Monthly Archives: July 2017

Don’t Go Chasin’ Waterfalls.

26000At this point, blowing my own tooter about a new milestone is pretty much pointless, as I set and break records all the time. That said, there is another one. Two, actually. To start with, another perfect month on the Apple Watch. That’s – I dunno – however many months between this one and December of 2015. A lot of months. And 611 consecutive days hitting my numbers. Huzzah. In addition, I crossed 26000 miles on my FitBit – that’s in just over 4 years. So, basically, that’s the equivalent of having run 1000 marathons in 4 years. Impressive? I don’t know – but I’m happy with those numbers. I’ve had to slow down a little bit the past week – you guessed it, another injury. A pretty severe one this time (frick). I don’t even feel like getting into it – I just hope I’m back to 100% soon, because it’s seriously screwing up my paddling mechanics, as well as my iron-pushing at the gym.

Injury notwithstanding, I decided to have a paddle Saturday. Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned. I had studied my maps, talked to some people, and intended to put in on West Chickamauga Creek at Cloud Springs Road, and paddle up across the state line to Camp Jordan, maybe farther (on the same creek I had the aborted paddle on a few weeks ago). So, was at the gym at 3 AM, then popped into Home Depot (since it was right near the put-in, and I’d been needing to go), then found the kayak/canoe ramp. As I always do on new locations, I walked down to the water before unloading, and as soon as I got close to the creek, I could hear roaring water. Not a good sign. So, I walked downstream (which is north), and sure enough, there was a small waterfall (only maybe 1 or 2 feet high) and rapids under the roadway. I could have made it down easily enough; but I wasn’t sure I could make it back up, or what other surprises awaited me on the creek. Because of the aforementioned injury, I’m only able to paddle at maybe 50%, so I quickly formulated a Plan B.

Cloud Springs Road - click for larger

Cloud Springs Road – click for larger

Plan B was the paddle I had planned for Sunday – Hales Bar Dam. A good 40 miles in the other direction from where I was. So, I didn’t actually get to put in until almost 8, but the weather was great with no threat of rain, so time was not a concern. I put in at Marion County Park; the same place I put in for the first attempt at the TGA (which was called due to weather). This time, though, instead of going under I-24, I headed north; upriver.

I-24 over Nickajack Lake - click for larger

I-24 over Nickajack Lake – click for larger

Although the weather was good, it was breezy and there was quite a bit of chop. No matter; just made for slow going. About 3 miles upstream, I hit my first goal – the remains of the dismantled Hales Bar Dam. Construction on the dam began in 1905, and when completed 8 years later, it was the first multi-purpose hydroelectric dam built on a navigable waterway in the world – a useless fact I was unaware of. However, because of the threat of an imminent failure, it was dismantled in 1968, once the Nickajack Dam was completed a few miles downstream. Now, the old powerhouse and the lock channel are all that remain – and the powerhouse is allegedly haunted. Um, OK.


You can see in the above video how choppy the water was, especially north of the powerhouse. Because of the chop, I stayed “behind” the powerhouse coming upriver, which somewhat blocked the winds and currents; back out in the open, 2 – 3 foot waves, which are fun to paddle through, but in my gimpy condition, was a chore.

Front row seats at Coca-Cola Stage from Riverbend - click for larger

Front row seats at Coca-Cola Stage from Riverbend – click for larger

After the powerhouse, north up the river. Still plenty choppy and breezy, but not a cloud in the sky (as my sunburn would later confirm). A couple miles upriver to Oates Island, which was my turn-around point (because I had paddled here a while back, so I already had travelled north past this point). I was excited for the return trip, because I was going to explore the opposite shore of the river, where the old dam lock is now used for storage for the floating main stage used at the annual Riverbend Festival. Lots of history on this stage – Boston, Joan Jett, Cheap Trick, Jethro Tull, Heart, REO Speedwagon, Huey Lewis, ZZ Top, Styx, Pat Benatar and many, many others. Because of my work/life being completely immersed on the music world, it was something I was looking forward to, and as it turned out, I was able to actually go through the lock itself, right next to the stage. It was tight – there was only about 4 feet between the front of the barge that the stage is on and the lock wall, but it was quite compelling, and technically, the second lock I’ve gone through in a week.


