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.

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) – 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.