BatteauBent Creek Site of the JRBFGalt's Mill site of the JRBF

JRBF – Sunday June 17th to Monday June 18th, 2018, Camp Monican II campsite to Bent Creek.

Father’s Day, Sunday June 18th, 2018, was a beautiful day on the river. The JRBF camped in Galt’s Mill on Saturday night. David Haney, Site Manager, said everything went real good and it was a pretty quiet night. Having worked 3rd shift near Lynchburg, a private put-in at Greif Brother’s mill (near Christian’s Island on the James) was really great. The plan was to catch up to the batteaux and take photos at places like Higgenbothom Falls. After shuttling to the Bent Creek Boat Ramp, Dr. William E. Trout, III drove me back to the canoe at Camp Monican II Boy Scout camp by the Mill. 

The river looked beautiful along the beach. A man was gathering hay in the field and came down to the river. A family that the father worked at the mill were enjoying the day paddling the river and stopped there for a break. Another group came in and set up a table and tablecloths and a grill for their Father’s Day outing! 

After waiting a long time, I finally decided to go ahead and leave. Usually the batteaux come by that spot around lunchtime. I heard later that they were leaving later and were not in a big hurry. The standing waves at Wreck Island Falls were great fun! Floating on down past the mill the day was starting to get warm and shade was my friend. 

Higgenbothom Falls had a good amount of water. I decided to go around the right of the big rock and eddy out behind the rock and try to get some photos. Getting out of the canoe and standing around that rock became too much to take. It was sooooo hot I gave up on the idea of sitting there for hours and waiting on the batteau. I guess photos there weren’t meant to be that day. A group of inexperienced canoeists  followed behind me going through the rapid and a heavy set man on the back dumped over the canoe while the thin man on the front of the canoe did the classic gunwale grab. Speaking to them afterwards they only had one paddle. I gave them a good talking to about that and went off on the skinny guy about the metal cans and trash strewn on the side of the river. I told him to pass it on to the next person he sees with trash like that!

Floating on down the looooooooong straight away section where years ago as Captain of the batteau James River I loved sleeping on the box and swimming. After finally getting past that stretch the current picked up a bit and the rest of the way to Bent Creek boat ramp was real nice and peaceful. I saw a muskrat swimming in the river. It had a long round tail and dove down in the river and went up into a big log. Fish could be seen in the clear water and many places seeing the different rocks was amazing, like the white veins of rock in the darker rocks.

After taking the canoe out and going to the campsite on the other side of the bridge, it was nice having set up the tent the day before. The heat was really bad though. It took a long  time to try and cool down. Vito’s Pizza truck was there and I split a huge pizza with Jeff Taylor as we discussed the website etc. Gradually the boats started coming in but by that time of the evening it was getting dark and it was not a good time to take pictures. 

The evening was nice with old friends visiting by the campsites. Sleeping in the new tent was nice. Finally in the night the air  cooled down enough to sleep!

Morning came quick. Getting out with the camera while there is some fog is always a great way to start the day. Gradually the camp came alive. People brushing teeth and taking down camp and getting ice when the man arrived with the ice trailer. The batteau crews got everything ready to go. The sun shining against the boats with the bridge in the background was awesome. Even Katy and Mason Basten made it in to the site in the old old old batteau Virginia Creeper! Chris did his customary pose for the website and Mason Basten was clowning around and it was good visiting. Former JRBF Chairman, David Haney, was on the Madison with Mike Lee, both batteau men that know the river well. The Madison was only going to the State Park.

The batteaux hopefully arrive in Wingina tonight. Today is expected to be in the 90’s and hotter than Sunday. Whoa. The first stretch of river between Bent Creek and a couple of miles down is notorious for being very very difficult. I wished the boats well as they departed Bent Creek and hope they don’t have to get out and push too much. The water was dropping all day on Sunday.

Holt Messerly