Wednesday, March 22, 2017

That First Paddling Trip

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to accompany a couple friends on their first major paddling trip of any distance or length, a journey not to be downplayed, since your first only happens once!

Think back to your first big, memorable trip, I’m sure you can fondly remember it, and hopefully toss a nice #joy onto the end. I remember my first, and yes, I’m going to describe it a bit…if not for your enjoyment, then more for my nostalgia! 

It was spring of 2011, when I lived in Southwest BC. I hadn’t really been creeking at that point (besides Upper Gordon, Koksilah Canyon and Mill Bay Creek on the island), when I joined Annie, Denny, Geoff, Ben and Tony (if I’m not mistaken) for a trip into Washington during Easter long weekend. We ran Canyon Creek Stilly, Canyon Creek Lewis and East Fork Lewis, a pretty standard trip by class IV standards. I just remember rolling constantly…not much has changed. lol. If you want, you can read more in depth about it here:

Edwin, Simon and myself headed south from Québec City to the general vicinity of the US Mid-Altantic and South East this time with no particular plan too much in mind, except a general desire to hit West Virginia goods, eventually make our way to the Green in North Carolina, then back up to meet some friends and finish off with good water levels in West Virginia. It was my third trip down in that general area (it’s become a bit of an early winter/spring tradition for me).

Of course, true to form, our friends would end up cancelling their trip entirely, we’d end up doing a ton of flow hunting…which means driving..due to low water everywhere, and eventually wind up in Tennessee and Alabama on the southeastern US plateau…all par for the course. Paddling sometimes is just that, especially when you have little choice when your time off take what you can get!

I really couldn’t care less…I was personally just happy to get in some kayaking on rivers that weren’t frozen and enjoy some temps above 10 degrees celsius…as were the boys!

We got on some awesome runs down there, I got to see some new stuff, we met a ton of new friends, and it will make it that much easier for next time to predict flows and know where and what to hit based on water levels… and like they say, it’s not what you paddle, it’s who you paddle with that makes a trip. I was so happy to have boys with me stoked to just hit whatever, and who didn’t mind driving a bit for the goods. We also got in the perfect mix of camping and motels/hotels to dry gear and ourselves, as well as cooking and dining in restaurants (we found a particularly good one near the North Chick in Chattanooga called Lakeside I believe, take note…!).

I cranked out my camera for the first time since the rafting championships at Tewksbury in September and actually got some decent pics as well. I’m hoping to get back in the swing this year and hit the spring season hard…next up is the New Haven Ledges Race April 1st in Vermont, maybe Smalls Falls April 15th in Maine then some nice trips to West Virginia and maybe Gaspesie this spring…along with some more Montréal area goods before Québec really gets going again around Neilson Race time…man life is good!

We ended up getting on Lower Big Sandy, Russell Fork, Chatooga Section IV, Green Upper and Narrows, Upper Tellico (Ledges), Cain Creek (just above Vortex) into North Chicaugaugamus, Little River Canyon (yes, all 12 miles and the falls), and finished with a stop at Rock Island before heading back.

Edwin dismounting boats

Edwin continuing to dismount boats as I try to  impress with my photography skills...

Simon on Baby Falls

Edwin on Baby Falls

Eliott runs his first waterfall!!!! We found him abandoned on the side of the road and took him in with our group!

Simon on Bald River Falls

Edwin on Bald River Falls

Grady at Vortex

Simon drops into Vortex, a great rapid!

Grady on North Chick Falls

Simon with a less than ideal Little River Canyon Falls line!

Edwin stretches the boof on LRC Falls

Edwin in the midst of Terminal Eddy

Simon pays for his performance at the falls... we all pay eventually!!

Rock Island action

More Rock Island action...what a beauty place!