Long Haul MK I Float from Smooth Rapids to VFW

River turns left ahead

Note that all images and captions are aligned center in editing mode.

Last Saturday I paddled the Barren Fork/Collins River from Smooth Rapids at McMinnville to the former VFW lodge just outside McMinnville. I got to Smooth Rapids a little after 11:00, dropped off my kayak and gear, then the guy who runs the place met me at the VFW parking lot where I left the Volvo. He said they had some scheduling conflicts for shuttling that day.

Smooth Rapids McMinnville

The VFW lodge is now owned by somebody trying to run a barbecue restaurant. It didn’t look “Open” on Saturday but there were a few people around back who said they were preparing for a charity auction that night. I spoke with them because I needed change for a 20 in order pay the honor-system parking fee of five dollars.

That’s the foot brace. Underneath, you can see rudder pedal assembly. Those little pins left and right are a bear to insert while the kayak’s assembled – see my first post about this kayak. Also, note those Body Glove water shoes – they’re like buckets for bringing water into the boat.

I paddled Saturday without the rudder, leaving the pedal assembly in place but clipping in the foot-plate supplied by Long Haul. The foot plate ‘covers’ the rudder pedals. The bow gunwale halves come with a strap and clip for it pre-installed on either side. The top clip should be hung from the bow deckbar between ribs 2 and 3 during assembly. I didn’t but was able to attach it without much trouble when I deflated the sponsons some to remove the spraydeck. When I’d got underway, I found I hadn’t tightened both sides the same. You can see some slack left side in the picture, above.

By mistake I grabbed a 220 cm paddle from the paddle-bin instead of the 225 I’d planned to use. Turned out 220 cm is plenty long enough for the Long Haul Mark I. Without the spraydeck, the kayak’s gothic arch cockpit is easy to get into and out of.

Not far downriver from Smooth Rapids

Last Saturday was warmer than the previous Saturday, so I wore shorts, quick-dry undergarments and a short-sleeved shirt as well as Body Glove foot-shaped water shoes with drain holes. Those water shoes acted like little buckets and shipped a lot of water every time I got into the kayak. The week before, when it was about 10 degrees cooler, I’d worn splash pants with a pair of Chota Mukluk Light shoes, kept the spraydeck in place, and the kayak stayed very dry inside.

If you float the entire route I paddled, it’s supposed to take about four hours. I completed the section of river in about two. I paddled most of the way and felt disappointed it hadn’t taken longer. On the other hand, I wasn’t really enjoying the experience – no fault of the river or the kayak.

The temperature was warm and the skies mostly overcast, but without rain or even mist until the drive home. The river water was pretty cold and I wasn’t dressed suitably for immersion. The kayak’s Comfort Seat stayed inflated this time and was pretty comfortable. I’m undecided whether to move it forward. May leave it where it is for a while.

Lunch stop – I think I’d already eaten the Larabar by the time I got here.

My heart wasn’t really in it last weekend – I was feeling glum about the recent national election. I’m not feeling excited about it today, but I remain hopeful that recounts, independent IT data scourers and the courts will result in a Trump win.

But I say that in order to explain in part why my experience on the water last Saturday, while not crap, wasn’t a lot of fun for me and I found myself just thinking about getting to the take-out and heading back to the house.

Without the rudder, I found I had to make a lot of corrective strokes to keep the kayak pointed in the direction I was looking. It tended to driftcock or weathercock or leecock or whatever the right term is.

I leaned modestly to put the kayak on its side a bit to turn more quickly. Stability for this didn’t seem too worrisome. Feeling connected to the kayak for me was a problem relative to leaning, though. In a couple of places where the river’s elevation dropped and turned, the Mark I proved maneuverable enough to pretty easily left then right.

Although it’s natural to hook my knees up under the curled tops of the middle cockpit rib, No. 4. They’re not as good as carlings, but they’re okay. I need to better adjust the foot brace, and I do plan to move the rudder pedal assembly as close to Rib No. 3 as possible when I next assemble the boat.

There’s a narrow channel just right of that fallen tree, the Mark I turned just fine and didn’t scrape bottom.

The water was running high enough I never had to get out of the kayak to pull it through shallow water over rocks. At one point the hull scraped a rock. Later, back at the house, I noticed part of a keelstrip’s black outer coating had scraped off. The hullskin’s previous owner had applied a lot of Aqua Seal. It’s started peeling off all over the hull and looks terrible but I don’t think that’s much of a problem.

