Local paddler Ben Moore and friends decided they were going to make the most of Frankenstorm Sandy. Here’s his report:
By Ben Moore
Every summer a group of RVA paddlers gets together to clean the wood out of Reedy Creek in Forest Hill Park before the coming rainy season. When that is accomplished, we get to reap the rewards. Hopefully this explains why we volunteer to cover ourselves in poison ivy during the August humidity to remove logs and debris from a stream that only gets enough water in it to paddle a handful of times a year.
Pumpkinhead battleboards Reedy Creek.
Reedy Creek really is a hidden gem in Richmond. We in the paddling community are grateful for the stoke it provides. As a new paddler, before you ever run Reedy, you hear stories about it. About how to even approach it you have to commit to heading out in the nastiest of weather. About how you have to climb through poison ivy and briers to scout it. And the smell of the water, more than anything else, you hear stories about how gross the water is draining off Midlothian Turnpike during a heavy downpour. You have to come to terms with all of that before you get to paddle the steepest rapids in RVA. The conditions alone you have to put yourself in to get to the paddling part lend it a sort of coming-of-age quality as a paddler in RVA.
The first time I hauled a boat down toward Reedy’s storm runoff I was shivering. I don’t remember how cold and wet I was, but I do remember being nervous. Like real nervous. Okay, scared. I went in with buddies who I looked up to as paddlers and trusted on the James at high water. Also, they had paddled Reedy before. It is always a good idea to follow someone who knows the lines when you paddle something new. I remember leaning off the South railing of the Forest Hill bridge to see that the water was up to at least the bottom of the river left graffiti under the bridge. Check. As we slogged upstream on Bland Street to the first slide I remember listening to my buddies talk about being ready to eddy out quickly because wood is always shifting down there. I felt as if I was about to drop into some offshore reef break or some unknown wilderness river. But looking left, we could see light shining out from warm dry Forest Hill living rooms. Maybe I should be in there instead? Nope. That anxiety is necessary as a precursor to the amazing feeling you earn fromdoing anything worth doing.
Describing the feelings of the actual “doing of the thing” never work out as well as planned. So, I wont try to talk you through every twist and turn. We will leave it knowing I was far from disappointed, just the opposite, Reedy delivered and I was hooked.
The author with some light reading.
Recently I have taken up a new paddling discipline, battleboarding. It is letting me feel all those new creepy crawlies while paddling old favorites just like I did when I was first learning how to surf or kayak. The stoke is high.
Often, music and moving images can convey that feeling better than the words we write. I believe this is one of those times
. Fellow RVA battleboarder, Dave Fary
, was kind enough to shoot and edit this video
of Sandy putting some water into our beloved Reedy.
Turn the music up enough to feel something farther back than your frontal lobe. Reedy is a full immersion experience. Enjoy it, we always do.
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?