The Gambles Mill Corridor borders the exclusive Country Club of Virginia, where to my surprise, golfers can still tee off in mid-January. The trail began with the university community garden, wood chips, chopped trees, and mulch, but quickly transitioned into a more natural setting. Woven clusters of vines were spattered with leaves and fallen branches lined the trailside thereafter.
I spent most of my time exploring a small stream that snaked its way through the woods. Two drainage pipes fed the stream and its cool waters moved through sand bottomed pools and rocky riffles. The tightly packed leaves driven upon the rocks were indicative of the stream swelling from the previous day’s rain. Following the current, I came upon wild chives on the embankment. The distinct smell immediately reminded me of the herbs my family grows in our backyard every year. Deeper into the woods, I came upon what looked like a well or maybe a raised flowerbed. It contained one metal rung and was only a foot or so deep, which made me unable to distinguish its original purpose. Its bricks and cement were weathered with moss, rocks, and leaves having taken over the interior of the structure. It appeared as if the woods were reincorporating the “well” back into its domain. Subtle hints of human presence could also be seen in the stream by the well. Old clay-colored pipes made a small dam and formed a broad pool. Only upon noticing the pipes, did I realize how much the bank wall had risen from less than a foot to at least four feet. It was startling how quickly the riverbank rose in the course of a hundred feet.
Just as astonishing, was the trash I saw along the way. Amidst thorny bushes lay crushed beer cans and in the distance, I saw plastic bottles. On my way out, I even spotted a wayward golf ball and Westhampton/Richmond College cup. Eventually, a series of storms and flooding could eventually flush the trash into the stream and enter the watershed. On a warm day, I hope to go out with a trash bag and collect the junk I passed on my way out. Maybe with some help? I hope to make the stream near the well my place to revisit during the spring and, if not, just make it a little cleaner.