Coming out the other side of that channel mentioned in the previous caption.
Fall Colors

During my brief trip downriver, I saw several great blue herons. I saw one bird that looked like a cross between a blue jay and a woodpecker. I saw two fat groundhogs shuffling fast along the shoreline. I saw a fish surface quickly. I don’t recall whether I saw any turtles.

Pallet up in the branches of that dead tree center photo. Pretty colors, sky, trees even if the composition looks a little Gilligan’s Island.

I saw a weathered wooden pallet about halfway up in some tree branches near where the Collins River flows into the Barren Fork. Snapped a picture of that.

Short video small waterfall Barren Fork R.

At one or two points during my float, I wasn’t able to hear any man-made sounds. I let my ears find their focus listening to a small waterfall on my right. Wind sounds in the many trees’ dry leaves also accompanied my paddle’s rhythmic splash.

At the takeout I had a hard time getting my kayak on the Volvo’s roof-racks on the steepish-for-that-purpose concrete boat ramp. About halfway up the ramp is a flat spot for turn-off, but I thought it imprudent to drag the kayak that far. A fellow paddler who arrived a little after I did helped me get the boat on the racks.

Concrete ramp at VFW Lodge. If you look close, you can just see the curled part of Rib No. 4 which is useful for bracing knees against.

When I set out, I thought I would stop on the way home for a cheeseburger. I’d been wanting one of those Burger King Impossible Whoppers. I like them because I don’t feel heavy and polluted like I do after eating an ordinary fast food cheeseburger. But I didn’t stop. I’d had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a Larabar about a half hour after getting on the river. That was enough until supper. I have some work to do figuring out my caloric needs.

Reformation Day Paddle

Paddling toward Hwy 41-A

NB – photo/caption alignment is unreliable in this version of WordPress editor.

Last Saturday, 31 October 2020, I paddled my new-to-me Long Haul Mark I kayak for the first time. I put in at Estill Springs City Park – an easily accessible primitive launch site – dirt, no real ramp, park where you can. Before leaving the house, I’d already planned to put in and paddle to the right – toward the populated by lake houses banks of Tims Ford Lake and as far as the Loop. I thought the water levels at the lake would be winter-pool low, so didn’t think I’d get far if I paddled up toward the dam at Woods Reservoir.

When I got to the put in, the water level looked sufficiently high to paddle in either direction, but I carried on with my planned route. There was a headwind to paddle against in the direction I chose, but I hoped that would have the wind at my back on my return trip.

Problems

Before getting to the water, I had to solve two new problems. The Long Haul Comfort Seat in the Mark I tends to flip forward – a circumstance that cannot but cause problems when the paddler enters the cockpit. I fixed that by using a small bungie cord. See the photo, below.

This short bungie keeps the seatback from flipping forward

The second problem, and one I should have considered more fully when assembling the kayak Friday, was that I needed to move the rudder pedal assembly forward from where I originally pinned it into place in the middle of the bow keelson’s track. Mark Eckhart, in his instructional video for the MK I assembly, recommends attaching the rudder pedal assembly before the forward frame half is inserted into the hullskin. The reason for this, as I learned, is that the attachment track and the pins that secure the assembly to the track are most easily accessible while the frame half is outside the skin.

Saturday morning, before loading the kayak onto the car, I decided to move the assembly closer to Rib No. 3 because at 5’9-5’10”, my legs might not reach much further forward while underway. Thought it was better to reach the pedals even if slightly uncomfortable than to not reach them at all while on the water.

I almost didn’t get the assembly reattached. I sweated and prayed a good deal but my efforts were ultimately successful. I then adjusted the number of chainlinks for the rudder cables at the carabiner on each rudder pedal. Less annoyingly difficult than what went before.

