I
started calling the Tellico river gauge on Monday, April 21. The
Tellico was running 194 cfs that night. The weather channel said
rain was on the way, but I don’t put much faith in weather reports
until two days before the trip, and even then they have to be taken
with a grain of salt. The next few days were up and down, 450 cfs at
lunch, 350 cfs that night, etc. On Thursday I called the gauge at
lunch and got a reading of 350 cfs, a little low for me, but I would
be willing to do it. That night it dropped to about 300 cfs with the
weather channel giving no chances of rain before Sunday. Decision
time and the Tellico river was not looking good.

I
had told some people earlier in the week that I would divert to the
Chattooga Section 3-1/2 if the Tellico didn’t have enough water.
This was met with pretty good enthusiasm. But, one of my wife’s
friends that doesn’t get to paddle as much as she used to called and
wanted to camp this weekend. Her choice of rivers was the Ocoee. I
wanted to paddle some whitewater with my wife on Sunday so I changed
the trip to the Nantahala. Sorry to all the people that were looking
forward to 3-1/2. When I first started paddling, I would drive all
weekend and paddle in different states over the weekend, but now I
prefer to paddle rivers that are somewhat close to each other on the
same weekend.

The
group had thinned out a bit after I had made my Nantahala decision,
but we had a trip going. While sitting in the parking lot waiting on
the trippers, a few of my friends pulled in and asked if they could
run the Natahala river with us. Sure! So we set off on our
adventure. Kayak paddlers were Jimmy Nipper,Bryan Rose, David Gay,
John Golson,and Tom and Jeannie McCormick in a tandem kayak. Canoe
paddlers were Billy McKinley and Yvonne ???? (Sorry),

People
were working the kinks out after winter and a few encounters of the
wet kind occurred, but were easily contained and handled with good
humor. One of my friends on the trip learned the rule “It
doesn’t matter how good the stern squirt was, if you swam immediately
afterwards you lose bragging rights around the campfire that night”.
We finally settled on a new rule: he could talk about it but we got
to throw rocks at him while he did it.

The
river was running a tad high and the Falls were fairly meaty. John
ran first and found that Micro was not an eddy today. Out the back
for a wild surf at the bottom. Tom and Jeannie were next in the
tandem kayak, found that Micro was not there, but kept paddling and
had a good run. They are fun to watch in that thing. Brian was next
and he also found that Micro was gone. Out the back for wrong side
up surf to the tongue and a great off side roll. Everyone else ran
it straight through, then we watched a group from Indiana tackle the
rapid.

Everyone
was a little chilled by now, so we cruised on down to the take-out
where a mountain bike competition was finishing up. I used to think
I was hot stuff if I jumped a cinder block on my bike! These kids
were impressive.

We
finished the trip with supper at the River’s End, everyone getting to
know each other a little better and enjoying dry clothes. I enjoyed
paddling with everyone and look forward to seeing ya’ll again.

by
Jimmy Nipper
April 26, 1997.