Posts Tagged ‘Reedy Creek’

Dusk vs. dawn on the James

Dusk vs. dawn. Vibrant colors and distinct features on one hand and shadows and blinding sunlight on the other. 

I had the pleasure of two distinctly different points of view over the same James River water course — from Pony Pasture Rapids down to Reedy Creek. One late in the evening and the other just after dawn, with both trips offering challenges and appealing features.

The physical aspects and timing of the two were the same. The visuals, however, were extremely different and each trip had their own flavor.

James River Railway Bridge at duskFor the evening trip, my brother-in-law, Mark Pruett, and I left from Pony Pasture at around 7:30 p.m. The sun was already setting, and immediately we knew it would be a good run. I had never paddled the James that late in the day and was amazed by the colors brought out by the angle of the sun, which is behind you as you head east down river. The trees, rocks, bridges were so distinctive and colorful. It was beautiful.

I’ve provided a shot of the James River Railway Bridge (also known as the Atlantic Coast Line Railway Bridge or Belt Line Bridge) to show the coloring at that time of day — around 8:10 p.m. with sundown at around 8:40 p.m.

James River Railway Bridge at dawnFor the morning run, my friend George McCurrach and I put in at 6:30 a.m., before I had to go to work. The sun was rising in front of us and was at times blinding.  Obviously the colors were dimmed or lost in shadows. The temperature that morning was already near 80 degrees so there was no morning mist or fog to give the river any eerie appearances.

The James River Railway Bridge was again a feature, but very different colors were on display in the morning. This photo was taken at around 7:10 a.m. and the sun came up at around 6 a.m.

For better photographic opportunities and the fact that I wasn’t blinded, I’d choose an evening run. A morning run sets the day up nicely and gives me the rest of the day to work and live life (despite the sleep deprivation).  

It is still a toss-up, though in general I prefer paddling in the morning — watching nature wake up is generally more exciting than shutting down for the night.

In either case, the sun’s low position in the sky caused a lot of glare on the water, hiding many large boulders lurking just inches below the glassy surface.  We bumped plenty of unseen rocks on both trips.

Camping on the James River during fireworksOne great thing about our morning run was that it was the morning after Independence Day and we saw several camps on the islands east of the James River Railway Bridge — the ideal location to watch fireworks and experience the outdoors.

It wasn’t ideal in 2006, when at least a dozen people gathered on the rocks on the river near the Boulevard Bridge were attacked and robbed by a group of teenagers with rocks and bats during the July 4th fireworks at Dogwood Dell. That smirch or our city has made many people cautious about being on the river during fireworks. It was great to see these folks there and I’m sure they had the best seat for the Dogwood Dell show.


Tiniest turtle down at Reedy Creek

My wife and I had just ended a paddle from Huguenot to Reedy Creek.  It was her first run, and we had an afternoon without the kids, and just the river to entertain us.

She listened to me all day (in reality, an entire year) talking on and on about Warren Foster, a great lover of the James that I’d met through randomly-orchestrated maneuvers I made in hopes of doing a story on him (which I did).

The maneuvers involved me leaving a note for Warren at gate of Pony Pasture’s parking lot, the best place for him find it. He volunteers for the James River Park System, taking care of nearby Williams Island and unlocking the gates to Pony Pasture every day.

I knew of him because I’d asked park manager Ralph White how Warren got his name on a sign on the portage trail at Williams Island. Ralph said Warren was a volunteer, but that he didn’t have his phone number…. Anyway. my trick worked and Warren called me the next day. He also ended up introducing me to the Atlas of the James, which I’ve used heavily in my research and adventures.

Back to my story.

Sure enough, Warren surprisingly paddles up in his old and scarred sit-on-top kayak same time we did at Reedy Creek at the end of our run.  We were amazed at the coincidence, but considering that Warren is on the river as much as God will allow him to be, the percentages weren’t that low. 

So while we were exchanging more James river stories, an amazing thing happened.

Tiniest turle

Tiniest turtle

We looked down at a little brown “rock” MOVING. Digging its way out of the sand along the shoreline at the takeout.  It was a turtle — maybe a river cooter or a snapping turtle (I checked with this JRPS page). Smallest thing I can imagine, probably the size of an acorn.

We marvelled at nature, exchanged a few more stories and remarks and headed home. Warren noted that my kayak had a few more scuffs and scratches on it, which reminded me of his best quote that I often reuse: “It doesn’t get scratched up sitting in the garage.”

That kayak trip was in October of 2008.  I hope to get down to Reedy Creek for a walk or two — if not a paddle — and see if the wonders of nature are again in full swing. Turning rocks into turtles….

Trish's hand looks huge in comparison

Trish's hand looks huge in comparison