Earlier this fall, my family and I got to kayak the Ocoee in Tennessee for a little over a week. It was about 10 days, I think. I love the Ocoee. It is such a fun river, definitely my favorite of all the rivers I’ve run.
I ran it every single day that it was running, which is all days except Tuesday and Wednesday. And every day we took two runs so that everyone got to get on the river. My mom and all the older kids took turns watching the younger kids, but no matter what everyone got one run, and mostly everyone got two runs, every day.
Me and Mommy were taking our SideKick and our Zen on the river for the first few days and then we started taking our playboats, the Shooting Star and the Rockstar. In our creek boats, we never flipped. In our playboats we flipped alot because we surfed everything we could. I definitely like paddling my playboat on the Ocoee the best.
The first rapid, Grumpy’s, is a super scary hole. The first day we put in below Grumpy’s because I dropped into Grumpy’s last year and swam and was kind of nervous to run it again, even though my family is super fast to grab me and my gear when I swim. Then, on the second day and every other day, Mommy and me paddled left of Grumpy`s and I didn’t drop in to Grumpy’s or swim at all on this rapid.
The next rapid, Staging Eddy, I followed Daddy down it. I surfed in this hole a lot and it’s fun. There are always a lot of people here surfing and playing around. We always see a ton of people we know so we hang out here for a while, surfing and talking to people. I practice rolls in the eddy here a lot too.
Next is Broken Nose, I took the sneak around Broken Nose every time. The name is scary. The sneak is really easy, you just go left down a bunch of ledges and around a bunch of rocks and really there are lines everywhere.
If you run Broken Nose and don’t take the sneak, watch out for rafts. One Quest raft came down and slammed my brother, Kenny, into a rock. And the guide was really mean. He yelled at Kenny for being there. Kenny slammed his head and his shoulder and had to get out of the river. He was okay but sore the next day!
Next is Double Suck. The Double Suck sneak to the left is my favorite rapid. I ran the boof line to the right of Double Suck a bunch of times too, which was also fun. I love sitting in the big eddy here and watch my brothers and sisters get destroyed in the hole. Half the time I think they are going to swim, but they never do. I met a river ranger here one day. He told me it was his job to keep people safe and acting smart on the river. He said I was one of the youngest people he’d seen on the Ocoee. That’s kinda cool.
Nextis Double Trouble. Double Trouble is my least favorite rapid. I worry about it every time I run the Ocoee. There are a couple holes at the top and then really big waves that are trashy.
Next is Flipper. One day, I tried the boof line with everyone and I flipped. I got caught in flipper and then spit into the eddy line and couldn’t roll up. I tried like 4 or 5 rolls and then I bailed. Kady grabbed me and took me to the side and my Dad and Grady got my gear.
After Flipper, you are about halfway through. After some flat water there is some shallow water and drops called the Doldrums. Cardy got run over by a raft here. He was actually pinned on the bottom of the river for a few seconds. The raft guide was so nice, he pulled Cardy up onto his raft, drained his boat and said he was sorry over and over. The people on his raft were crying, they were so scared. But Cardy was fine and says he has a cool story.
Next is Tablesaw, another really big wave train. I love Tablesaw, it’s fast and fun. My brothers and sisters like to run this rapid a ton of different ways. They go down backwards and boof over holes. I like to just run it straight.
Right after Tablesaw is Diamond Splitter. This is a fun rapid, with big waves and holes. I like to run it like a roller coaster, and put my paddle way up above my head. Somewhere to the left is a surf spot but I’ve never surfed it. I just go straight down Diamond Splitter and go into the eddy on the right.
And then it’s my second most favorite rapid on the whole river, Accelerator. It is the fastest wave train I’ve ever run. It is super duper fast. You really feel like you are flying! It’s so much fun.
Then Cats Pajamas, which you can go left where there is a fun slide or right which is nothing, or through the the middle where Grady and all the older kids go because there is a hole there.
And then Hell Hole. A huge gigantic wave The name makes it sound scarier than it is. I flipped here the first day and lost my paddle, but somehow found it and rolled up! Another day I flipped here and couldn’t roll up. I swam and I heard my daddy yelling swim right. I did, but I went down head first which wasn’t smart! I am so lucky there were no rocks. Another day I flipped on Hell Hole, rolled up, but didn’t make the eddy and ran Powerhouse in my boat. I’ve done Hell Hole every way possible.
Hell Hole is fun and crazy and anything can happen, at least for me. And that is what is scary and fun about kayaking, anything can happen. I love being with my family on the river. They are so fun and they make me forget to be scared because I’m laughing so much.