Wednesday, June 10, 2009

paddling to work

Last Monday evening I finally made the trek to work via the Holston River in my kayak. I've put it off for many different reasons such as really cold dark morning and most recently the amount of water the dam just a few hundred yards up from our house has been releasing. Most of the entrance and exit points have been under water for a couple of weeks and the current has been so swift that the paddle home would have been impossible. After all our traveling was out of the way and the water level finally receded I decided to make my first attempt Monday afternoon. I left the house around 4:15, I normally leave @ 5:15 by car but I would rather have extra time left over just in case. From the time I walked out of the driveway until I locked up my boat and took a quick shower it was just about an hour so I was quite a bit early to work. I don't think most of the people I worked with actually thought I would go through with it because I got a few that didn't believe me even though they saw my boat sitting just outside the gate.
As the night wore on and I started getting tired I started having second thoughts about paddling back home but I knew if I called in Melinda to come get me I would never hear the end of it from my co-workers so I decided to stay the course. I knew once I got going I would be wide awake and probably end up having trouble falling asleep once I made it home.
As I gathered my things for my trip home I noticed all my co-workers still hanging around waiting to see me off and if I really was going to do this. I even got two offers for a ride home but I politely declined. Some admitted they were only waiting to see if I would fall in the water. One guy even asked how it was possible to make it back up stream with all the rough water. I said "what?" he then started to describe the conditions of a class 5 river with giant boulders. It was kind of sad when I realized how naive some people are about things and that probably the most contact they have with nature is mowing their yard.
The paddle home was pretty foggy and based on the markings of the rocks I could tell the river was almost 2 feet lower than it had been the previous evening. I decided that with the lower water level, limited visibility and the abundance of rocks near my original entry point I got out a couple hundred yards downstream and walked the rest of the way in via the fisherman's trail that runs along the bank. I had a feeling I was going to bottom out if I tried to make it all the way up and would end up turning around anyway.
Now the question is will I do it again, probably, but not on a regular basis. A 2 hour round trip on the river vs. a 6 min round trip in the car eats up a good portion of what's left of my day after working a 12 hr. shift. I did enjoy the time on the river, at 6am there is alot more wildlife to be seen as opposed to the rest of the day.