Shortly after arriving in Rock Island Brooke was offered the opportunity for us to go help Dane Jackson do a river clean up on the Nolichucky river. Jackson kayak had a few demo boats that needed driving out there so we said sure, sounds like fun. Friday night we collected the trailer of boats from the factory in EJ’s old Toyota Land Cruiser. He was adamant it would easily be able to tow the trailer over the three hour drive, despite the Land Cruiser easily being my age or older. First stop a hotel stay over in Knoxville, an hour away to meet up with Dane then next morning head to the river.
Well that was the plan at least. The engine started having problems around twenty minutes from Knoxville. We pulled over and hopped out, smoke filled the cab. I opened the bonnet and smoke billowed out, oil was everywhere. Brooke was already calling Kristine to get help. Half an hour later we were being towed into Knoxville. Dane met us at a McDonalds where we hung out and waited for Kristine to show up with another truck that could tow the trailer. Luckily it started to rain after we had gotten inside.
Next morning we rallied up to the Nolichucky river where we found the river pretty much at flood stage. I was pretty surprised as I didn't realise it had rained that hard. As well as very high water, it was not at all warm. The aim of the event (which had been organised by Red Bull) was to get lots of people from the local area out and about and get the river clean. Unfortunately due to the weather and the water levels there were less people than hoped for but we still spent two days collecting ALOT of rubbish out of the river. The first day probably had 10-15 kayakers as well as a bunch of raft guides from local company USA Raft who paddled the ‘trash boats’ down the river. Day two was a little less, maybe 7-11 kayakers, it was much colder. The rubbish boats got FILLED up. I think we took over 50 tyres alone, probably tons of rubbish with much more we weren't able to get.
The coolest part of the weekend was paddling the upper gorge at high flows which was around 15km of fun, bouncy, big volume whitewater. AND I got to paddle both sizes of the new Jackson Kayak Antix. It is a boat that lived up to the hype. The medium was a fun long playboat and the Large (which was my favourite) was a playful creek boat, enough volume to run almost everything confidently but small enough in the tail to be playful.