An older problem long since solved is getting a heavy, wood-framed folding kayak onto a car’s roof rack. Ralph Hoehn suggested this to me years ago. Open the car’s front door, lift the bow end of the kayak and set it on the top of the open door. Then lift the stern end onto the car’s rear crossbar. Then the bow end onto the front crossbar. Make adjustments, secure the kayak, go. Here’s an illustration – bow end on front door, stern end on back crossbar:

Door loading/unloading trick

Immediately after I got underway, I felt the tension in the left rudder pedal give way with a sound that seemed to indicate something’d broken. I got out of the kayak at shoreline and, negotiating the spraydeck’s opening with arms, head, shoulders while using my teeth as a third hand, I counted out the cable links and re-fastened the chain to the left pedal’s carabiner. Nothing had broken, I’d just failed to make secure the connection before I left the house. Thought I had, but was mistaken. Getting that corrected was more difficult than solving my rudder assembly placement earlier in the day.

Paddling Impressions

In an online forum, I noted that I felt weak or out of shape when it came to paddling this kayak for the first time. In the last ten years or so, I haven’t paddled regularly. When my son got old enough to miss me when I was gone all day, I started cycling instead.

Part of the problem was I used an unfamiliar paddle for the first time Saturday, too. I bought a 240 cm Werner Camano paddle from Ebay early last month knowing I’d be getting Mark I.

That’s my Ebay 240 cm Werner Camano paddle

As I think back about it, I would have been better off using my old Eric Renshaw Greenland paddle or even my heavy Aqua-Bound paddle. 240 centimeters is too long for this solo kayak. 230 or 225 would be better for me. The Werner’s a nice paddle. Lightweight, strong. It’ll work for my RZ-96 or even my old Grumman canoe.

Rail bridge foreground and bridge at 41-A

It took me a while to feel like I was equal to paddling, controlling the Mark I. The kayak is 15′ 10″ in length and 28″ wide. The manufacturer’s website says the kayak weighs 69#, but I think that’s without rudder/pedals and the seat. It’s pretty heavy.

After paddling past the rail and highway bridges at 41-A, I found the robotic, ab-crunching torso rotation reliant paddling style that has always got me out and back again even when feeling so worn out that paddling felt like a clumsy, tedious slog.

I do lift weights most days a gym, but the artificial practice of strength training with machines and free weights is crap compared to using my muscles to do real work in the real world. Paddling versus weights – paddling’s better. So’s cycling.

The Long Haul I don’t paddle as fast as I did my old E-68. It’s more immediately stable than the E-68. Because I wasn’t totally comfortable with my connection to the kayak at the rudder pedals or with my knees against the gunwales and also because I wasn’t comfortable with my new paddle, I didn’t try to lean the kayak or do any braces. Maybe next time with a shorter paddle.

All in all, counting breaks for bladder relief (out of sight of any lakehouse residents) and a lunch stop, I was probably on the lake for about four hours. My paddling experience was pretty awful due to being out of shape and out of practice.

Shallow grove

I saw a grove of trees standing in shallow water with oddly shaped trunks. I saw some great blue herons, other birds I couldn’t identify, some turtles. Mossy rocks.

I paddled out to the Loop, then explored a backwater accessed through a tunnel under the highway that leads to Loop Drive, I think it’s called. I passed numerous palatial lake houses. One of them reminded me of the Apple Barn restaurant and shops in Sevierville. On the way back to the put in, I saw a bald eagle. The picture didn’t turn out very well. The bird looked alert and oriented, a beautiful creature.

Estill Springs City Park put in

By the time I got back to Estill Springs City Park I was glad to see the car again. Got some dirt or sand on my back deck – no idea how that happened.

Dirt? No idea how it got there
Inexpertly tied painter knots

Long Haul Mark I

The Long Haul Mark I Kayak I purchased earlier this month. First assembly 10/30/20.

The kayak arrived in boxes last Wednesday and I only had time at lunch to unbox the parts, stow them in their bags. My wife noticed them in the garage when she got home in the afternoon.

Longerons, keelson halves, gunwales, yellow spraydeck. Looking top-down into the packing box.
Bags, ribs, rudder assembly, Comfort Seat.

I got the kayak at a bargain price. Mark had sewn a new deck on a customer’s hull but the fellow found it unsatisfactory – had to do with the rubber bash-pads either side of the cockpit – he thought they leaked, over-applied Aqua-Seal to the seams. Looks awful. Mark, the manufacturer, hypothesized the rubber pads stiffen up and form concavities with deck fabric inboard their inner edges allowing some water to pool there and seep in through the deck seam. Since I’m not an ocean going paddler crossing several miles between mainland and island fairly often, the hullskin will probably suffice for my uses. And the keelstrips on that hull – keelstrips on top of keelstrips.

Again, regarding the bargain price – Mark assembled the frame from odd parts remaining in his workshop. So they don’t all match – I’ll post some photos when I get a chance to illustrate what I mean. A few Klepper parts mixed in. Some had been finished with Line-X versus varnished. I have a maroon seat. Yellow spray deck and a gray skirt to go with it. Klepper rudder modified slightly.

Because I have been working from home, when there’s a hole in my schedule, as long as my documentation’s caught up, I have some freedom relative to time use. Yesterday, in my spare time and during my lunch hour, I assembled the Mark I for the first time. I think I’ve got the rudder pedals further forward than is going to work well, and I’ll have to correct seat placement. Hopefully will get a couple of hours on the water today.

Lately, instead of Star Wars expanded universe novels, I’ve been reading the Galaxy’s Edge series. From the Star Wars universe I first read the work of one Karen Traviss – Republic Commandos series, a few others, a lot of thought put into the Mandalorian background, language, culture, history, planetary dispersion, etc. Good character development, not too preachy. A good friend of mine refers to her characters as “the Fett Brothers.”

A few weeks ago, I had a look at her blog and saw an entry about a novel she’d published in late 2019 entitled The Best of Us. I’ve reviewed it on Amazon. Like a Mitford novel with actual peril, guns, spies, spaceships, aliens, artificial intelligence – by “like Mitford” I mean not alarmingly fast paced with good depth of character development, a “richness” (although I don’t like using advertising copy words) to the novel’s “texture” (another one of those words) that is unusual for Science Fiction and is an element of Traviss’ work that sets it apart.

Since Ms. Traviss’ next installment has not been published yet, I’ve passed the time reading a lot of the other novels from the series. I’ve reviewed on Amazon Anspach and Cole’s “Madame Guillotine” – can’t figure out how to get the blog posting software to underline. Pretty good critique of contemporary political culture in the U.S. and Western countries, particularly. If I have any criticism of Anspach and Cole’s work, it is they tend to over-use elements of contemporary popular culture. For instance, the “Ready Player One” thing from their “Gods and Legionnaires” novel – second in the Savage Wars series. That said, whichever of them wrote the parts about Southern California in the 70s to the 80s got it right. I remember it from my own childhood and youth.

That’s the sticker corner in my boatshed. My Article 19 sticker’s going on the car.

New Folding Kayak

If you’ve noticed, in the Flickr feed at main page’s left side is a photo of a blue folding kayak. That is a Long Haul Mark I solo boat with expedition hull and associated accessories and I should be in possession of it by month’s end. In time to do some Fall paddling before freezing weather sets in. This week, I’ll send my Bombergear Radiator drysuit in for service and should have that back about the time the kayak gets here. So looking forward to time on the water in a single that’s faster than my Aleut. Got a second hand Werner Camano paddle from Ebay a week ago.

Update 10-23-20

The Mark I is scheduled for delivery next Wednesday. ūüôā

Last Saturday, 10-17-20, I sent my ancient BomberGear Radiator drysuit to Drysuits Plus, Inc, in Texas for needed repairs. It’d been folded up on a shelf in my bedroom closet for about the past 10 or 11 years. Gaskets both brittle and gooey. I thought the suit would be fine in that temperature controlled environment. I was wrong.

The postal service still hasn’t completed the delivery. Mail-in voting? Yeah, right.

A

Life Since June

As my June 2019 post indicated, I’ve been focused much more on living life than photographing or writing about it.

Did I mention it here?¬† In June, for my wife’s birthday, I got it into my head to bake her a cake.¬† She requested a cherry chip cake made from scratch.¬† I ended up more assisting her than making it myself, but she was pleased.¬† It was good enough to eat.

Cherry-Chip-Cake

Frosting also from scratch

Good-Enough-to-Eat

Turned out the cake was edible

In July, my family and I motored north to my wife’s family farm in Indiana (I always hate writing ‘in Indiana’ but this time will not find another way to present that data) where my wife was briefly reabsorbed by her family, I spent a lot of time bicycling, and our son hung out with and bonded with his cousins.¬† I crashed or fell off my bike twice in the same day injuring a different shoulder each time and am still feeling the residual effects of one of the injuries.¬† Both falls were stupid and each was my own fault – while annoying, that truth actually does help me accept the ongoing pain.¬† ¬†Rode to Muncie, Prairie Creek Reservoir, small municipalities thereabouts.¬† I saw what looked like a heroes’-gate shrine of some sort.¬† No hero this writer, I didn’t walk through the gate although I found it open.

Indiana-Chip-&-Seal-Road

Indiana chip and seal road

July-3-2019-Ride

Nazarene church parking lot where I crashed the first time.¬† Don’t ask.

Muncie-Chic-Fil--A

Muncie Chic-Fil-A.  I eat there every year.

Muncie-Grafitto

Only one graffiti snapshot.  Grassroots Christianity is an interesting phenomenon.

Patriotic-House

Patriotic display in a poor community.  I really liked it.

Heroes'-Gate

Heroes’ gate

Sometime during the intervening months, my car hit 222,222 miles, but I snapped the odometer photo at 222,223 – missed it by that much.

Missed-It-by-This-Much

Missed it by that much…

Last month, my son and I finally painted the mailbox’s weathered, white wooden post.¬† My mother has averted her eyes in shame the past 5 – 6 years when she’s come over to the house to visit due to the deficient pride in ownership that neglect has evidenced.¬† The month before, I finally finished sanding out the damage perpetrated by our yard’s squirrels upon three of my 2005 Pouch RZ96’s cockpit ribs.¬† I’d left the kayak assembled outdoors and neglected it during a dark period in my life when I worked in an agency maybe best described as the unfortunate-kid-from-the-dysfunctional-family-down-the-street of law enforcement.¬† About three weeks ago, I re-varnished the squirrel damaged ribs.

Repaired,-varnished-RZ96-Ribs

I’ve been writing out my thoughts and ideas – working on a conceptualization of a variety of human interaction I refer to as “Shit Room Theory.”¬† It’s not ready for publication yet and I’m trying to figure out how to manage a lecture on the subject for my YouTube channel.¬† That said, in its embryonic form, the theory’s been of help to two or three individuals facing a variety of unpleasantness.

After having been in my “new” office since March of this year, I finally last month admitted to myself I was unable to make sense of the room’s shape, its space, for the purposes of hanging my stack of artwork and arranging my furniture.¬† Once I’d done that, I asked a family friend if she could help me out with the office and within the space of about 4.5 hours, she’d corrected and made sense of my office’s decor – I simply followed instructions and moved things, sorted clutter.¬† The woman’s a genius.¬† If it wasn’t a breach of my company’s rules, I’d post a couple of photos to prove it.

Within a couple of days of that, a family very dear to us relocated to Helena, Montana.¬† Theodore Zachariades has taken a position preaching at a Reformed Baptist congregation not far from that capitol as well as working with a Christian polemics website, Pulpit & Pen.¬† Although I haven’t had much contact with the Theodore and his family in the past year and a half, my world feels emptier with them hundreds of miles distant.¬† Not gone, as the Expanded Universe Mandos have it, just marching far away.

Yesterday morning, I assembled the RZ96 and with my son’s help loaded it onto my Volvo’s roof-racks and drove to a nearby slough with a put-in at a rural city park.¬† I gave the boy the good water shoes and wore a many year’s old pair from Wal-Mart that tore up while we were lining the boat through shallows.¬† This was his first time in a kayak, and he’d been nervous because he supposed the behemoth unstable.¬† By day’s end, however, he was comfortable enough to stand while underway to better view the scenery.¬†¬†I hope you have all been well and that you enjoy the photos.

Avec-Fils-RZ96

Bees'-Nest

My son saw what he referred to as a “bees’ nest.” We steered well clear of this hazard.

RZ96-2d-Lunch-Stop

Second lunch stop.  Dunno whether these were piers from bygone footbridge or part of an equally past-tense dam of some sort.

RZ96-Elk-River-Shallows

In the shallows.¬† That’s a Klepper paddle probably my age.¬† We did some umbrella sailing early on.¬† My son didn’t think it would work and was amazed when it did.

Christov10-RZ96-2019

This is how I look when I’m smiling.¬† Obligatory selfie.

From Smooth Rapids to VFW Lodge, McMinnville – Folbot Aleut

With the 2003 Anniversary Edition Folbot¬† Aleut I bought in late June, I drove to McMinnville again to float the Barren Fork River from Smooth Rapids to the VFW lodge.¬† My son and I paddled that length of river¬† in our Grumman canoe.¬† Longer ago than that, after a rainy week, I’d taken the Aleut to Smooth Rapids only to be advised against putting in there by the guy in charge that day d/t debris, etc.

In late September, I finally got back to Smooth Rapids with the Aleut, but by then we’d had about no appreciable rain on the Upper Cumberland Plateau for about two weeks, and I had some concerns about low water level.¬† Still, hypalon’s supposed to be a tough material for hullskins, and I numerous times dragged a 75# wood-framed solo kayak with PVC hull over rocks and fallen trees and heaven knows what crud may choke a laughably small river’s channel.¬† Without mishap.

During my late September paddle/float down the Barren Form & Collins rivers, I had reason to regret leaving a handy painter in the car.¬† Two or three times I my kayak hung on rocks and one time I just got out and pulled the Aleut, wagon-like, behind me.¬† I started writing this post about a month ago, but I’d already prepped the snapshots, so here they are:

Bow Half Float Bag

Stern Half Float Bag

Bow and stern sections, respectively, with NRS medium float bags. Inflated, they take up most of bow and stern sections under the deck.¬† Pretty good displacement for the 12′ Aleut, I’d guess.

Smooth Rapids Put In

That’s the Smooth Rapids restaurant, office, store up there on the hillside. Restaurant seating is available up there¬† on the deck.¬† You can drive down near the put in, then back up the hill to a parking lot out of frame to the building’s left.

Aleut Seatback

That’s how I got the Folbot’s seatback to stay in place. I’ve got the seatback’s tension pretty high and lean forward when paddling.¬† Sort of like a backband, but not quite.¬† Just making due with what I’ve got.

Aleut & Klepper Paddle

That’s the first kayak paddle I ever bought – probably close to my own age, it’s about 240 cm in length and is a Klepper paddle.¬† I tried it out on this river float trip and found it far superior for the purpose than my Eric Renshaw Greenland style paddle that’s a lot shorter.¬† Also, the Klepper paddle’s got metal riveted to the blades’ edges which proved helpful this day.¬† I think in future this is the paddle I’ll be using with the Aleut at least until I get a longer Greenland paddle.¬† I think I mentioned in a previous post about smashing fingernails against the Aleut’s deckline D-rings using the shorter paddle; not a problem with the Klepper paddle.

Barren R Steep Rocky

Meadowy Grove

Future Fossil Bed

Confluence Construction

Construction Site Runoff

Too Shallow Need Painter

Barren R Curve

I wish I’d had time to get out and paddle a Franklin County slough, today, but instead dropped off the Jamis for some repairs and the Sprite frame for headset.¬† Stopped by a gun store and range where I spoke with a fellow I haven’t seen in several years, entered a drawing for a “tactical” shotgun.¬† If I win it, I’ll review it here.

 

 

Barren Fork River Float, McMinnville, Tenn.

Collins River Vista

Last Sunday, my son and I skipped church and floated the Barren Fork River through McMinnville in Warren County. ¬†We put in at Smooth Rapids (who shuttled us back for about $11.00) and took out at a concrete ramp in the VFW parking lot – a downstream journey of about six miles. ¬†Another father and son team paddled with us; the kids threw rocks in the water, talked, went for a swim, shared snacks. ¬†After we got back to the outfitters and put the canoe back on the Cross Country, we had a pretty good lunch at the restaurant the outfitter operates overlooking the riverside launch point. ¬†Here are some pictures – I’ll add a few more later as I noticed none of those I’ve posted below are particularly good representations of the river as seen while paddling downstream.

Canoeists

Kayak Fishers

Kayak Fisher

We saw at least three guys paddling sit-on-top purpose designed fishing kayaks not too far downstream from Smooth Rapids put in, and tried to keep our noise to a minimum until we got past.  Much later on, we saw three or four guys in what looked like an Oregon drift-boat (only with an outboard motor) Рthey were also fishing.

Turtles

We saw numerous turtles along our route sunning themselves on logs.

Rocky Undercut

Some rocky cliff faces with undercuts, as above, in many places to our left as we paddled downstream.

Water Grass

A lot of this kind of water grass we saw during the entirety of our trip downstream.

