In late Summer 2007, I took several long hikes in the James river between the Powhite Parkway Bridge and Belle Isle. I hopped on rocks normally submerged along the various paths I took — available due to a period of drought and low water levels in the river.
Those hikes left a lasting impression on me and helped fuel my appreciation for the James. The discoveries I made on those hikes continue to drive my quest to explore the river.
I tried to stay relatively dry. My goals were to see as many spots as I could — things that one would never get to see from the shoreline or at normal river levels.
The visual from the middle of the river is so much more appealing than seeing the river from a bridge, shoreline or beach. At that time, I had not become a paddler. I’ve since purchased two kayaks, and I think these hikes had something to do with that inspiration.
When the water is as low as it was (below 2 feet), it is clear and slow-moving. Many little pools are formed. Fish and other aquatic life get trapped. Rocks, grasses and driftwood are exposed. Many man-made obstacles like levees, dams, pipelines, pillars from old bridges, etc., are also revealed.
I took my son with me on one of the hikes. Mitchell was four years old that summer. He was so happy as he explored on his own, playing and asking occasional questions about nature and the river. We do our best to keep putting our kids in the river and encouraging them to appreciate the outdoors.
I made slideshows from the 100s of photos I shot and posted them on the expired Discover Richmond website that I maintained for Media General at that time. Someday these too will be deleted, but until then, have a look:
- Hike 1: Boulevard to Powhite Parkway Bridge
- Hike 2: North Bank to Belle Isle
- Hike 3: Main Section of the James River Park System
Being able to take time to enjoy myself and explore was a great asset to me in that period of my life, and I still try have as many adventures as I can. I was able to transfer much of what I discovered and photographed into articles, slideshows and video for my job. Often, I would find something I needed to know more about, do a little research and end up writing about it for the website. I miss that outlet — getting paid for my adventures.
The photos in the gallery below are from those three hikes. I don’t have the larger originals, but click any of the photos for a larger size. I have several that I’m proud of.