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) – they 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.

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Thinking About an Expedition

I’ve been thinking about a Tennessee expedition for at least two, three years, now.  Two of them come readily to mind, although I’m still not clear on whether or what degree of support is needed.  Not too far away from here are the fabled sources of both the Elk and Duck rivers.  Neither river is famous for its commercial value, except in a couple of locations to canoe-float outfitters.  Both have been dammed in one or two places to create lakes used for fishing and other recreational purposes.  The Duck River is contained entirely within the State of Tennessee; the Elk’s course takes it over the state’s southern border and down into Alabama.

The feasibility of hiking, pedaling, and canoeing or kayaking the entire length of the Duck is at present an unknown.  There’s a guy in the UK who’s done something like that – his website takes a while to load, but is pretty cool and worth seeing/reading.  Slingshot Bikes of Michigan produces a foldable, full-size mountain bike that could be stowed aboard a canoe for those parts of the journey that could be completed by canoe.  It’s conceivable that a foldable, stowable trailer could allow the canoe and gear to be pulled with the bicycle overland, or trailered canoe with bike stowed could be pulled by hand where necessary.

Slingshot's folding, full-size mountain or all-terrain type bike

Slingshot’s folding, full-size mountain or all-terrain type bike

I did enter a competition to win the use of a Slingshot bicycle for a period of months, but I and others who posted more serious-minded entries lost out to a Canadian who called himself von Bubblegum and later changed his Facebook surname to Slingshot.  That was the “other venue” I mentioned in my post entitled “Three Years On Two Wheels.”  Ah, well, that’s how it goes.  A company’s got to make marketing decisions it hopes will maximize exposure and increase sales.  I wish the Canadian guy well.  Canada is probably a great market for these bikes, not all of which are foldables.

Stuff I’ve Been Thinking About

Blog Posts

My blog posts, in grammar, content, and style, tend to have the character of telephone pad doodles or the things one writes in the margins while taking notes during a meeting, lecture, or while reading a book.  Mistaken is the person who expects this or any blog to conform to scholastic ideals of “penmanship” or rigid notions of propriety.

Stodgy Canoe Guy

One of the things I like about paddling is the woodsy ambiance or vibe associated with paddling.  It’s especially evident in the preoccupation with things like sandpaper, tung oil, needle-and-thread, preparedness, self-reliance and mutual aid.  And the clothes.  At least the clothes I wear – floppy hat, old permanent press work shirt, long baggy shorts, etc.  For the most part cheap, plain-looking clothes that dry quickly.  I’ll leave the bright colors to the guys zipping around on jet-skiis.

Other Drivers on the Road

Something is wrong with the people who drive their cars, outer elbow (because this is probably true in England as well as America) on the window ledge and forearm hanging down against the outside of the car-door, palm backward, resembling to me a large, usually fat, white-bellied dead fish.  It’s like the driver lacks the energy or some other quality of life that separates the living from zombie-like necessary to so much as control all of his or her limbs, in addition to operating a motor vehicle.  Usually, this type of motorist drives too slowly and seems to take pleasure in aggravating the drivers behind them who, for some reason, cannot yet pass them.  Also, and this is similarly galling, this sort of driver seems to be saying, “I AM TOO BIG, THIS CAR CANNOT CONTAIN ME, I AM BURSTING OUT OF THIS CAR!” which is, in itself, pretty offensive.

I think license plates on vehicles should bear some device or color-coded tag that allows other motorists to determine at a glance the vehicle owner’s Performance Intelligence Quotient (or PREFERABLY some entirely new measure of intelligence specific to motor vehicle operation).  Maybe something that could be abbreviated DIQ.  Drivers are going to let you know all about theirs, anyway, but it would be nice to know at a glance in order to plan lane changes and passing before it becomes necessary to dodge some erratic manifestation of deficiency or impaired ability.  Drivers with seriously impaired DIQs could be required to drive vehicles like that Obama soap-bubble, the so-called “Smart Car” – that way when they crash their vehicles into other vehicles or buildings they will do less harm to other people.

The use of cellular telephones by anyone operating a motor vehicle should be prohibited; pull over to talk on the phone.

Feeling Rich

When I bought that canoe Ohio last week, then took it to the White River and paid the outfitter there a measly $13.00 for shuttle service, I felt rich.  A man who has his own canoe is a man of substance, and a man who can use his own strength and sense to propel it on the water’s surface is a man who feels rich, indeed.

I do not know why, having owned five folding kayaks, I never felt that way before about owning and paddling that type of boat.  Folding kayaks are uniquely beautiful.  They tend to be more expensive to purchase than canoes.  I think the difference is a sense of permanence.  A folding kayak is designed to be put away or packed for easy transportation to the location of its intended use, whereas an aluminum canoe is designed to retain its shape and withstand the elements through time.  True it is that folding kayaks are designed likewise to last through time.  The most recent of these that I have purchased was manufactured around 1962 and was watertight when I got it.  The Grumman canoe is 36 years old, the Pionier kayak is 47.

