Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kayaking the Clinch River

Kayaking the Clinch River

So Tabitha and I joined a group centered around water sports in our area.  This past weekend, we had a chance to join twelve other locals for a 10 mile trip down the Clinch River.  I brought my little waterproof camera along for the ride.

Perfect weather
Our trip took us through the Clinch Mountain valley.  The weather was perfect, with a high near 80, plenty of sunshine, and a gentle breeze.

Us in our rented rubber ducky
We don't have any gear of our own (yet), so I was very happy that we were able to rent an inflatable tandem kayak, pfds and paddles from one of the meetup organizers.  I had some experience with a canoe, and with both of us in the same boat it was a good way to get acclimated and comfortable with a kayak.

Two-person inflatable kayak was a challenge to keep moving
The kayak was a beast to keep moving.  It's my understanding that sitting lower in the water as it does makes it slower and more cumbersome.  We got quite a workout just keeping pace with the group.

Veterans Memorial Bridge
We launched in Norris just below Wear's Dam and took out at the Veterans memorial bridge in Clinton.  It was really convenient to have an organized group that had the shuttling back and forth all figured out.
It's true!

Our trip was timed to take advantage of the release schedule of the dam, so that we would both have high water levels and a strong current to help us along.  The release was also what made the water so chilly, and while the inflatable was self-bailing, I was sitting in a puddle most of the trip.  Fortunately the weather was warm, so I didn't mind too much.

Helmets optional!
The river was considered a Class I described by the organizer as "smooth water; light riffles; clear passages, occasional sand banks and gentle curves. The most difficult problems might arise when paddling around bridges and other obvious obstructions."

Clear water
The scenery was exceptional, with clear water down to the bottom at times, beautiful trees, rocks, and hills all around and very little sign of man.  It made me consider how lucky we are to live so close to such places.

Good bunch of people!

The best part of the trip, however, was the excellent company the meetup group provided.  Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and we didn't get any pressure or judgement from anyone, which isn't always the case when you invade the space of others' hobbies.  The fourteen of us, with clearly different backgrounds, all joined together to share a relaxing journey down a lovely river at the perfect time of year.

Stopping for a snack
Overall, it was quite an experience.  The kind that made us want to do more of this activity, and perhaps integrate kayaking into our future travel adventures.

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