It happened sometime back in April. After the local Muddy Rivers Festival, put on at our local Spring Creek, Brinn and I found ourselves new members of the Boro Kayaking Facebook Group. The Facebook description states: “This is a group of people living in or around Murfreesboro that like to get together and paddle various rivers and creeks in and around the Great State of Tennessee. We range from Rec paddlers all the way up to experienced Whitewater and Expedition paddlers.” We’re kind of located around Murfreesboro…in an hour and half kind of way. It turns out that we had met some of the founding members back at the Muddy Rivers Festival, and didn’t even realize it at the time. Charter member Wes decided to add us to the group, then invited us on the group’s second annual Memorial Day Hiwassee trip. Now we had to make a decision: do we explore the possibility of once again becoming club boaters or do we pretend we never saw the event invite?
I opted immediately to ignore the invitation. In fact, I didn’t even say anything about it to Brinn. He typically spends little time on Facebook, so chances of him seeing the invitation were pretty slim. Except for once he did check his notifications and event invites. And he thought this sounded like a great idea and really thought we should go. And so began the discussion. I’m not sure why I resisted joining this group. I enjoyed paddling with the East Tn Whitewater Club based out of Oak Ridge while I was in High School. And then in college the guys at Jackson Kayak invited several of us local boaters along on training trips in a sort of unofficial group. I think ultimately I worried we would find ourselves linked up with a group of people who took all day to get to the put-in, then made a mess of shuttle. As it was, we could set up a trip with a friend or two, run a small group, and have no scheduling issues. But Brinn pushed back and argued that we needed to meet more folks in the middle TN area who boated, especially if any of those people have kids. And so we committed to joining our first event with Boro Kayaking, which has given Brinn full rights to say “told you so” as many times as he wants.
It turns out that we absolutely love being part of this group! We had the best possible experience with the Memorial Day weekend trip, and have gone on to have several other great adventures with these awesome people, now spanning from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The Labor Day trip grew out of an idea expressed by our awesome friend, Goat (more about him and his bff Brad another time). A couple of months back he hooked me up with a favor, so we headed down to see him and have dinner together one evening. After dinner, he mentioned that he’d like to get in a Hiwassee trip this summer, so we agreed to start planning. Labor Day weekend just turned out to be the most convenient weekend we could both identify in our crazy schedules, and thus planning began. I’m not sure Wes ever actually volunteered to help us plan this shindig, but he’s a fantastic planner, and he didn’t put up much fight when we tasked him with helping.
This ginormous trip included multiple different groups heading off the upper Ocoee, middle Ocoee, and Hiwassee all at different times during the entire weekend. Saturday found the Kiser and Bleasdale families on the Hiwassee for a quick kayak jaunt, while Sunday we switched gears for the Ocoee. Ian’s Aunt Tab Tab graciously took Ian to the grocery store to pick up lunch for all of the upper Ocoee boaters, and brought Ian to watch us raft the Olympic section so that I’d have the opportunity to go down in Brinn’s all-girl raft (except for Kevin–our paddle power). Then Tabitha and I switched out at lunch, and she hopped in the raft to ride the middle Ocoee while Ian and I headed down to the take out to swim.
Here were some of my favorite moments of the weekend:
- I got back in a playboat! It’s been two years since I’ve ran a river in a playboat. Even though the Hiwassee is small potatoes, it was still a mental breakthrough for me to get back in a small squirly boat.
- Tabitha kayaked the Hiwassee! She’s been down upper Spring Creek in a hard boat once, and funyaked the Hiwassee multiple times, but this was her first time to make it down such a long run in a hardboat.
- Several other friends had some personal first descents over the weekend, particularly Wayne who cleaned up the upper Ocoee, and was cheered on by none other than Eric Jackson!
- Wayne’s wife Racheael rode down in the raft with us, so she was able to watch Wayne kayak. And she did great going through some scary holes and over scary drops.
- Arch has a killer brace. It took Kelsie and I both to finally flip him over.
- We got to hang again with Wes and Rachel, who make up one of my favorite couples on the planet.
- We got to finally spend some river time with Goat, something that has sorely been missing in our lives.
- Alanna even made it down for our bbq nacho dinner, bringing my old river community and my new river community together (Alanna: Brinn did not share the apple pie –he brought the entire thing home for himself), and we made a run to Outland like old times.
- Josh managed to stop by and also catch up on old times and new.
- Ian spent most of his weekend jumping in the raft and sliding down his zipline. Grownups joined him.
- Brinn does not joke around about the T grip.
- Rachel excels at police duty; put her in charge of aluminum can disposal at the campground and not one can will make it to the trash.
- Brinn can scare himself on the river...by hitting too much air rather than too many rocks.
- Tabitha made me mad. I can’t remember why. But I felt the need to knock her down over it. Maybe she touched my ear?
Observations from our experiences with Boro Kayaking:
- Summer has flown by too fast! All of these river trips have been a blast, but somehow we’ve gone straight from Memorial Day to Labor Day in a matter of minutes.
- Kayaking (and camping) are so much more fun with a like minded group of people. Big rapids aren’t nearly as scary when you have a like minded group of friends riding through them with you and cheering with you at the end.
- These people bring too much food! This is the second holiday trip for which everyone has contributed items for a big dinner. This is the second trip with more food than the group was able to consume!
- If summer was this much fun, I can’t wait to see what autumn paddling has in store for Boro Kayaking!