One of my most memorable moments from the 2011 James River Expedition was waking up early one morning on the lower James and paddling past the Ghost Fleet, a set of rotting ships originally anchored in the James as a defense fleet. We packed up the canoes half awake that morning but were rewarded with a beautiful view of the sun rising and the moon setting at the same time, a glow stretching over massive amounts of water that makes up the wide mouth of the lower James. Our attempt to finish the day's paddle before the tide came came in was respectable, but the James River would not allow it that afternoon. I remember my partner and I paddling s hard as we could to beat the tide and a powerful headwind and still looking at the same tree on river right for a full three minutes. Given a reminder of how overwhelming the miles of the seemingly clam flatwater of the wide lower James can be, I enjoyed the best nap of my life that afternoon when we all rafted up to wait out the tide under a bridge.
The paddle to Chuckatuck Creek that day was the last long day the 2011 Expedition would have together in the canoes. I felt sad knowing that our group would only have a few days left together that night, but today, on the eve of another adventure on the lower James, I'm getting really excited! I've learned that I don't remember as much about the intimate banks of the upper James as I thought, so I can't wait to start the 2012 Lower James River Expedition tomorrow and see what else I've forgotten. The group can look forward to an amazing day of meeting the James at one of its most dramatic points, the Fall Line in downtown Richmond, one of the few places that skyscrapers can be seen from Class IV rapids. Let the paddles hit the water.