Heading back toward Rock Island, TN, in driving rain was a mixture of both ominous worry (because of the previously mentioned leaking truck topper) and excitement. We were heading back because I had return a boat I had borrowed from Stephen Wright and also (mainly) because the waterfalls at Rock island were flowing and they looked like a fun way to spend the last days in the South East before #TruckLifeTour would be taking a short break. I had to go visit my parents who were in California for a week and Brooke had to go to Ohio for her grandma’s 95th birthday. This gave us just two more kayaking days before having to pack it in for a week.
Rain fell in Rock island all night accompanied by an EPIC lightning storm. Luckily we were inside Nick and Emily’s house again so were not enduring a miserable wet night with Brooke’s leaky truck topper. Thanks Nick and Emily!!! Next morning brought sunny skies and the excitement that every kayaker sees when they look outside to see both blue skies and a flooded garden (yard) in the same frame.
I had a frantic back and forth text discussion with Stephen who told us that the RI falls were now way too high but there were lots of other options. First on the list would be to check out Cane creek falls. A South East special 60fter, if that wasn't good we had a few other paddling options for river runs.
We loaded up Brooke’s truck and also Clay’s and headed to the water fall. Although there was probably enough water for a right line, I wasn’t feeling the love for it, I wasn’t sure on the landing which seemed like it was awfully close to a wall. Although I am told Dane has run it much lower and the falls regularly gets run at this flows. I wasn’t feeling it and neither was Stephen, Clay or Brooke. So as quickly as we could we rallied over to Caney Fork.
We drove down the steep takeout dirt road for a ways, as it got progressively steeper and more muddy. After a while Clay stopped his truck at a pull out and came over to speak to us.
Clay: “The road gets quite a bit worse here, but we have the vehicles for it so it shouldn't be a problem”
Me: “Oh this truck doesn’t have four wheel drive”
Clay: “Oh it doesn’t”
Clay: “Do you like hiking?, Its uphill from the takeout, but it’s not too bad”
So we got changed, loaded up Clay’s truck and set off for the put in. We were then treated to two hours of fantastic South East style class 4, with a couple of bigger rapids. Fun slides, slots and little boofs everywhere. This river, I am told is different to almost all the other runs in the South East in the sense that is is fairly remote (in relative terms). If you try and hike out it could be days before you find a house or a road and will certainly be unpleasant. Luckily hiking out wasn’t on the program for us. Stephen and Clay knew the run well, as well as many of the funnest moves. The level was high medium and there were plenty of trees in the river luckily no new wood or serious problems for us to contend with.
The river concluded with a not too bad uphill walk lasting around 25 minutes. I was disheartened to watch ‘Old man of the river’ Clay Wright motor pass me and beat me back to the truck. Clay and I paddled the new Jackson Kayak Creek boat, which is in the pre-production phase after many prototypes. I am not supposed to say too much about it yet, but it is next level wowwww!!!
The next day would be our last paddling day on the South East leg of #TruckLifeTour, the levels had come down a bit but not enough to paddle the Rock Island waterfalls. Clay, Stephen and I suited up for some big water play at Rock Island. I could not believe how much the bottom hole changed at high water. When we had paddled there previously this feature was a kind of fun, kind of trashy hole. It now formed a fun, fast, big wave. With sunny skies to boot this was a fun day of paddling. Brooke had to take a rest day as she had a wicked migraine. She missed a really fun paddle, but I tried not to rub it in as we drove north.
That afternoon we drove onto Ohio. I flew out of Cincinnati the following morning and Brooke went on to her Aunt’s house, somewhere else in Ohio, not sure where.
Next week after a quick break #TruckLifeTour is going to Ottawa and beyond for high water, big wave action. It is going to be a blast. Don’t forget to stay on instagram for daily updates @seth_ashworth
See you next time.
Get set for your next adventure: