Sunday, November 20, 2011

Locks, Weather, and Wilma, oh my!

Goal to New Orleans: 1865 miles
Paddled since last blog: 167 miles
Total paddled: 325 miles
To go: 1540 miles
Current location: East of Chattanooga on the Tennessee River
Granola bars consumed since last blog: 22 
Total: 44 
Snicks: 9 bars
Total: 23
Days of paddling: 15 

It's been a week since our last bloggage. We are off the river for Thanksgiving Week with Team Shannon  and Grandma Hruby.  

Turns out, you can lock through in sea kayaks at dams with locks. DAM! That's easier than portaging. During our first lock at Fort Loudon, we called ahead and explained to the lock operator that we had never done this before and he took care of us. He coached us in proper lockage, told some good jokes, and set us up for locking success. We looked good and won through two more locks.... they're all the same. It's tradition that once one passes through a dam, there are big machines doing crazy things such as: a guy hanging onto a helicopter repairing electrical lines, 15 heavy machines dismantling a building by a nuclear powerplant (we're talking transformers here!), and a train elevator bridge with a boom crane-barge underneath it.

Kara in the lock chamber at Watts Bar Dam
We have had a broad spectrum of weather. Some days have been clear, calm, and sunny which are accompanied by cold nights. On these nights, it's a good idea to leave hatch covers off because they become frozen ice bricks that are difficult to remove with ice brick hands in the morning. 
Clear morning
We've had one day of hard rain that taught us our waterproof jackets aren't necessarily waterproof and helped us log our biggest mileage day due to the threat of mild hypothermia. Woo hot chocolate!

Rain on water
Wet Liddell

Thus far, the most significant factor determining our speed has been the wind. We think the maximum wind speed we've experienced is about 20 mph. These speeds force us to choose protected shoreline routes rather than open water crossings to cut corners. When we have a tailwind, we bust out our Fiberglass Shaft  umbrellas to sail. Liddell is a conservative umbrella sailor while Kara goes balls-to-the-wall and sometimes experiences umbrella blowout at great speeds. 
Kara's first umbrella blowout
For our avid blog followers, you'll be thrilled to know we finished reading The French Broad by Wilma Dykeman and are now taking donations (or suggestions) for the next read aloud.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What would Wilma do? (wwwd)

Goal to New Orleans: 1865 miles
Paddled since last blog: 70 miles
Total paddled: 158 miles
To go: 1707 miles
Current location: 15 miles west of Knoxville
Granola bars consumed since last blog: 5
Total: 22
Snicks: 4 bars
Total: 14

Since last we wrote, we have found new guidance. Wilma Dykeman has graced us with 137 pages of French Broad history this far. We are reading her book "The French Broad" aloud. In long meandering sentences, not unlike her river, Wilma regales us with a potpourri of historical recollections such as when Thomas Lee "called himself an 'absquatalated Rebel' and advised his friend to flee when 'the lion roareth and the wangdoodle mourneth," and other tales, geology of the river, and local folklore. It's interesting especially because we have been paddling through the places she is mentioning.

After comporting our first 69 miles of consecutive river, Team Shannon (Jack and Jan) picked us up to shuttle us for whitewater sections of river. Due to low water levels, we are forced to put off the rest of the whitewater until after winter.

On Thursday, November 10, Team Shannon shuttled us to halfway through Lake Douglas in Tennessee. 11-11-11 featured sunny skies and a 4-hour portage around Douglas Dam. We took inspiration from the date (and were slowed by the portage) and paddled only 11 miles for 11-11-11.

The next day, currents helped us paddle 27 miles putting us in striking distance of the Tennessee River.

Today, we left the French Broad (but continue to read about it) at its confluence with the Holston to create the Tennessee River. We paddled through Knoxville and ooed and awed at the Sunsphere. Wind forced us to quit paddling for the day at a late lunch with 19 miles ckmpleted for today.

Here is a jumpshot.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rosman to Asheville

Sunday November 6: Put in at noon with a sendoff from Liz G, Tracy, and Bette. We paddled 16 miles
Monday November 7: Paddled 25 miles. Including three portages; one taking two hours to complete. 
Tuesday November 8: Paddled 29 miles, ending at 3:30 to meet Team Shannon at the takeout. 

Overall highlights include:
White squirrels, red robbins, beavers, blue herons, king fishers, ducks
Umbrella sailing in little wind
Morning fog followed by very warm sunny days

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And it begins!

Welcome.  We'll be posting random musings along our 1865 mile journey from Rosman, North Carolina to New Orleans, Louisiana.  We will paddle 210 miles on the French Broad River and reach Knoxville, Tennessee where the French Broad flows into the Tennessee River.  From there we turn south and head into Alabama and back up through Tennessee to Paducah, Kentucky where the 652 mile Tennessee River flows into the Ohio River.  We'll be on the Ohio for 50 miles until it flows into the Mississippi River in Cairo, Illinois.  Then, we have just 953 miles down the Mississippi alongside Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and through Louisiana to the Gulf of Mexico.  We're paddling sea kayaks and we think the trip will take us about three and a half months.  Feel free to play along at home and follow our blog.

Kara and Liddell (The Broad Adventures Team)