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Friday, July 27, 2012

Day Four: Westover to Fort Pocahontas

What a day! Due to an unruly rooster, everyone was awake today in our luxurious bamboo forest before the 5:30 wake up call. After some energizing oatmeal, we hit the water, excited for our next destination and for seeing the cypress trees we had heard about.  During our paddle, we made time for a dip in some deep lower James water. We practiced our diving skills and expended a lot of energy trying to reach an oyster bed on the river bottom while wearing lifejackets. We were sad to discover, though, that even if we were to touch the beds we wouldn’t be able to roast our bounty because oysters from the James River are not yet safe for human consumption.

Leaving the shaded bamboo forest at Westover
Paddling through the "dreamy" bald cypress

We stopped for lunch deep in the wilderness, parking our canoes in some notorious James River mud. Our paddle after lunch was a “dreamy,” surreal experience through a maze of cypress tree knees and roots. Getting to camp, we kicked into gear again, unpacking in five minutes so that we could enjoy an hour of fun jumping off the dock at our night’s campsite, Fort Pocahontas.

Pre-storm dock jumping at Fort Pocahontas

Paddling hard to make miles

Suddenly! Just as we went back to work to finish setting up camp, we were greeted with a monstrous storm that put us in our place! We were awed by wind that tore our tarp to pieces and blew the branches off trees. We found temporary shelter in a guest house at Fort Pocahontas, where we will spend the night. Taking inventory after the storm, we noticed some damage to the gear we had abandoned, a small price to pay for the group’s safety and for how much closer we became as a group during the storm and working hard together to clean up. The day ended on a cheery note when we spotted the second double rainbow of our trip and an amazing hypnotic sunset after the storm. 

Playing games while seeking shelter during the storm
Surveying the damage
The sunset after the storm was an incredible sight

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