In the below satellite image, you can see the old powerhouse jutting out into the river on the right, and the old lock with the Riverbend stage moored inside on the left (the yellow line is my track; upstream on the right, downstream on the left). The dam spanned straight across the river between these points. The construction must have been a sight to see, 100+ years ago when it was built.

click for larger

click for larger

Following the lock, back to Marion County Park, and paddling around the various parts of the lake in that area, just because. By now, the winds and chop had subsided, so I was just trying to add some miles to the trip (despite hurting pretty badly by this point). All together, 12.5 miles in a little over 5 hours – by far, not my best pace between the wind, the chop and my injury (not to mention the late start), but a good paddle, all the same. All that remains on the river are two sections for me to complete: Sullivans and Suck Creek. Weather and body permitting, I’ll knock out at least one of them next weekend.

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

I also discovered there’s a put-in just below Nickajack Dam, so that’s on the list. The river there leads into Alabama, so I’ll be doing that one soon, as well. And I fully intend to return to West Chick, although I may put in at Camp Jordan and head south, so that I’m paddling against the current on the first leg, and with the current – which is easier – on the return leg. Hopefully, I can pick a weekend where the waterfalls and rapids are at a minimum.

Link:
Hales Bar Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

Lock, Stock, Barrel.

launch-smallSaturday, I went on one of the most compelling adventures I’ve been on (well, on the water, anyway – the 26-mile Soddy Gorge North hike will be hard to beat, the bear notwithstanding). I mentioned a little while ago I was planning a somewhat dangerous paddle, and this was it – luckily, I didn’t jinx myself by talking about it (only one person knew where I was going, and I guess that was so rescuers would know where to look for the body if things went south), and it ended up being mostly uneventful.

I put in early – after the gym, of course – right before sunup at Rivermont Park, also known as Lupton City Park. Because it was still mostly dark, I got to use the new flag/light combo for the first time, and it worked perfectly. Being visible on the water is going to be a big plus – this time of year, when it gets so hot by midday, starting before sunrise is the way to go. Obviously from the artsy photo, I also strapped on my wheels – I would need these later in the trip. Carrying the wheels worked better than I expected; the only downside is that I couldn’t open the rear hatch while underway, so I had to plan ahead and store everything I might need (GoPro batteries, protein bars, etc) in a dry box that I picked up on the way to the gym, and stowed behind the seat.


Anyway, after putting in, I chased the sunrise north up the river, with the intention of passing right by the base of Chickamauga dam, before veering off into North Chickamauga Creek.

Chickamauga Dam - click for larger

Chickamauga Dam – click for larger

The upriver paddle was peaceful and uneventful, and getting into N. Chick wasn’t too bad – there were some unpredictable currents at the base of the dam and coming from the locks (which I would experience first-hand later), but really, it was quite enjoyable. I paddled about a mile up North Chick, then the first challenge – getting out at the old dock at the south end of Greenway Farms, strapping on the wheels, and portaging the boat about a mile to a place I thought I could put in at the lake. I debated just carrying the boat, but fully loaded, it weighs upwards of 70 pounds, and despite being Mr. Gym Rat, I just wasn’t sure I could carry it that far. The wheels worked great, even down the narrow, steep and rocky trail through the woods to the lake. It was slow going down the trail, to be sure, but I made it into the lake with no major problems.

in the lock - click for larger

in the lock – click for larger

Once in the lake, an uneventful paddle about 5 miles north to Big Ridge, then back downstream to the top of the dam, where the real danger-slash-excitement began. Yeah, the plan all along was to go through the massive lock from the lake down to the river. Through the lock. In a kayak. Luckily, TVA has an iPhone app to check when the spillways are going to be open, so I planned locking though when there was the least chance of serious turbulent waters; nonetheless, the big “DANGER” sign posted just above the lock was a little unnerving. Regardless, the waters stayed relatively calm, and I was able to enter the lock without incident.

