Saturday, July 08, 2017

Paddling with Kids: North Chick, high water

At this time last year we were in an endless drought that cumulated in wildfires in the fall. This year has been the exact opposite with seemingly endless rain. Soggy days means everything is growing like crazy and lots of bugs (spiders) are trying to make their way inside.

Anyways, since the kids and I had been gone the previous week, Daniel took Monday off so that he would have a long weekend to spend with us. We kicked Monday off with a little kayaking at North Chickamauga (North Chick), putting in at the upstream boat ramp at Greenway Farms as we had previously done (close to the dog park).

The last time we paddled here I was actually a week away from delivering Isaac. We knew it was a relatively flat, easy paddle and it would be a good chance for Jack to practice in his new kayak.

I didn't really take into consideration that it had been raining cats and dogs all summer. While we had perfect weather on Monday, the creek was higher than usual and flowing pretty steadily. Since our last paddle here had been easy, I suggested that we head downstream instead of up.

This is against Daniel's cardinal rule of paddling: do the hard work first. Meaning paddle against the current and then float back.

I wanted to explore a different section of the creek, so I blew him off and said we would be fine.

Famous last words...

A couple of things I didn't really take into consideration: 1) the excessive rain we have had this summer; 2) we were towing Jack (he had a paddle but chose to use it sparingly); and 3) Isaac was insisting on sitting with Daniel which impaired his ability to paddle.

After we had floated for about an hour Daniel suggested we attempt to turn back and I finally agreed (he might have told me, repeatedly, that for every minute I paddled downstream we would have to paddle 10 minutes back upstream)....

Actually I think I agreed to turn around and paddle to a stump to show the boys a couple of ducks and turtles and if it proved easy we would keep going and if it wasn't easy, we would start the laborious work to get back upstream.

So we paddled to the stump and it was next to impossible. We were basically paddling and keeping still in the creek. Daniel was nice and didn't say, "I told you so." At least not in that moment.

I knew the creek stayed next to Greenway Farms the entire time before ending at Chickamauga Lake, so I suggested that we keep floating downstream and find a place to get out and then figure out a way to get our kayaks to the car.

Daniel tied us off on the bank and got out his phone to look at satellite imagery. Based on where we were, it looked like there were two bends in the creek and then a place where we could hopefully pull out that was next to the Greenway Farms garden.

I also knew the garden wasn't too far from where we parked, so we agreed to keep floating downstream. Luckily for us (we didn't realize this ahead of time!), there was a second boat ramp at the second bend in the creek that we were shooting for. The boat ramp had a gravel road access and we were able to get out and Daniel ran across the park to get our car (technically you're supposed to park behind the barn and portage your boat out, but everyone was driving down the day we were there).

I'm glad it all worked out. I was relatively sure the outcome would be fine, but I was anticipating having to carry our kayaks part of the way through Greenway Farms. As a family unit, we seem to work best with me coming up with (some of) our adventures and Daniel fleshing out the details and having a back-up plan in place. I tend to be more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants when it comes to planning, and hope for the best. Things generally do work themselves out, it's just a harder route when you have kids.

Notes from this trip:
  • Total miles between the two boat launches at Greenway Farms: 2 miles
  • (Daniels says) If the water is up you don't have a motor, paddle upstream FIRST.
  • Have a back-up plan, ALWAYS.
  • Keep a cell phone (or map or GPS) with you in case you get into trouble and need to change plans.
  • Stay calm so that your kids stay calm.

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