A Gambles Mill Horror Story

Late last semester I went to a presentation that focused on how the University can better use the Gambles Mill Corridor. Turns out, it’s a fairly underutilized strip of pavement that the higher-ups want to turn into a notable campus feature. And truth be told, I honestly wasn’t at all surprised that the trail is largely ignored by the campus writ at large. When I saw the opening to the walkway, my initial thought was that the place looked like one of those creepy roads in horror films that protagonist’s feel the incessant need meander down. Don’t we always scream, “Don’t go down that path, fool!” and they always do and end up worse because of it? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. Besides, why would anyone want to take a gamble on Gambles Mill when there’s a beautiful golf course (okay so the grass hates winter; we’ll let that slide) right next door? Fortunately, us brave adventurous Earth Lodger’s aren’t afraid of no scary trees! Together, we boldly venture where few Richmond students have gone before.

Inside the corridor there’s one feature that unites everything in sight, and that is the color grey. Everything is grey! Grey grass; grey trees; grey pathways; grey sky; grey rocks; grey. In fact the only vibrant colors on the trail are the luscious green of the community garden and the red and white stripes of an iron post making itself known against a sea of deciduous detritus. (And of course the sycamore log that I rescued). Now, most of this grey color I attribute to the time of day, or perhaps a cloud eclipsing the sun, but none the less the simple pervasiveness of it was remarkable. It kind of opened my eyes something I had always known but never fully realized; you can’t control nature. Sometimes it can be vibrant and beautiful, others, grey and overgrown. This past Thursday was a grey-day.

Looking off the Gambles Mill trail we’re able to glimpse a small peek at nature left to her own devices, and it is overwhelming. Trees rest fallen on their barky brethren and bushes compete for their spot on the narrow strip of land flanked by the golf course and campus. Vines stretch to reclaim valuable retail space on erected telephone poles. Everything seen here is in a constant struggle for survival and the result is a chaotic and tangled brown web of life. Exploratory plants branch further and further outward in attempts to escape the twisted web behind them, but are stopped abruptly upon reaching the fence that separates and signifies a curious dichotomy between what belongs to man and nature.

If left unkempt, the Gambles Mill Corridor will remain on the fringe of Richmond campus and only a place of mystique to those who can appreciate Mother Nature’s alluring touch. But would we be overstepping our boundaries if we spruce it up a little bit? Build some bridges and new walkways? Try and encourage some color and interest from choice students? Would it be promoting nature? Or perhaps, it would simply be a finely groomed diversion, a golf course of a different color.

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One Response to A Gambles Mill Horror Story

  1. Mike says:

    On our second adventure down the GMT I took a step back from looking at the color of everything and began to think more about the implications that the trail has with the Richmond community. When looking at the master plan for the trail I have to admit that I’m a bit excited for the purposed changes. Increased accessibility to a shopping center and nicer trails that filter the runoff from the swales on the golf course are just a few of these purposed changes that I think will have a fairly substantial impact on campus culture.

    Together we walked nearly the entire length of the trail, enough to glimpse the Huguenot intersection, busy as ever, and I saw the trash and debris that other’s have mentioned in there blogs. In fact when I told some people about our walk the previous Thursday they were surprised that I had not mentioned the gross amount of litter on the trail. I suppose I had not been as observant as I had thought I was. More likely I just hadn’t reached that part of the trail yet and was too preoccupied with its beginnings.

    Perhaps the coolest thing I gleaned from the guided walk was where the stream paralleling the trail actually came from. I had no idea it was lake run off! This ties in with the article we read about how to properly maintain urban runoff and I have to wonder if our little guided stream, product of a damned up lake, is the proper way to deal with such hydraulics.

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