Once in the lock, a lot of waiting. The lockmaster checked to make sure I was secured properly, and finally began pumping out the 11 million gallons of water from the 60′ X 360′ structure. This was a unique sensation, slowly dropping 50 or 60 feet, watching the surrounding walls get higher and higher. It was definitely surreal, but one of the cooler things I’ve experienced in all my activities.

Once the lock emptied, the massive doors opened to the river, and I was heading back downstream to the park – turns out, not a minute too soon; clouds and thunder and lightning rolled in quickly, so I paddled very fast the last couple of miles. I have no desire to get struck by lightning, and being out in the open water is kinda asking for it. But I made it back before the storms hit, and logged a just-shy-of-a-personal-best 16 miles on the water (and a little bit of that on land).

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

The below map shows a satellite closeup of the area around the locks, and where I had to portage the boat through Greenway Farms. You can see right at the top of the map where I docked, then followed the abandoned gravel road up to Lake Resort Drive, and down through the woods. You can also see on the return leg where I waited outside the lock as traffic came upriver, then sat inside the lock during the process.

click for larger

click for larger

In the course of processing and uploading my own videos – including one in the lock as the water emptied – I found the below video (not mine) that really shows the dam, the locks and North Chick. Whoever made this – with a drone, obviously – did an amazing job, and it’s worth adding here, since it really ties everything together.

Yeah, so I guess I need to buy a drone now.

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

Despite being completely shredded – 95 degree temperatures for 7 hours will do that – I still got on the bike Sunday morning (yes, after the gym). Nothing major; just a 15 mile “fun ride” through downtown, the Riverwalk to Lookout Mountain, and through Alton Park (because, y’know, I like to live dangerously). Interestingly, I stopped to help a road biker who was training for the Ironman and needed a tool to make a repair, and had a nice conversation – he was stunned that I did a Century Ride on a mountain bike, saying there was no way he could do that. That was gratifying, and makes me want a road bike all the more – I’d be unstoppable. And it’s got me thinking about entering the Ironman again – we’ll see; biking and swimming, no problem – I just don’t know if my knees can handle the running. Guess I better start training, just in case. Anyway, this was only the 3rd or 4th time I’ve been on the bike this year – I’ve been enjoying kayaking too much. I probably won’t ride a whole lot during the summer months, but once fall gets here, there are quite a few trips I intend to take. Until then, it’ll be mostly paddling – there are still several long trips I’m planning, although nothing that will compare to this paddle – well, unless I decide to go through the lock at Nickajack down by the Batcave.

Sure, why not?

Link:
The Locks Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

Go Pro Paddling.

mac-smallLast night, I took the boat out for a good paddle on the North Shore. It’s so flippin’ hot out, this was the perfect thing to do to cool off, as well as burn a bunch of calories. Plus, I wanted to test my new gear – the YakAttack flag/light, and significantly for this post, the new GoPro kayak mount. Everything worked perfectly, so I should be all set for the paddle I’m planning for the weekend – now, just to see if Mother Nature will cooperate. I also think I’ve found the sail I want to add, and with the breeze on the river today, it would have been ideal. There was a lot of chop, and the water was running pretty fast, so my speed was somewhat slow heading upriver around Maclellan Island. And speaking of that, the trails on the island have been cleared, and it looks amazing. Well done, whoever did it.

Sadly, I forgot to bring a bag to put over my head, but I’ll post this, nonetheless. Just treat me like a Weeping Angel, and you can be Sally Sparrow; so don’t blink.

If you care – and you probably shouldn’t – there are several other videos from the paddle on my YouTube channel. Or you can watch me push 330 pounds on the butterfly machine at the gym. Whatever.

Of course, there’s a map, although I only ran Movescount; not Endomondo. I was using my phone and my portable Bluetooth speaker for music, so I didn’t want to drain the phone unnecessarily. It’s not like I haven’t paddled here a bunch of times before. As you can see, I did two laps around Maclellan Island – a first for me.

click for larger, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Movescount data

600In other news, this morning I hit 600 consecutive days hitting all my numbers on the Apple Watch. I have to say, I’m just crushing it this week. Diet is on track, and I’m pushing myself really hard at the gym, plus doing the Bowflex, and my new medicine ball workouts (I knew that drum throne I had would come in handy for something; it’s the perfect bench for doing these workouts). I just have to keep my eye on the prize, and keep digging deeper. I may suck at most things, but I seem to have this whole fitness thing under control. Now, I just have to keep at it…forever. Like the sign says, no need to be fat and ugly; I can just be ugly.

