“A state-recognized Virginia treasure,” I say as I pull up to the infamous Johns Creek, a jewel of southwestern Virginia that, until recently, was illegal to paddle due to a landowner dispute. Located just 30 minutes from downtown Roanoke and with 5.5 miles of continuous class IV, Johns is a 9-to-5 working boater’s wet dream.
In 2015, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) deemed the creek navigable, and therefore accessible to the public. Since that fateful decision, I had been eager to paddle the legendary run. I had grown up listening to tales of rapids with names that made me want to pee a little, like “Separator” and “Bambi Meets Godzilla.” So, after a few days of rain in the valley, I head to the put-in to make my personal first descent of Johns Creek.