April 2, 2017

North Fork Holston River

  • 9.68 miles
  • 4:15 duration
  • 2 caches found
  • 1 cache visited (previously found)
  • 5 caches hidden

On this beautiful spring day, Huck and I joined a group of friends to paddle the North Fork of the Holston River. Our able river guide was LakeBum (Rob) in his yellow canoe. Karaboo (Kara) paddled her purple canoe. Her muggle dad and his wife (Bob and Elaine) paddled Rob’s green tandem canoe. Pork n Beans (Jane) piloted her red and orange yak, while tncorgi (Mary) used my green kayak, Signal. Our rainbow fleet hit the water at 11:00 am at the Weber City bridge.

I was eager to try out my newly purchased spray skirt on this trip. On our maiden voyage, both Huck and I took on a great deal of water whenever we went through waves. A spray skirt is designed to keep that water out of the cockpit and keep the paddler dry from the waist down. To use a spray skirt such as the one I purchased, you must put it on around your waist before getting in the boat. Once in the boat, you reach behind you to position it on the rear raised lip of the cockpit, and then stretch it out, working your way around the perimeter of the cockpit until it is firmly attached all the way around.

In preparation for our trip, I donned my skirt on the boat ramp. When others in the group complimented me on my new skirt, I laughingly told them I had decided it was appropriate to wear a skirt to paddle today since it was Sunday.

The water was flowing high and fast, which made our launch slightly intimidating. As we stood on the ramp, we could see it rushing under the bridge and knew that we would have to jump in and start paddling immediately to avoid the pylons.

I saw everyone else off, and then positioned Huck in the calmest spot I could find around the ramp, climbed aboard and immediately started paddling. Knowing from my practice runs in the garage that it was tough to stretch the skirt into position around the rim of the cockpit, I didn’t bother with it until I had gotten past the bridge and into calmer water. Fortunately, I did not encounter any waves before I was able to get it on.

When I have paddled this route before, there have often been rocky areas that mean steering carefully through rapids, but with the high water most of those were covered. The fast current meant we didn’t have to paddle as hard to make our way down stream, but it also made stopping off for caches more challenging.

Our first stop of the day was to find a cache that LakeBum had hidden the week before. It is a challenge cache and part of his series called, “Whatever floats your boat.” To qualify for this cache, you must have found at least 50 geocaches that have the “boat required” attribute. Thanks to the many caches he and other cachers in our area have hidden along our rivers and lakes, I easily qualified for this cache with 82 “boat required” finds.

Having just gotten situated in the cockpit with my skirt in place, I opted to stay in the boat and let Jane and Kara do the hard work searching for this cache. Of course, it was hanging in a tree on a very small island, so there was not a lot of searching involved. I did feel I was part of the team effort though, since neither of them had a pen and I was able to provide one with which to sign the log.

We then moved on down the river to a cache hidden by Backwoods Ang that had just published earlier in the morning. Jane and I had a friendly scuffle over the first to find prize. I won, and I think she will soon be released from the hospital and move to rehab. (just kidding of course)

We made many other steps along the way so that Kara, Rob and I could hide more geocaches. Spoiler alert: there may be some tree climbing involved while hunting a couple of my hides. Hopefully, these will publish soon to give more geocachers the opportunity to hunt for them. We also stopped off so that Jane could find a cache she had missed on previous trips. Along the way we saw some beautiful spring flowers along with the usual river wildlife.

I went ahead of the group through the last set of rapids so that I could take photos and shoot video of everyone else as they come through. This section of the North Fork is very gentle, so those are not very challenging rapids. This is a great warm up run for the beginning of the paddling season to polish your paddling skills, or for new paddlers who need to get accustomed to their boats before tackling a more aggressive river.

We finished up the run at the take out on Big Elm Road, just under the 11W bridge. It was a great day to be on the river.

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