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Facing Death and Dismemberment in Richmond

My husband and I visited Richmond for the weekend as a Valentine’s Day getaway.

Ron and I on James River Pipeline Trail. Notice my tight grip on the handrail

One of our adventures proved heart-stopping. We innocently decided to enjoy the James River Pipeline Walkway. The need to descend to the trail via a metal ladder should have been an indication that we were not about to enjoy an easy stroll. The good news: The walkway follows a pipeline. The bad news: the pipeline is 8 feet above the James River.

As I get older, I get more nervous about things like walking along an elevated sewer pipe with steep drop offs to swirling river rapids. A catwalk with a hand rail is available for parts of the walkway. Other sections have no handrails and an uneven layer of dirt replaces metal tread ways. My husband thought it a great adventure. My knuckles were white from gripping the handrail. My heart was pounding not from love for my husband but from fear of losing my balance.

I could see the Richmond Times-Dispatch headline: Old Person falls from trail into James River. Body recovered in Hampton Roads.

When we finally reached the end, there was no relief. The trail was underwater due to higher than average rainfall. To exit, you had to LEAP over swirling waters onto a rock and climb up a hill side. My husband blithely made the jump and held out his hand for me to do the same. After thinking about it for roughly 10 seconds, I declined. When I fall into the arms of my husband I want to be on level ground.

I turned around. The metal staircase at the other end was a far more reliable exit.

Richmond offers so much to see and do—we visited the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the lively neighborhood of Careytown, the White House of the Confederacy, the Virginia State Capitol and Fountain Bookstore, “the quirkiest, heartwarmingest bookstore on the planet.”

I assure you all these places are a lot safer than the Pipeline of Fear Walkway.

My husband loved the excitment of this trail. I just worried about falling into the James River.

No guardrail. In honor of valentine' Day, my heart was pounding. But not from love...from fear!


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