane of epochs, the dance of dinosaurs, the rise and fall of civilizations, all while carrying on with the soothing, persistent murmur of flowing water.
It’s a delightful spectacle of nature, whether you’re standing on the edge gazing into its depths, or better yet, paddling along its course. The section near the New River State Park in North Carolina provides a heavenly kayaking experience. With an easy gradient, it caters to a wide range of kayakers, from those with the overconfidence of beginners to the well-worn, sea-salt-in-the-veins sort of veterans. Not to mention, it’s also blessed with some of the most breathtaking scenery you could ask for, a nature’s art gallery curated by the hands of time.
As I paddled down this ancient waterway, taking in the limestone cliffs and evergreen forests lining its banks, the sun warming my skin, the water cooling my heels, I felt an immense sense of calmness. It’s easy to see why our pagan ancestors might have regarded rivers as gods. They are potent and gentle, dangerous and comforting, old and yet, forever new.
So there you have it – the New River. An old, winding trail of water with a youthful spirit, a place where time has meandered in strange loops and swirls, much like the river itself. A reminder of the past and an inspiration for the present, just waiting for us to dip in our paddles and join the flow. Because that’s the thing about rivers, they’re always on the go, much like life. And as the old saying goes, you can never step into the same river twice.
Several weeks ago, before the Canadian ‘Cannabis’ smoke came South, I shot this drone video of the New River and one of its many tributaries.
Celebrating God’s God Creation