Monday, April 13, 2009

maiden voyage

FAIL!!!!!!!


Well it wasn't a total failure but I will have to re-think my entry point. I started out just a few hundred yards downstream from the Fort Patrick Henry Dam a spot I've been eyeing since I had the bright idea of commuting to work via the Holston River. I decided today was a good day to make my first test run to see if there was going to be any problems. My entry point is somewhat of a sketchy hike down to the river trying to carry my kayak while balancing along a very rocky and root infested path. I made it down to the waters edge with no problems and set my kayak down noticing the river still had a little flow which was okay since I was traveling down stream. I checked the dam release schedule before I left the house and it was scheduled to stop generating @ 3pm. At 3:04 I entered the water and started my journey. Earlier in the year I had noticed the water is pretty shallow where I put in which I figured was a good thing if I ever tipped over. I guesstimated it to be around 2 ft deep. Not long after I started I ran across a spot where a small stream entered the river, something I had never seen before but I didn't foresee it as being a problem since it wasn't creating much of a current.
My trip was pretty interesting, I took my time snapping pics of various interesting objects, houses, trees and bridges. My downstream trip in the 10 ft boat took me about 40 mins. a time I new I could easily beat if I just paddled not goofing off with the camera. An interesting feature I did see was a train bridge crossing the river which the train came straight out of the rock cliff from a tunnel which was pretty cool. I actually got to see a train come out of the tunnel on my trip back up stream. As I watched the train cross the river I could see the engineer, gave him a wave and got a wave back. I also saw alot of wildlife, muskrats, ducks geese and a few blue heron which are alot prettier up close.
As I cruised closer to Eastman I passed the burning ground which is located on the cliffs just above the river. As I passed by I could see I was getting quite a bit of attention from the operators who were perched on the catwalk above me. Alot of pointing and looking was going on, I guess they've never seen a kayak before or maybe there was something large and vicious lurking under me in the water that only they could see. That was something I thought about for a split second two separate times during my trip as I scrapped the bottom of my boat on a submerged tree I did not see until I hit it.
I pulled into Eastman just below my gate that I enter for work jumped out, stretched a little and shed a layer before heading back up stream. I decided to put the camera away to see if I could make better time because 40 minutes was just not acceptable when it's 4:15am. I just can't make myself get up much earlier especially when my drive only takes 3-5 minutes. In reality I won't be saving much on gas and I knew that before I made the purchase, I'm in it more for the adventure.
My trip back upstream didn't take as long as it did going down which I expected so my next run should be alot faster. Everything was going smoothly until I reached the point where the stream entered the river. I really didn't have a hard time fighting the current but that was also the point where it got really shallow. I started bottoming out on large rocks and hitting my paddle on the bottom trying to get a good deep stroke. Twice I had to turn around and try a different approach but finally I made it making a mental note of my route. Now here's where my problems began, the further I went upstream the more and more I had trouble running up on large rocks and not being able to get a good paddle stroke due to the shallowness of the water. I starting thinking it wasn't like this on the way down so what gives. Then it dawned on me, I left shortly after the dam stopped releasing which meant the water level was probably still up. Now it was lower and I was fighting a serious headwind. The combination of these factors made me decide to call it a day and head to shore. I really wasn't too far from where I started but trying to reach my original starting point was going to be more work than I wanted to deal with. Once I reached the shore I noticed blood streaks down the side of the kayak. Yesterday I had cut my knuckle and I guess while I was fighting the rocks and wind I nailed it a few times causing a big mess.
The place I decided to hike out really wasn't the best but I made due, finally after a bit of scouting I found an old trail that was used by fishermen and I was able to get back to my neighborhood. As I hiked back up to my house I realized that one of those little 2 wheeled trailers was going to be a must. After an hour and a half of paddling my arms and shoulders were toast and carrying that kayak uphill wasn't helping anything.
If I get a trailer I will be able to use my 12 ft. boat which will be faster and allow me to hike further down to a better put in point where the shallow water won't be a problem. I plan to give it another run later this week to get my route nailed down and hopefully make the first official trip this Friday to work.
I was unable to load any photos this afternoon our computer or internet was acting up but i did run across a few more from Warriors Creek curtosy of Andy Mullins.














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5 comments:

Brad said...

this will be the neatest commute of all. well....maybe next to hang gliding to work. let me know when you pull it off. I might still have some black face paint from my military days. you can have it if you want. How's security? Will they have a cow?

Joshua Stamper said...

That sounds like a spectacular way to get to work.

Riding with dogs said...

no need to be sneaky Eastman doesn't own the Holston River. I will be getting out just outside my gate

Alan said...

That has to be one of the sweetest ways to commute

Christopher said...

That is pretty darn cool!

I thought Eastman owned everything in the greater Kgpt area...