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By Stephen Wright

Well, the day before Christmas yielded unseasonably warm weather in the Richmond area, which made for a great day at Z-dam! This followed a fantastic week in Fayetteville where I was fortunate enough to paddle Wolf Creek, Mann’s Creek, and 2 days of high water New River action. Big thanks to Bryan Kirk, who paddled with me every day and David Hughes for letting me stay in his house. BEAST!!!!

What is a Z-dam, you might ask? It’s a low-head dam shaped like a Z about 3/4 mile upstream from the Pony Pasture rapids on the James river. Fortunately there’s a fish passage notch, which creates an epic hole. This was the lowest level that I had been there, but it was still sick-o (the level was around 5.0 feet on the James @ Richmond gauge). I survived nearly death-inducing brain freezes to enjoy trying every trick I know. Paddling by myself had me cold and tired in about an hour, but I was sore and happy. I also worked on some combos, which I’ve hit in Reno, but never on film: loop to orbit, phonix monkey to orbit, and tricky wu to mcnasty. I didn’t manage the tricky-nasty here, but it goes great in Reno. The powers that be have added a sweet sign that tells onlookers about some kayaking tricks they might see while watching paddlers–I’d guess that this is to discourage hikers and cars from calling 911 to get a helicopter to come save some poor kayaker who seems to be stuck in the dam while being thrown end-over-end like a rag doll.

Enjoy the video–I especially enjoyed capturing the clip in the middle of the video with the white truck that drives by in the background, then backs-up the road sit and watch. I’m back to Rock Island now, enjoying paddling with EJ and playing disc golf in his back yard (he got 3 catchers for christmas), and waiting eagerly for Jessica to get here for New Year’s. Hope we get some more rain soon!

Live from Rock Island,
Stephen Wright