I felt a bitter sense of loss when it was time to put the canoe in to the barn loft at the farm last Friday.  The feeling is similar to what I experience every time I disassemble one of my kayaks.  The feeling roughly translates thus, “Have I used this boat for the last time?  Is this the last time I perform this task?”  What doesn’t translate neatly in to words is the knowledge that some or other that will be the case.  I will use my kayak or canoe for the last time, and I may not know the experience is my last with that boat until time provides a vantage point for perspective, or events translate me in to the past tense and my next phase of existence.

These unpleasant feelings that I wish to repress seem consistent with an unconscious fear of death, although I seem to be in fairly robust good health at present.  As a young drunkard 26 or 27 years ago, I sought but did not find death.  As a man in middle age I seem to be aware of other feelings pertaining to my mortality.  Although they are clearly as long-lasting as any hardshell paddlecraft, the folding kayak has an ephemeral quality – skin stretched over a frame operated by whatever it is that I consist of – that is similar to that of man and animal.

SRWA Boat Day 2010 Murfreesboro

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Here are some snapshots from Manson Pike Trailhead I took today.  Eric and I got there about an hour early, and he got out on the E68 to familiarize himself with the boat’s handling characteristics.  We both spent the bulk of the day volunteering.  I helped fit people with pfds, Eric helped launch and haul in boats.  After the event ended we took the E68 and 450 S out and paddled around until a thunderstorm got close.  Then we packed up and got out before the lightning and torrential downpour could find us.

Eric-Exits-E68

My friend Eric asks for help as he perfects his E68 concrete roll. I tell him to hang on a sec while I get the camera.

Boats

Somebody brings a trailer full of boats

Kayaks

Young people from MTSU rec department (at left) brought some whitewater boats.

Canoes

Canoes

Randle-Branch

Randle Branch

PFDs

I spent most of the day helping fit an unending line of boaters with pfds.

Volunteers

Family of volunteer - Grandfather, son-in-law, grandson

Niki-&-Randle-Branch

Hardworking Parks and Recreation Department employee Niki and Randle Branch sort gear at the end of the day

Paddling-Out

After the event was over, Eric and I paddled the Stones River.

Eric-E68

Eric paddling Campsis Radicans demonstrating he can remain upright while under way.

Other-Paddlers

Other paddlers who said they planned a take out at Thompson Lane. Generally speaking, it's unusual to see other paddlers on the lakes and flatwater rivers of Tennessee.

Rock-Face

Steep rocky shoreline

This-Far

We paddled down to this point and turned around. Even with the new keelstrip on the 450 S, I didn't feel comfortable paddling the 47 year old hull down there. Also, lacking deck rigging and a painter, the old kayak would have been difficult to manage on the way back upstream the gently sloping shallow riffle.

Toward-Take-Out

Paddling back toward Manson Pike trailhead.

Storm

Storm approaches as we take the boats out of the water.

Boat Day 2010

Canoes and Kayaks

Image cadged from SRWA Boat Day 2010 page. Photo looks more like Stewart Creek in Smyrna than Manson Pike Trailhead, but I could be wrong. It sometimes happens.

At Manson Pike Trailhead in Murfreesboro this Saturday 26 June 2010 from 8:00 am until 12:00 anyone who wants to can borrow kayaks, canoes, pfds and paddle an easy, roped-off stretch of the Stones River.  Various organizations will be present with booths.  According to what I’ve seen at Stones River Watershed Association, Dick’s Sporting Goods will give away by drawing a kayak and a paddle.

Float the Duck River

2005, we floated the Duck from Cortner Mill to Dement Bridge, an easy, fun excursion with my wife and some friends

Summer 2005, between Cortner Mill & Dement Bridge

This Saturday, 7 June, the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association is sponsoring an 8-mile float down part of Tennessee’s Duck River. The Duck is the longest river contained entirely within the borders of the State of Tennessee. I’ve paddled it in Bedford County both below and above Normandy Dam, but have never put in near Henry Horton State Park. Yeah, me too. Every time I hear that name, I think, “Dr. Seuss?” or, “Hoo?”

June 7th, 2008 – 35TH ANNUAL DUCK RIVER MEMBER-GUEST FLOAT

This is a pleasant float for paddlers of all ability levels, and is an excellent opportunity for beginners to gain experience on a river prior to canoe school. This member-guest float is designed to promote canoeing, TSRA, and the Duck River.

The float is approximately 8 miles from the put-in near Verona Road off Highway 99 to the take-out at Highway 431, where a beautiful Class I rapid can be run repeatedly. Bring lunch in a water-proof container. Life jackets are required and a limit of two persons per canoe, with the exception of small children.

Canoes, paddles, and life jackets can be reserved by calling the Rangers at Henry Horton State Park at (931)364-7724. Camping and rooms are available at Henry Horton State Park on Highway 31-A approximately 50 miles South of Nashville.

Meet at the restaurant parking lot at Henry Horton State Park at 10:00 a.m. Central Time. From Interstate 65 South of Nashville take Highway 412 (99) East to Highway 31-A and turn right.

Pre-registration is not required. Please come!

Contact information can be found at http://www.paddletsra.org/trips_event.html