31 May, 2016

Weekend on the Ocoee

For the past year or so I had been trying to set up time to paddle the Ocoee River with Evan and my friend, Meryl. The three of us all know each other from working camp together, despite the three of us never actually working together at the same time. Weird. A few weeks ago, after getting off of the Green River I ended up texting Meryl to set up time to finally take her up on her offer to run one of, if not the Nation’s most popular whitewater river.

I ended up driving 5 hours to meet up with her and a few of her friends Saturday to paddle the Middle Ocoee. Despite only getting a few hours of sleep my excitement made the drive seem extremely short. I ended up meeting up with Meryl and couple of her friends around 1:00. As with every river, I was anxious before dropping in. It was a river I had heard about, but hadn’t seen too much of. The entire first day I felt a little reserved as I took my time familiarizing myself with the river and its characteristics. After dropping into Grumpy, the Class III right at the put-in I was hooked. By the end of the day I knew that the trip to Tennessee had been worth it.

The next day Meryl took me to the Upper Ocoee. This time we were joined by even more friends of hers from the Tennessee Valley Canoe Club. It was easily the largest group I have ever paddled with. I knew the Upper had a different reputation than the Middle, thanks to the Whitewater Center that was built for the 1996 Olympics. The first day, I admittedly was still working the last bit of rust off of my technique from 6 months off during winter. By the time we reached Alien Boof I felt back in form. After four laps of Alien Boof I actually felt better than ever.

The rest of the trip was incredible. We ended up running the Middle Ocoee after a quick break and it felt great. I ended up playing in the features more aggressively the second day and felt completely refreshed once the day ended. After this past weekend I think it is safe to say that I have found a new river to be listed among my favorites. It was also extremely nice getting to meet super amazing people who were willing let me accompany them down the river. (It was also great to get to paddle with such talented kayakers.)

I honestly can’t wait to head out that way again. In the meantime, if you aren’t aware take the time to pop over to Save the Ocoee and read about what you can do to help preserve recreation uses of the Ocoee River because the agreement between TVA and Tennessee is almost up and everyone’s support matters.

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