July 27, 2019

Watauga River

  • 6.12 miles
  • 2:39 duration

On this beautiful Saturday morning, 10 paddlers joined up for a trip on our go-to river for the warmer months, the Watauga. At this time of the year, the Watauga is one of the few rivers we can paddle. Most of the rivers are too low, meaning it would be a wade and drag rather than a paddle in places. Since the Watauga is dam controlled, we can typically count on it to have enough water for a good trip.

Today’s group was a good mixture with four canoes and six kayaks – one of which is a C1. A C1 kayak has been converted so that the paddler is kneeling as they would in a canoe rather than sitting.

We also had a couple of newbies on this trip. Rhonda and Gail are sisters who have done a lot of lake paddling and some river paddling, but had never been on the Watauga. It is always fun to have new people along so that we can point out all of the interesting sights along the river.

This was my first time on the river since I had capsized on July 5. I was surprised to feel a few butterflies in my stomach as we started. I have spent many hours in Huck and other kayaks over the past few years, but that one incident gave me pause – especially the first time water splashed my face going through a rapid. My pulse quickened and I gasped for breath. I guess it was body’s natural response as it remembered my time under water on the last trip.

Soon after our trip began, we approached the rapid where I had capsized. I paid special attention to the route today, and made it through easily as I had on countless trips before. It was so easy that I wondered how in the world I messed up on that previous trip badly enough to flip.

Today’s trip was mostly unremarkable. Just a beautiful summer day on the river. I took very few photos along the way. One incident that I clearly remember was two of our companions, Steve and Aaron, trading boats. I was very impressed that they were able to do this in the middle of the river without capsizing. Both were in kayaks. I have trouble getting into my kayak when it is next to the shore!

The main highlight was our visit near the end of the trip to Quarry Falls. Since it was such a warm day, many of us took the opportunity to paddle under the falls. The water pounds down on you giving an instant massage.

We completed the trip without any problems, and I was glad to get an uneventful paddle under my belt. It may take me a bit to regain my mojo after my July 5 excitement, but it will come!

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