All boats are dry and sun burns are healing after a relaxing weekend paddling on Dale Hallow Lake near the Kentucky border. The weekend of August 28- 29 was the first of what we hope to be several more Outdoor Chattanooga and Rock/Creek sponsored Overnight Kayaking Adventures.
Outdoor Chattanooga Guides Philip Grymes (with his wife Jenn), Minya James, Guide Andrew Akridge and Photographer Rachel Tucker from Rock/Creek and support staff Dave Petty, took 7 adventure seekers from the Chattanooga area on a weekend camping/paddling trip. Over the course of the two day respite, the group would learn proper paddling techniques, understand “leave no trace” concepts, and eat lots of good food while relaxing on a lake-front campsite.
Participants arrived at Outdoor Chattanooga on Saturday morning to make the 2.5 hour drive North-West to Dale Hallow Lake. We started the day off by unloading the boats, organizing the camp site and setting up the MSR Mutha Hubba Tents, and MSR Hubba Hubba Tents.
Once changed and ready for the water, instruction was given by Andrew on boating safety, Personal Flotation Device (PFD) fitting and water protocol. Minya James from Outdoor Chattanooga shared the importance of “leave no trace” practices with food, packing gear, and the necessary actions for human waste disposal while away from accommodations. On a serious note, Minya emphasized the importance of “leaving a small footprint when adventure going; to maintain the original state of a location for someone else to enjoy.”
The next step was to “fit” boats to our participant’s height. Our group consisted of petite sized women, medium sized young men, and very tall grown men with long legs, therefore, each participant needed the best length and width of kayak for their needs. (My take away note: If a person is taller, they may want to consider a longer boat with a wider cockpit to make entering and exiting easier.) The kayaks used were Wilderness Systems Tsunami series ranging from the Tsunami 140 to Tsunami 165 which are ideal for laid back recreation paddling.
While everyone familiarized themselves with paddle strokes, the waves from the fast speed boats added a certain theme park wave- pool experience. Once across the lake safely, we settled into the cove where Philip Grymes gave instruction on how to tactfully exit and re-enter a kayak while floating in deep water. (Lets just say the technique for getting back into the boat, does not require finesse or grace) After kicking, splashing and throwing a leg over the boat, a few people got the hang of it.
Saturday evening shifted into an orange glowing sky as we made a delightful paddle into another cove before heading across the choppy waves to camp. Dinner and relaxation were on the menu as the group feasted and re-hydrated before the night time paddle. John quickly discovered the lulling sway of the Eagle Nest Hammock while the youngest participant, Tim, tried his hand at fishing for the first time.
The group, in a well fed comatose, gathered for the night time paddle while the moon rose above the treeline, illuminating the waterway. Day drifter into night as the clamor of bird calls shifted to a sleepy night time melody of chirps from crickets. Our Saturday night concluded with an about-turn to shore, and s’mores at the campfire.
The warm breezy Sunday morning welcomed participants to a relaxing wake up, accompanied by coffee and a filling breakfast prepared by Minya, Philip and Dave. (I am pretty sure Philip’s invention of the brownie pancake is a first experience for all.) We packed most of the tents and camping gear up and prepared for the afternoon’s paddle before leaving.
With hugs, goodbyes and thanks passed to Dave, the group ventured into the same cove as the night paddle to see what was not seen, and swim in a small inlet. The water was so calm and clear, it appeared as if another forest was below our boats, living untouched by the elements above water.
A good time was had by all, and the experience was one to remember. Thank you to Outdoor Chattanooga and Rock/Creek for conducting the Kayaking Adventure Series. View all the photos from the weekend trip on Rock/Creek’s Flickr account HERE >
The final trip of the series will be the Williams Island Tour on Sunday, September 19th from 1:00pm- 5:00pm. Williams Island holds a TN River Blueway Campsite, prehistoric archaeological features, and a 20-acre organic farm. We’ll paddle around the island and do a little exploring on foot. Cost is $35 and includes gear, guides, snacks, water, and transportation. If you are interested in participating you need to register by contacting Ruth at Outdoor Chattanooga via email ([email protected]) or call at 423. 643.6888
If you are hooked into paddling, kayaking, canoeing or the like, be sure to stop in at the Rock/Creek Ocoee store this Labor Day weekend for a huge closeout sale on boats, helmets, paddles, gear and more. Some discounts are up to 60% off.
Visit the store at 1680 Hwy 64 (Old Cooper Rd.) Benton, TN 37307 or call for directions 423.338.1075