April 9, 2017

South Fork Holston River

  • 2.77 miles
  • 2:20 duration
  • 2 caches found (1 FTF)

LakeBum (Rob) and I decided to round out the weekend with a short paddle along the South Fork of the Holston River. We both had other obligations in the afternoon, so met early on Sunday morning at the take out spot, moved my boat into his truck, and then drove to the put in spot.

We began the trip at the boat ramp just below Fort Patrick Henry Dam. Although TVA had published on their website that they would be generating from 6:00 – 11:00 am, there was no water coming through the dam when we arrived at 8:30. We knew this would make for a slow trip with lots of paddling and some low water spots that might be hard to navigate, but there was a new cache placed by Cache Cracker Jacks (Tom and Dori) waiting for the first to find (FTF) honors.

We hit the water and paddled across the river and downstream just a little ways to find a place to disembark. Along the banks we saw lots of Virginia Bluebells in bloom, but I was busy paddling and didn’t get any photos of them. Once on land, we saw lots of Golden Ragwort and Sweet White Violets. We also spied a radio controlled car that Mrs. Jack (Dori) had found when hiding the cache, and had left on a stump for others to experience. We could hear running water and spotted a pretty creek nearby, but decided to find the cache before exploring further.

Rob spotted the cache location quickly and we were thrilled to see a blank log sheet. We signed the log, and headed off to explore the nearby creek. Checking the map later, I determined this to be Rock Springs Branch. It turned out to be as pretty as we thought it would be, with some small cascades coming down around an island. Unfortunately, right smack dab in the middle of that island was an old wrought iron chair covered with debris. Of course, I couldn’t let that spoil our photo ops, so I made my way across the creek to it, dislodged it, and dragged it close to the edge of the island. I then heaved it toward shore.

Rob was able to grab it, and he promptly found a spot along the shore to place it and have a seat. “Get me a cold drink,” he shouts. “Yeah, right.” I responded, and carried on with my picture taking.

When we had had our fill of this scenic spot, we headed back to the boats and started the slow paddle downstream. This is such a scenic stretch of river, unexpected so close to the city. As always, we were guided downstream by Great Blue Herons, and even saw one catch a fish and settle in for a mid-morning snack. There was one spot along the way where the water was low enough that I ran aground, and I had to climb out of the boat to get it floating again.

We eventually reached the location of the second cache on our agenda. This one is part of the CAYOR (Cache At Your Own Risk) series. These are some local geocaches that all have some increased element of fear or danger involved. This one certainly lives up to the CAYOR label.

Once we had exited our boats, we had a steep, rugged hillside to climb toward the entrance to a cave. The last 10 to 20 feet was extremely treacherous. There were two options here. Rob chose to continue up the muddy, leaf-covered, slippery route. I took an alternate route, climbing up the rocks to the side of the entrance where I felt I had more stable footing.

When were were finally in the cave, we could see that our challenges were not over. The cache was resting high up on a ledge. I was elected to employ my monkey skills, and with a boost from Rob managed to wiggle my way up the rock wall so that the cache was within reach. I handed it down to Rob, he signed the log, and I replaced it. After I had gotten both feet on the ground, we had to make our way back down the slippery slope toward our boats. I used the professional butt sliding technique, leaving behind a long trail of bare earth behind me.

We climbed back in our boats, and then only had a few hundred yards to paddle to reach our take out spot at the John B. Dennis bridge. We had decided the day before that rather than hauling Rob’s canoe in the back of my Range Rover as we had on a previous trip, we would put it on top. This worked much better and did not look half as ridiculous as the yellow canoe sticking out the back of the yellow Rangie method.

We finished up the morning with time to spare to meet our afternoon obligations. Until next time…

 

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