Written by Holly Carlson, SheJumps Southeast Host
Cars filed in one by one to the 22nd street parking lot of the James River Park System. We all squinted through our rain splattered windows to see if we could recognize other jumpers. We are talking downpour. It was a crack-your-window-and-get-soaked kind of downpour. Finally a break in the rain allowed us to get out of our cars and make quick introductions followed by “should we do this?”
First, a little bit of hesitation knowing the deluge would return, and then, in the true SheJumps spirit, a resounding “Let’s do this! Why not? We are already wet!”
13 women and 2 adventurous 6 year old girls started out on the buttermilk trail towards Belle Isle. We crossed over the train tracks on the pedestrian bridge and the heavy rain started back up again. After a quick check, only a few ladies had turned back while the majority of the group ventured on.
Belle Isle is the perfect urban hike with interesting history at many points along the way tied to the civil war and early industry. There was a civil war prison there that held 10,000 union soldiers, and we passed the site of an old graveyard where union POWs had once been buried. There are many abandoned structures leftover from a number of industrial operations beginning with a nail factory and a mill in the same decade in the early 1800s.
We stopped by the Belle Isle Bike Skills Course for a photo op and when it really started dumping buckets of rain, decided if you can’t beat it, join it and all participated in some hardcore puddle jumping, cuz, you know SheJumps right?
We ventured onward to the James River where the water level had risen quite a bit since I scouted out the hike, and we admired the beauty of such a wild place in the middle of our amazing little city.
The little ones were the most adventurous and even though it was getting darker by the minute, kept us going with their lanterns and headlamps.
We altered the route a bit and took the traditional loop to save time where we passed an old quarry now used for rock climbing. We hustled a bit to beat the darkness, but paused to enjoy the view of the Lee Bridge from the pedestrian bridged back to the parking lot.
After a soggy drive to Legend Brewery, we dined, bonded, and learned more about SheJumps. It was an evening to remember with a great group of ladies who wouldn’t let the less than stellar conditions get us down!
A huge thank you to all of the ladies that came out and braved the torrential rains with us, as well as to our partners at Backcountry and Michelle Perry with Rodan + Fields for the great raffle items! We look forward to more Richmond events in the outdoors…hopefully without a deluge!