Two Canoes

Got out of the canoes here so the kids could swim and throw rocks into the water. It was here that we picked up a number of rocks, and piled them in the boats so the boys could throw them when we continued. ¬†Easy fun, and I was happy to note they didn’t throw them at each other.

Collins R Meets Barren Fork

Here’s where the Collins River meets the Barren Fork River. ¬†On the map, the stream’s marked Collins River past this point.

Nearing VFW

This point is not too far from the VFW parking lot take out.

Aleut on the Elk River

Did I mention the Folbot Aleut is slow compared to the kayaks I’ve been used to? ¬†It is. ¬†Back when I was paddling every available free day I had, was used to traveling fast and a lot farther. ¬†This weekend, I’d planned to paddle the river that runs alongside McMinnville, Tennessee, putting in at Smooth Rapids and having them shuttle me back from the VFW lodge – only about 8 miles and maybe four hours, but downstream so the Aleut’s speed limitations wouldn’t bug me as much.

NOAA indicated only 30% of thunderstorms which meant, to me, 70% chance of no thunderstorms. ¬†Weather radar imagery was clear. ¬†I attached the Folbot to my car’s top, put my overpreparedness gear in a large bag and that bag in the car and set out. ¬†You’ll notice what I’d failed to do before driving 30-odd miles – didn’t call the outfitter to make sure they were operating.

The fellow running the place asked, “Are you sure?”

“Why would I need to be sure about this?”

“The river’s at flood stage – we’ve had storms all week.”

“Yeah, the weather has been crap.”

“Whenever we have storms here, we get trees falling across the river.” ¬†He went on to mention that two or three people had died during the past couple of months in the area – a kayaker on that stretch of river a couple of weeks ago when his boat capsized caught in a strainer and he panicked, and two swimmers drowned at Rock Island. ¬†He said he had no way to tell whether the water was passable. ¬†Said the water was about three feet above normal level.

“Would you do it?”

“No,” he said, “and I’ve (paddled those eight miles) a hundred times.”

So, I left and went in search of some other water to paddle.  On the way back to I-24, I looked for an access point to Womack Lake, but finding none, I decided to put in at Prairie Plains Road Bridge, on the Elk River in maybe Coffee County, and drove out there.

This time, I’d remembered to take my Magellan Cyclo 505 to measure progress in addition to what my wife considers my usual over-prparedness. ¬†It might have been about 11:00 a.m. when I arrived at the put-in. ¬†No one else was there, and during my entire paddle upstream and most of my paddle downstream past where I’d launched, I saw no one else on the water.

Magellan Sat Route Photo

The furthest point on this image shows where I found a place to eat lunch. The 505 unit shared a PFD pocket with my camera and it’s touchscreen apparently got bumped and it shut itself off. ¬†I didn’t get much past this point after eating. ¬†A ways into my paddle back downstream I again looked at the unit and recorded part of the downstream paddle.

I did see about 30 turtles sunning themselves on logs, one large snake, also sunning on a log, and three otters swimming fast downstream while I ate my lunch. ¬†A few great blue herons, numerous other birds I couldn’t identify, and a flock of swallows swarming around the bridge as I came back downstream.

A few pictures with brief descriptions from start to finish:

Elk R 7-8-17

Not far upstream from Prairie Plains Road Bridge.  It turned out not to be as jammed up with broken trees as it looks here.

Elk River Snake

So, as I was paddling by I saw what looked like an iguana sunning itself on a log.  When I got closer, I saw it was instead a snake curled up, sunning itself on a log.  I snapped the picture when I got a little further away using zoom.  During the rest of my time on and around the water I remained mindful of the possibility of snakes on over-hanging tree limbs and nearby logs.

Winged Visitor

This creature landed where you see it and rode with me for about a mile upstream.

Elk R Local Color

My photographic skills and camera failed to capture the bright beauty of these occasional pink flowers I saw from time to time on either bank of the Elk.

Campsis Radicans

Campsis radicans growing on a tree overhead.  Also the name of my old Pouch E68 kayak.

Some Water...

The camera got wet; I guess I paddled more vigorously than usual, yesterday.

Lunch Stop

Here’s where I backed in and ate my lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwich and one of those wafer-cookie bicyclist snacks – before paddling out and turning left. I made maybe two-tenths of a mile more upstream before I turned back. ¬†I’d wasted half the day driving to McMinnville and then trying to find access to that small lake. ¬†And the current was stronger the farther upstream I paddled.

