By Ben Moore
The Richmond paddling community is stoked on the falls of the James river, its watershed, and all the paddling opportunities they present. That is why, once a year, Riverside Outfitters
sends a cleaning mission deep into Forest Hill Park
and Richmond’s local class IV water — Reedy Creek. This cleaning mission involves removal of inorganic trash that has possibly floated all the way down from the headwaters near Midlothian Turnpike. Another goal of this poison ivy-laden endeavor is to clear logs that have fallen across the creekbed in the past year.
This is what you can do on Reedy Creek when the water’s high enough.
Reedy Creek is Richmond’s version of Appalachian whitewater during any downpour worth its barometric pressure. Even though it is short, it is the steepest, fastest water that a paddler can get on in town. Because of its proximity to the falls of the James, it is where many local high-volume paddlers cut their first steep technical lines before moving on to Nelson county and beyond.
As with any mountain bike or running trail in the James River Park System
, a downed tree across the trail is at least a nuisance and at worst a hazard. This is multiplied with running water underneath of the log. Paddlers refer to wood in current as strainers because they collect debris, enhancing their ability to function as a spaghetti strainer where a boat and paddler are the spaghetti with the force of the water pinning them in the strainer. Needless to say, this can end badly.
At the end of each summer, before the fall rains set Reedy off, Riverside
sends a group of dedicated paddlers and arborists to ‘clear the trail’ for the coming season. Saws are fired up and chunks of logs find a resting place in the brush beside the creek. Wednesday, September 19th, a bunch of tired hands went home to shower poison ivy away, knowing that during the next thunderstorm, paddlers on Reedy won’t have to worry about wood ruining their day as they bomb down through Forest Hill Park.
to see local photographer Rich Young’s before and after pics of Reedy Creek.
I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?