Hindsight.

Y’know, lately, I’ve been feeling a little guilty about something. Years ago – many years ago – I knew someone who was attempting to get healthy. Not even close to the extent that I’ve been for the past couple of years, but moving in the right direction, all the same. Walking, eliminating sugar, minding calories – baby steps, but steps in the right direction, to be sure. And I was…less than supportive.

caloriecounterI could have gotten up and walked, but I didn’t. I could have layed off the junk food and the all-inclusive Taco Bell and Wendy’s and Golden Corral and Chinese buffet diet, but I didn’t. I kinda poked fun about “rabbit food” and the little calorie book (although, in my defense, I recall gifting an updated version of the book, so I guess that’s something). Even if the poking fun was intended to be good-natured, it was mean, and I regret being “that person”. I suppose a lot of it was simply because I felt bad about the direction I was heading, but I wasn’t psychologically prepared to make my own changes. Lesson learned. And now, as far as this is concerned, karma is kinda sticking it to me for the attitude I had all those years ago.

gotothegymSince I started doing my own thing, I know now what it’s like to have people make fun of, or even outright ridicule lifestyle or diet or fitness choices. I always carry carb-blockers and stevia with me, and not one person – ever – has said, “Well done”. Among my (few) friends, it’s a running gag; among others, it’s always met with derision. My hours-long early morning gym sessions, my athletic apparel choices, my constant adventure-seeking – always sources of criticism. My point is this; if your spouse, significant other, best friend, acquaintance, co-worker or family member is trying to get healthy, show a little support. It doesn’t cost you anything. Being on the other side of the equation now, I know how hard it is to eliminate sugar, avoid tasty tacos, skip dessert when everyone else is indulging, and all it takes is a tiny bit of support – or lack of – to affect the choices that are made. And if you’re like me, and you’re really trying to make significant, measureable, positive changes, ultimately, only you are responsible for the outcome. Yes, in a perfect world, we’d all have our fans and cheerleaders, but this isn’t a perfect world, and that’s why I try to cheer anyone I come into contact with, no matter how little or how much effort they’re putting forth. That said, if the people in your orbit are not being supportive, you might have to make some tough choices.

End of speech.

As for me, I’m going to work harder. Work harder at the gym, work harder on not worrying about what other people say/think about me, and most importantly, work harder at proper diet; specifically, eliminating the sugar. Added sugar, that is. Naturally occurring sugar, like what’s found in fruit, isn’t the enemy. It’s added sugar, which is flippin’ everywhere. Everywhere. In things you wouldn’t expect. Go ahead, read a label – I dare you. Or watch this:

That’s a documentary called Hungry for Change, which is available on Netflix and other outlets. Watch it. It’ll make you rethink everything – hopefully.

movescount-totals

Because I just rolled over 39 million steps on my Fitbit, and I’m just a couple of days away from 600 straight days hitting my numbers on my Apple Watch, I pulled my totals from Movescount, to see where I’m at there. Clearly, some impressive numbers, especially the 1358 miles on the bike. So, I could have ridden more than halfway to southern California, and if I roll in the hiking and kayaking, I could have made it all the way. And this doesn’t take into account the 26000 miles I’ve accumulated on my Fitbit; this is just what I’ve tracked using my Suunto watch. I guess I can be pleased with these numbers – no one else is going to be.