Flooded Creek

On the way back downstream, on my right, I explored a flooded creek that’s normally impassible. I got this far and photographed the flooded vista beyond.

Flooded Creek Water Plants

Here’re some of the plants growing under the water on that flooded creek.

The Way Out

And here’s the way back out to the Elk.

Floating Downstream

As someone has noted on a FoldingKayaks.org forum thread, the Folbot Aleut is stable enough you can sit back put your legs up outside the cockpit. Floating back downstream was lot less trouble than paddling upstream.  I ate another pbj sandwich and relaxed a bit.

Prairie Plains Rd. Bridge

There’s the bridge beyond which is the dirt ramp where I launched a couple of hours previously. ¬†I paddled down farther, toward some of the islands at the top of Woods Reservoir, got repeatedly buzzed by a wasp, whack the snot out of the insect with my paddle, turned around and headed back to the car.

Red Car Blue Boat

And there’s the car with the kayak on top.

Folbot Aleut First Report

Aleut View Forward

Today, I paddled my new 2003 Anniversary Edition Folbot Aleut for the first time. ¬†Most of you know this already, but the Aleut is Folbot’s 12′ single kayak. ¬†Here’s a link to information on the Folbot line-up of folding kayaks that I think was current when the company went out of business last year (2016). ¬†Weighing about 40#, it’s easy to put on the car’s roof racks. ¬†I used a couple of cheap foam blocks to protect the hull. ¬†The boat’s aluminum frame, probably aluminum in general, ‘feels’ more fragile to me than my previous folders’ wooden frames. ¬†The Aleut’s gothic arch cockpit is huge – it seems even bigger from the inside. ¬†I used a bungie cord to keep the seatback in place. ¬†I remember reading on the old Folbot Forum that the style seat my kayak’s got consistently annoyed users by falling forward when they entered the cockpit.

Aleut Lakeside

The Aleut has zero rocker, is beamy, has a lot of primary stability but I was unsure of its secondary stability so I edged to turn with caution. ¬†It was a little breezy today and I found the kayak didn’t turn into the wind much; no rudder today nor was one needed. ¬†The kayak seems sturdy, stable, not bothered by boat-wake or small wind-waves.

Compared to Campsis Radicans, my old Pouch E68, the Folbot Aleut is pretty slow. ¬†Surely no more than six miles did I paddle this afternoon, but I had no real plan except to put the boat in the water and paddle it around a bit. ¬†It took me a mile or two to remember how and begin to paddle efficiently. ¬† The kayak’s D-rings for perimeter line are placed where I carelessly and repeatedly whacked them with the paddle. ¬†Altering habitual form to avoid that will take at least conscious effort and another excursion to effect. ¬†My form today was sufficiently poor that one of my elbows hurts.

Aleut Beached

As you can see from the pictures, I overprepared – spare paddle, a couple of dry-bags with stuff I might need, a second lunch in case I got hungry, a bilge pump, a bilge sponge, about a gallon of drinking water in a Viet-Nam era military collapsible canteen.

I rode my ’07 Jamis Supernova this morning and again this evening after supper. ¬†Being active outside feels good.

Aleut & Supernova

Old Canoe & New Paddler

Last Sunday afternoon I took my son for his first time on the water in our canoe since he was about two years old. ¬†We paddled about an hour and stopped a couple of times so he could jump in the water. ¬†Here’re three photos:

Canoe Excursion 1

Moorings

MTCanoe

Last week, I reaffixed the peeling edges of three of the Aleut’s keelstrips. This weekend, I’m planning to paddle it for the first time. ¬†Here it is on my Volvo wagon’s crossbars. ¬†I tried to work out how far apart to space them. Got a couple of cheap foam blocks to serve as hull or deck cradles. ¬†Dunno yet whether to cartop it hull-down or deck-up. ¬†Regarding the deck, I stupidly applied the wrong 303 product to it last week – the UV protectant that’s intended for ¬†hull-type material. ¬†It doesn’t seem to have harmed the fabric in any easily discernible way. ¬†I’ll get some Fabric Guard soon, though.

Folbot on Volvo

For those of you who actually know me, my former telephone number ending in 6642 is no longer active. The same area code and prefix with last four digits 1389 is active.  Also, with that phone, I can actually send and receive text messages, although my texting skillset is below average.