On Wednesday, July 22 (2015) World Kayak held it’s second Hometown Throwdown on the James River in Richmond, Virginia. The level of the James was typical for this time of year, somewhere between 3.5-4.0’. The event was attended by some familiar faces, and some new ones. Adam Tremper, our “King of the James” (a title earned at a non-affiliated event earlier this year) took top prize. Finishing a close second was Isaac Hull, an up-and-coming local junior competitor.
Sometimes I ask myself, “why am I in Richmond, Virginia?”. There’s a good food scene, true. While it’s better known for it’s “punk rock” scene, it does attract its’ share of other musical talent (another plus). And I consider it a solid jumping off point for a lot of other destinations (music venues, beaches, mountains, and big water eastern US rivers). But at the end of the day the best thing about Richmond, at least for me (and I know I’m not alone), is the James River and the year-round paddling opportunities this river represents.
So besides my usual paddling on the James, I did take a recent trip to paddle something new. Recall earlier I stated that Richmond is a good jumping off point…
So late last month I drove 4 hours west to the New River Gorge (NRG) in Hico, West Virginia. July 17-19 marked Coastal Canoeists (local paddling organization) quarterly meeting. This event was held at a campground near the New River Gorge. For those not familiar with the New, it offers some excellent Eastern US big water paddling. It’s a high volume, powerful river chock full of class III-IV rapids (at normal flows). It is one of five oldest rivers in the world, geologically speaking.
My trip was a short one and followed days of rain in the area. The New River was running above optimal flows (relatively speaking of course) at around 4 ft, which was still lower than it had been running in the days prior. Two groups set out that day to paddle, one advanced and the other more beginner/intermediate. I opted for the advanced paddle on the Cranberry River (it’s more of a creek).
The Cranberry was a good run. It has some gradient and a number of tight ledge drops through numerous boulder gardens. What made it even more technical (at least for me) was the lower than optimal flow; which of course brought more rocks into play and created an obstacle course of sorts (I paddle a Jackson Karma – aka big boat). It was a beautiful scenic run and one that I would recommend if you’re lucky enough to be in the area and catch it running.
And I will get back this year to paddle the New River Gorge; maybe Labor Day weekend.
Finally, World Kayak Richmond is gearing up to host another Hometown Throwdown event (HTTD #3) on the Lower James River. Stay tuned to World Kayak Richmond’s Facebook page for event details.