yakattack-hobie-visicarbon-proSpeaking of kayaking, I’m expecting the YakAttack VISI Carbon Pro light I ordered today or tomorrow, and not a minute too soon. I’ve been studying my maps, and I’m planning what may be the most dangerous paddle I’ve ever attempted. So dangerous, in fact, I don’t even want to get into it beforehand; I don’t want to jinx myself. So, having a light/pennant combo could come in handy, especially if I get in trouble. We’ll see – I don’t know for sure that I’ll attempt it this weekend; I have to do some hydrodynamic research first, and, as always, it depends on what Mother Nature has to say about it. I’ve been getting more aggressive in my trekking – life without risk is Disneyland. I think my skills have gotten to a point where if I find trouble, I can get myself out of it. I think. Nonetheless, it certainly should be an adventure – watch this space. I did get my GoPro mount installed on my boat, so there should at least be some interesting and/or exciting video. Oh, and I think I want to give the boat a name, for luck. Any suggestions?

Oh, and I think I’m going to take up caving. Or rock climbing. Or both. Because why not?

A Sound of Thunder.

No, not the classic 1952 Ray Bradbury short story, or the less-than-classic film adaptation of the story (really, Hollywood, how do you fuck up dinosaurs, time travel and Gandhi?); no, I’m talking about actual weather, and Mother Nature’s ongoing quest to feature me in her own personal snuff film (which would still be more entertaining than A Sound of Thunder, no doubt – more critical acclaim, anyway, and better on the Tomatometer; even I can beat 6%, I’m pretty sure).

A medicine ball wearing a hat? What madness is this?

A medicine ball wearing a hat? What madness is this?

I’ll get back to that. But first, our newest national holiday. Prime Day. Although, as a traditionalist, I prefer to refer it to ChristPrime Day; we’ve already established that I’m not PC. Last year, I went a little nuts on ChristPrime Day; this year – well, it’s been a steady stream of UPS, FedEx and Postal Service (whose logo shouldn’t be an eagle; it should be a turtle) deliveries. Obviously, the usual health food/LCHF stuff; BarnDad Fiber DX, Dymatize ISO-100, Miracle Noodles shirataki and so on (go ahead and make fun – I’m over being judged and/or ridiculed), but a lot of other stuff I’ve been looking for, as well. I finally found a GoPro mount for my kayak (which is just awesome; I’m going to mount it today, and maybe even take the boat out this evening); I finally broke down and picked up the Titan Medicine Ball I’ve had my eye on for months (and really, I never thought too much about a medicine ball workout, but I’ve been doing this at the gym lately, and it’s awesome); a Tilley AirFlo hat to wear in the kayak (I have a pretty good hat I wear now, but it’s beige; I’ve been looking for a black hat forever – $90 is a little pricey for a friggin’ hat, but hey, fashion); and the exciting stuff, TP-Link smart light bulbs. These are just the coolest things – I ordered a white one and a multicolored one, and they work with my Echo, so basically, I can just speak, and the lights come on or off or dim or whatever (and the colored one, I can change colors on via voice). I also have them programmed to come on in the morning when it’s time to get up, and I’m working on some other cool stuff with them. I’m digging this home automation stuff – I used to tinker around with X-10 Home Automation gear, when they were the only game in town, but this Echo stuff is amazing by comparison (and I have a whole box of the X-10 stuff I really need to get rid of). The bulbs have Wi-Fi built right in, and that’s how they talk to the Echo, as well as the Logitech Harmony hub that I have. I’m just scratching the surface of what’s possible, especially with IFTTT now becoming more mainstream, so I see some cool stuff on the horizon. Next addition: cameras.

And speaking of cool stuff for the kayak, I’m researching add-on sails for my boat. As implied, I want to add a sail to the kayak to make it more of a hybrid kayak/sailboat. I’ve sailed a lot on the past, mostly in Hawaii, and I’m pretty good at it, and adding a sail would significantly add to my distances, plus it just looks like it would be fun. An add-on sail isn’t as capable as a full-blown sailboat, of course, but on a windy day, it could add a whole new dimension to my paddling. Hobie makes a pretty cool design; I just need to take some measurements and see if it’ll work on my boat. It’s basically just a mainsheet design, no spinnaker or anything fancy like that, and I may have to add an outrigger, but still, it opens up some new possibilities. Or, you know, I could just buy a sailboat, I guess.

