patagoina

River Rats on the Big South Fork

Over the Easter Holiday a few pals and I took off to paddle a 32 mile stretch of the Big South Fork which flows north from Tennessee to Kentucky. We didn’t really know what we were getting into which seemed innocent enough at the time. Our stoke certainly outweighed our concerns.

We went into the trip with the better part of three days to paddle the river and run a few rapids. Hudson, Jon, and myself took to a single kayak and a 17 foot canoe which was a great choice because cramming three people in that canoe would have been agony! We all slept in hammocks and had plenty of food and a few cold ones to last us on a leisurely pace.

After opting for a front end shuttle which I highly advise (so many pros that the $60 fee was totally worth it) we somewhat nervously set off to paddling back to our truck. The nerves came from not knowing exactly what was coming around each bend. We did a little homework and knew there were two portages (carrying you craft around a particularly gnarly section of rapids, class 4 from class 2) but besides that we didn’t have a clue as to what was where. It was awesome! 

It took us some time to get into the flow of things figuring out the best way to pack the canoe, and reading the river, and figuring out how the boats liked to be treated. We had all been on aquatic adventures before but for the three of us to be on this river in these boats was all new! 

We quickly came to understand the magnitude and timelessness of this form of travel. People have been traveling by water for thousands of years. With a decent flow and steady paddling we could cover the entire 30 mile distance easily in a day with fully packed canoes. You could never cover that distance with that much gear on foot. The wind and flow of rivers offers so much exploration and opportunity for discovery. 

Another thing that quickly stuck me was the tranquility and stillness that hovered around the river. The remoteness of the area certainly helped but its as if all the creation around us was so content that there was no need for unnecessary noise. Everything was the way it needed to be so everything continued on the steady coarse of life. It was amazing to be able to pass through these moments and become apart of them, sharing in the simple goodness of life in this pocket of a wild land.

In a very similar way that sound tracks create mood, tension, and suspense in movies the slow crescendo of the rapids without the sight of them in front of us caused an uneasiness and stirred a dormant doubt to the forefront of our minds. “This sounds like a lot of water… Are we going to make this one?” All the quiet is stirred into chaos and white noise. The river shifts from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hide and reveals a more brutal side of its personality. With courage and adrenaline pumping we threw anxieties into the river and plunge into the white water. Always trying to find the driest line as the currents twist and pull us is hazardous directions. The waves break heavy on the bow of the broad canoe and the fore paddler is always in for a few buckets worth of water in the heavy rapids.

If I could do it over again I certainly would, but with a few more dry bags and an awareness that upon flipping anything of value should be lashed to the boats otherwise it has the opportunity to be swallowed by the river. We had a few casualties at one particularly gnarly rapid that was composed of a couple shed sized boulders in the center of the river that constricted the passageway to narrow corridors on wither side. We choose to go left as the water quickly slide us to the right. We broadsided the forward boulder which sent us sideways into the second. Then we watched as the entire flow of the river climbed into our canoe quite helplessly. Bottoms up. Luckily no one was hurt and I didn’t loose my camera, which I was convinced of until we righted the canoe a few hundred yards and five mentally torturous minutes down stream.

Moral of the story is wear your life jackets, make sure anything you don’t want to get wet or lost put in a functional dry bag secured to the boat, wear sunscreen, and prepared yourself to have a boat load of fun. Cheers! 

(More Photos Coming)

youtube

This one makes us smile. 

“It’s about taking a breath, and kicking your feet, in the big blue sea”

Come Hell or High Water.

vimeo

Patagonia Time Lapse Video
( i want to go to there…)

NERD ALERT.

I was looking for a backpack for school (dork) and fell in love with this one from Patagonia. It is $75 which seemed too much to me. HOWEVER, I found it online for 30 dollars less and of I had to pick it up. It came yesterday. Now I am just waiting to when I can actually use it (bigger dork).

I went with a Patagonia bag because I know it will it will stand up to the Dominican rain showers/storms. I am not in denial about being caught in the rain. The Caribbean has to types of weather - hot & sunny or hot & rainy! 

Next Level

A lot can happen in a weekend;


Last time I posted I was talking about how easy my Micro Anatomy exam was supposed to be and how treacherous my Gross Anatomy 2-part exam was probably going to be. Well, I got an 85% on the Micro exam so I’m kinda disappointed, but I think I may get about that grade on the Gross exam so that makes me happy. I’ll probably find out the scores tomorrow. I actually don’t have an exam this coming week, which is scary haha. But I have two the following week, so I guess it’ll balance out. 

I forgot to update everyone on the poverty week. Well, we busted. I busted  when I had to go to a meeting on Wednesday afternoon around 5 and there was free pizza.. I hadn’t eaten well since Sunday and I was literally starving. Not to mention I had a test coming up and no energy to study. I know theres thousands of reasons to quit, and I wish I could say I was man enough to resist, but I wasn’t. I ate that pizza and it was dang good. Maybe the best I ever had haha. Anyway, when I broke down to my crew later that night they pretty much decided it wasn’t worth it any longer. So we ended Wednesday night. But I didn’t spend any money until lunch on Thursday so actually I was really close to finishing.

I really suggest everyone give it a try. Even though I feel kind of ashamed I didn’t make it, I’ll definitely give it another try when my mind doesn’t have to be extremely sharp. The lack of food really f’s with you. Dizziness, loss of sleep, loss of concentration..it adds up. Try it though, make it a goal, test yourself. Everyone needs to figure out what they’re made of.

Well that was Wednesday through Friday, I lounged on Saturday and tried to regain some momentum going into this week. Sunday Avery and I went to explore North Frier’s Beach for some potential boulders to climb. Someone on Facebook turned me onto that beach saying they thought there was something there that could potentially be climbed. So our driver dropped us off at North Frier’s, we searched around for a bit and decided to keep walking the coast line. We eventually decided to walk over to Shipwreck Beach which is just to the South on the Caribbean side. We somehow passed Shipwreck and hiked 4 miles to White House Bay haha. So to recap we went to boulder, found no boulders. hiked 4 miles, then called our driver. Other than the adventure it was a complete waste haha. And I got sunburned, son of a b. June 22 can not get here quick enough. 

I’m about to give up on finding a bouldering spot on the island, but searching around for it isn’t so bad I reckon. Here are a few pictures from our little excursion today. More to come..