was almost time. Interstate 40 had been closed since early July, but
I was determined to run the Big Pigeon and anyone adventurous enough
to follow was gladly welcome. We had a very good group of boaters on
this one, although I hadn’t paddled with all of them. We had Tom
Ottinger as the lone open boater, Brady Sleeper in his C-l (only
because he wrecked his Mohawk Canoe!), Joe Medlin — kayak, Philip
Stars — kayak, Kit Blanchard — kayak, and myself, the fearless
leader, with my new Godzilla kayak.
I-40 was closed, I decided to run the troops through the forest,
coming in through Cataloochee. (It was the longest 16 miles of the
year!) We arrived at the put-in about 1 PM and ran a quick shuttle.
The Pigeon was not releasing its usual volume, which was kind of a
bummer. The water also looked very black (Scary stuff).
got in my kayak, and when I locked my left leg in, it hurt like
#%&@!! I hurt my back at work and so my leg is kinda screwed up.
I’m hoping it will go back to halfway normal, because Gauley season
is rapidly approaching! We proceeded to go down river and hit every
play spot in existence. It seemed like we were about the only group
on the river other than my buds from New Wave, getting roused in
their new Strobes.
stopped for lunch just past Lost Guide at a great play spot where
cartwheels come easy and enders are automatic. Due to the low
release, the hole wasn’t quite up to par, but it still beat working
for a living. We had a couple of small swims but nothing serious.
here’s the funny part…. As we got near the take-out, Tom and Brady
were up front. Since they had never been down the river before, they
were going down the left (wrong) side of the island. I yelled,
“Where are you guys going, Knoxville!?!” About the time I
opened my mouth, I drifted through some fast water to the same side!
Oh well, I always wanted to see what was on this side. I said to
myself, “I’ll just go around this island and paddle up-stream to
the take-out. “Ha! No way bud…”
worst part was when I turned around and everybody was following my
sorry butt. Oh, oh! Afterwards we paddled upstream for a while, but
it really became quite a hassle, so (almost) everyone pulled their
boats up a 75 foot embankment at a 75 degree angle (good workout,
huh!!). We finally got all the throw ropes put away and headed for
the vehicles…. Sorry about the take-out, guys!!
From The Eddy Line, October, 1997