TELLICARNAGE!!! Extreme Ultimate Awesome Fun Day on the Middle Tellico TRIP REPORT:

So we put together a group of 9 or 10 Folks. We had about half the group who had run the middle one or twice, and the other half who were first timers. (WARNING TO PROTECT THE GUILTY, ALL NAMES HAVE BEEN REDACTED AND STRICKEN FROM THE RECORD, except Mark Holmberg , because everybody knows how much he swims anyway!)

It had been over a year since I had run this section, and I had not ever ran the first couple of rapids (put in at Turkey Creek last time). But after spending the Summer on the Ocoee and having good success with my roll, I was feeling fairly confident. Our “guide” had not paddled the section in a good while, and had also not been in his boat in a couple of months. He gave strict instructions to the most inexperienced kayaker to follow him at all times. We prepared to run the first class III drop, “The Ledges” or whatever name you want to call it. The guide promptly decided to swim. The new guy, taking his instructions very seriously, promptly followed suite and swam as well. Mark Holmberg, never to be outdone, also chose to swam at this time out of solidarity for the other swimmers.

So right off the bat, we had 3 swims, still being in my boat, and nobody hurt, I found this a little amusing, as mild carnage can sometimes be… We got everybody back in their boats, and the didn’t make it far down stream before the guide swam a second time, this time pinning his boat nicely. I good pin requires that you artfully pin your boat well enough to need a rope to get it out. After gear recovery was complete, the guide decided it was just not his day on the river (haven’t we all!!!) and took off. The new guy was totally freaked out that the guide just took off the river. He figured if that guy couldn’t hack it, he was gonna die for sure. We shrugged our shoulders and said “hey, you oughta stay”. He looked at us like we were a bunch of Lemmings, laughing as we ran toward the cliff. And, honestly, in the back of my mind, I wondered if that might not be the case!

So we get down to Bounce Off Boulder. Man, that’s a really technical rapid, with a challenging approach! Big B. decides that it’s time to show his swimmer’s cred. He plows right into the large pourover rock mid river just above B.O.B. It was carnage of beauty. His lime green Villain flew over that boulder like something out of the Dukes of Hazard, but the landing, was not so great, as it was an upside down one. Big B. then spent half an hour rock climbing and bouldering through the gorge to get to his boat. This was due to the fact that another boater and I were fighting over who got to bulldoze his boat to shore. Big B. then became our 3rd victim. He decided that he had had enough as well. He nobly told us to carry on without him, and then pulled his boat up the steep bank, only to drop it, watch it slide all the way back into the river, and have to jump in after it.

Now that we had narrowed down the group a bit, we actually got to the easy rapids! Of course, I’m sure Mark swam once or twice in there somewhere, but that hardly seems worth mentioning. I managed to swim in one of the same places I had swam on my first trip, in a little slot move. I set up for my roll, and waited, and waited, and frankly, was just wayyyy to picky about how the current was hitting my blade and ran out of air and just punched out. I was in pout mode big time! I have been playing around with a smaller paddle with a shorter shaft and smaller blades, and it’s been messing with head a lot more than it’s been refining my technique! Blondie also decided to swim a couple of times in this section to make me feel better. I thought it was ironic she swam “Wonder Woman”. I flipped a second time, and this time decided that there was no need for hesitation and hit my combat roll with no problem, making me feel somewhat redeemed.

We must have had at least 10 swims total. But it was a fun day. I thought that section was super exciting. I thought a lot of it was more technical (though less vertical) than the river above Baby Falls. “The Supplier of Steaks” has a new favorite run.

Jay Davis
November 25, 2011