Ian took his maiden river voyage Saturday surrounded by friends and cousins. The last weekend of summer found us up early Saturday morning and on the road to the Hiwassee River to sneak in Ian’s first paddling trip before cold weather sets in. Summer in Tennessee doesn’t leave many options for the local paddlers. The lack of adequate rainfall leaves the local creeks too low to scrape over the rocks, so boaters must follow the dam controlled water ways. The most suitable of these rivers winds its way through the Cherokee National Forest and into Reliance, TN. The Hiwassee River contains many friendly class I rapids, and enough class II rapids for many less advanced boaters to endure the long drive for a beautiful day on the water.
We could not have possibly had a better trip Saturday. Tom, a good friend and paddling
buddy who lives near us, brought his little boy and piled in with us for the two and half hour drive to meet up with my cousins from back home. We all met at the river and headed upstream for one of the most enjoyable runs we’ve ever taken down this river. The day dawned clear and bright, with temps approaching the upper 80’s. This is crucial on the Hiwassee as the water typically runs right around 55 degrees. That’s Fahrenheit people! So despite the sunny rays beaming down, I clad Ian and myself (and Mogwai for that matter) in fleece to combat the water’s chill.
Early on, Ian sat fairly politely between myself and Emily through two class I rapids. When asked what he thought, he quietly responded “Gin?” Translation: Again, please. After the first class II, Ian refused to sit in the middle any longet, and jumped up and down while pointing out every white cap to us, screaming: “‘Nother rapid! ‘Nother rapid!” To say the least, he was excited. Mogwai spent his time jumping from funyak to raft and back, and a couple of times even landed on Tom’s spray skirt. Aside from one brief mishap at Devil’s Shoals, Mogwai had a successful trip.
An exciting sport is cause enough for a good time, but good company just makes it that
much better. Brinn and I reveled in spending the entire day outdoors in one of the most gorgeous river basins, while joking and laughing with friends and family. Rafting thrilled Ian’s inner dare devil, but having Travers alongside really made his day. Most six-year-olds I’ve experienced would not tolerate a two-year-old hanger-on with half the patience that Travers exudes. Ian absolutely adores Travers and wants to
copy every move Travers makes. And let me tell ya, Travers can paddle! Brinn had to ask him to stop paddling a few times because this kid could turn the boat by himself!
Ian may not remember his first trip down the Hiwassee, but he will be running it enough times in his future to never doubt that it was the first river he ran. Brinn first ran this river exactly 30 years ago as a four-year-old little boy, so it seemed appropriate that he share this special place with his own little rafter.