night-paddle-622

Which brings me to the thunder, and Mother Nature’s ongoing desire to take me out – and not in the good way. I decided to go ahead and try to expected-to-be-dangerous Lookout Creek paddle, and it didn’t disappoint. For the first time ever, I put in when it was still dark out, just after 5 AM. Paddling in the dark was amazing, and there was a pretty bright moon to help out. When paddling in the dark, you’re required to be illuminated, so I bought some little LED lights that clipped onto my hat; they provided plenty of light to see by (Addendum: YakAttack VISI Carbon Pro lights ordered). Anyway, I put in at my usual Coolidge Park location, and headed downriver, with Lookout Creek expected to be about 5 miles away. By the time I left the glow of downtown, the sun was starting to come up, and I made it through the dark unscathed. As expected, the currents around Moccasin Bend were wild and unpredictable, despite the river generally being Class I all the way. Nothing too major, though.

Paddling up Lookout Creek was also uneventful, although the water levels were (surprisingly) so low, I only made it a little more than a mile and a half up the creek before it shallowed too much to proceed. I probably could have gone on, in a combination of paddling and portaging, but by this time, the weather started to turn, as prognosticated. So, I paddled back out, and headed for Chattanooga Creek. This was interesting, to say the least – I really was completely unaware of what to expect; it was a little creepy, and just littered with debris. About a mile in, I came to a railroad trestle that has debris piled up against it, blocking any attempt to explore the creek further, so I had to turn back and head for the open water of the river.

Lookout Mountain - click for larger

Lookout Mountain – click for larger

The paddle back upriver was uneventful, except by now, there was thunder rapidly and loudly approaching. My intent was to shoot for a new personal-best by bypassing the put-in spot and heading for the cave below the Hunter Art Museum, then rounding Maclellan Island. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. I did at least press on to the cave; I wanted to see it with the low water, because the last time I was here, it was completely inundated.

Maclellan Island - click for larger

Maclellan Island – click for larger

I did make a very quick stop on the western tip of Maclellan Island, since I had to pass right by it. The thunder was really coming now, though, so just a few minutes to snap some photos, and a fast downstream paddle back to the put-in. Just in time – by the time I got loaded up, the rains were on top of me. Not that I mind the rain, but getting struck by lightning would have kinda ruined my day. Anyway, still a good 13.5 miles, but I think I could have broken 20 – I felt that good. I think next weekend, I’m going to do another night-time paddle, just to see if it was a fluke that I had so much energy, or if there were other factors at play. And the good news, another section filled in on the Master Adventure Map. Still lots left to see, though, and still some summer left to see it. We’ll see what happens next weekend, but I’m sure it’ll be something awesome – and with the new GoPro mount, there might even be some video. Not of me, mind you – it’s been established that no one wants to see that, although I suppose I could put a bag over my head.

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

Link:
Lookout Creek Paddle Photo Album on Facebook

A Million Ways to Die (in My Yard).

When I haven’t written in a bit, it can mean a couple of things: I fell face-first into a pile of Krispy Kremes or mainlained cereals with monster mascots, Flinstones, sea Cap’ns, and/or leprechauns until I was in a sugar coma; or I just haven’t been up to much; or Mother Nature has tried to murder me to death again.

Well, it wasn’t the first one. Or the second one.

fireI haven’t had any new adventures until today, and I’ll get to that in a sec. But, yeah, Mother Nature friggin’ hates me. She gave me a pass while I was burning brush – stunningly, I didn’t set myself on fire like last summer – but after that, playtime was over. You’ll recall about 2 weeks ago, I had a scary incident following a scorpion sting and a very frightening allergic reaction to the treatment; well, when I was mowing the grass last week – you guessed it – bee sting. Because of the aforementioned allergic reaction, I didn’t treat the sting (because I didn’t feel like going to the ER), so I suffered through it, and my calf got all nice and swollen. I guess it’s lucky he hit me in the calf – the stinger didn’t go deep because of the muscle.

Then, on Saturday, I was laying some landscaping blocks (how awesome are landscaping blocks? They’re like Legos for adults), and as I was clearing the area I was going to put the blocks, I dug up a…copperhead. As in, a snake. I’m not afraid of snakes, not even a little bit; back in DC, my reticulated python, Morticia, got to about 12 feet long before I finally had to find a new home for her. Well, she did kinda try to rip my arm off, but that was my own carelessness (and sorry, no photos; the only ones I have of her have me in them as well, and no one wants to see that). Anyway, yeah, noodling around in the yard with no gloves on, and digging up a venomous snake will certainly wake you up, and quick.

So, let’s recap: so far in the course of my adventures and/or projects, there has been a mountain lion, a bear, a pack of wild dogs, a timber rattlesnake, the copperhead, scorpions and bees. Am I missing anything? A Loch Ness squid or something, maybe? And let’s not forget hanging off the side of a waterfall, setting myself on fire, dropping a heavy concrete bird bath on my ankle (I’m still amazed it didn’t completely shatter), my chainsaw blade flying off while I was cutting, dropping numerous huge trees, and probably other stuff I’m forgetting. I promise, I’m not accident-prone. I just believe, as Emiliano Zapata said, “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” Or in my case, live on the sofa. Whatever.

Pot Point - click for larger

Pot Point and the T-Wall – click for larger

OK, on to the adventure. You’ll recall I like to tie my adventures together. For example, on the Three Gorges, I hiked Soddy Creek Gorge South, Imodium Falls/Possum Creek Gorge and Soddy Creek Gorge North, then paddled Soddy Creek, where the creek from the gorges passes into the lake. This adventure was similar; I decided to put in at the Raccoon Mountain boat launch in the Kelly’s Ferry area, which is right below where I went biking a few weeks ago. The plan was to paddle south a few miles to Cummings Lake and the Tennessee River Gardens (no reason; because it’s there), then turn north, past the T-Wall that I’ve hiked a few times, and onward to the Pot Point campsite, where I’ve also hiked. Additionally, the river follows the southeastern slopes of the PCSF, where I spent most of the winter months hiking. So, a familiar – but untraveled – area for me, which would also make a great addition to the Master Adventure Map (have you checked it out? You should – it’s pretty awesome, and shows dozens of paddles/pedals/hikes covering hundreds of miles).

one of the many woodland creatures I saw - click for larger

one of the many woodland creatures I saw – click for larger

Surprisingly, the entire paddle went exactly as planned/hoped, and was completely without incident. No huge carnivores, but plenty of wildlife; deer, turtles, herons, osprey and a cute little otter that tagged along with me for a bit. I did have to portage the boat to get into Cummings Lake, which was a first, but the weather was perfect, the views were awesome, and I was able to log a good 15.5 miles in about six and a half hours. I really can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday, especially since Mother Nature decided to not to try to murderdeathkill me again. I know she’s got her eye on me, though – all I ask is, lay off the snakes.

The only regret I have is that I didn’t bring my hammock. There were a couple of awesome little spots on the shores and on the islands it would have been nice to string it up to have a think. Next time.

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data, or Movescount data

bluewayFollowing the paddle, I did a little exploring in the car to find my next spot. Winding around the mountain, I came to Hale’s Bar Marina, site of the old Hale’s Bar Dam, which was replaced by Nickajack in the late 60s because of the threat of an imminent failure. While the dam itself has been dismantled, the old power building is still there, and looks to be an interesting artifact to explore. Unfortunately, you can’t put in here; but you can put in a few miles upriver, at the Sullivans (where I also stopped, and had a great conversation with the “old timer” that runs the little store), so I guess that will be my next adventure. Although I didn’t realize it, I guess the goal here is to paddle the entire Tennessee River Blueway, which is about 50 miles in total. I’ve already travelled most of this, from Soddy to Nickajack, with just a few small sections of the river to complete (see the Master Adventure Map). Lately, I’m starting to feel like the only predator I need to worry about is time. It’s stalking me; therefore, I need to get cracking. To that end, next adventure, The Sullivans. Following that, the challenging Moccasin Bend/Lookout Creek area. Come at me, Mother Nature.

Link:
Kelly’s Ferry Paddle Photo Album on Facebook