Friday, July 11, 2014

Hiwassee River Paddle: 14.1 miles of fun!

A few weeks ago we joined a group of other paddle junkies for a float down the Hiwassee River.

Our group arrived early on a foggy morning.  It was a beautiful drive in as well.

This is one of my favorite types of paddling trips.  The river is dam controlled, meaning normally the river is too low to take a boat of any kind down it, but the power company releases water, usually on the weekends for recreational purposes, that brings the water level up high enough to take a kayak or canoe down.

Cool, clear water.  You can see right to the bottom.

What it also means is that there is a nice current to carry you down the river at speed, meaning you can cover more ground, see more stuff, and generally feel good about how far you've traveled.

Looking upstream, waiting for the dam release.

On a hot summer day, the cool, clear water from the dam is most welcome.

Looking downstream near the put-in point.

On this particular weekend, the TVA apparently didn't quite keep their published schedule, as the dam release was a little late. 

Stuck in a shallow area, waiting for the rising tide.

This created some delays, and also meant that instead of the expected fast-moving but plenty deep water, we had some shallow rocky areas to contend with, as well as some rapids.

Hanging out the the shade waiting.  Is it time to get moving?

Getting moving!

Aside from a few scrapes on the bottom of our boat, we made it through unscathed. 

Pumping out the boat after a big rapid.
One of the best parts about traveling with a good group of people is the leadership and planning that the organizers provide; it inspired confidence to travel with an organizer who had scouted this trip in advance.

Tiny fishes!
Eventually, the water release really caught up with us, and we really were able to enjoy the river.

Canadian geese, eh?

Peeking through the river bank at some hills.

This is what it looks like when a big group of paddlers stops for a break.

The leader scouts ahead.  (I like this photo.)

That's a cliff!

Apparently not all trees need soil.

The armada.

The muddy slalom of a takeout.

The takeout point was a steep boat ramp covered in three inches of slippery mud.  Despite most everyone wearing shoes that were far from conducive to the task, everyone pitched in and helped each other get out and get up the ramp.

The trip map computed by one of the organizers.

In a way, that was a fitting end for the trip: humping boats up a muddy ramp for people you barely know but shared a great experience with.  I can't wait to do it again.

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