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Playing for stress management amongst the COVID pandemic

Mr. Lew’s summary of escapades during the COVID pandemic in search of stress relief.. Enjoy.

Trip Reports for Mar 17-25

2020-03-17– Solo mission. Drove to the Smokies for whitewater kayaking since the water was probably up after looking at rain data. Tremont was too low. Drove to the Sinks on the Little River. Walked ¼ mile up from Sinks and kayaked the Meanies rapids through the Sinks. Took 2 laps. Walked shuttle. Received a text message that the West Prong was at a runnable level.  I’ve wanted the West Prong for 15 years. Very famous as in roughly 6 miles it drops 2000’ vertical feet with no mandatory portages. I’ve never run it. Decided to run the lower half (putting on at the Chimney Picnic Area). Level on the bridge pylon was 1.4’. Perfect first time level. Absolutely incredible run!! Photo below is from a friend running one of the rapids last year at a similar flow. I did not take any photos this day. Dropped boat in the woods to head the 3.5 mile back up the road to the truck.

2020-03-21– Solo mission. Had hoped to get another lap on West Prong, but the Smokies didn’t get enough rain. However, the Cumberland Plateau did get rain. So, I drove to the Crooked Fork near Wartburg- the closest whitewater run to Oak Ridge. Gauge painted on the bridge showed a level of 6.9. Medium/high flow. I dropped off my mountain bike in the woods. Kayaked the river. Photos of LeMance Falls, Upper Potter Falls, and Lower Potter Falls (upper half of the drop) shown. Hiked boat 2 miles to where I had left the mountain bike. 4 mile bike ride back to truck. Drove back to retrieve the boating gear. This is one of my usual solo laps, so I’ve ironed out logistics on this previously. 

2020-03-22– Solo mission. Didn’t rain last night but Cumberland Plateau still primed. Drove to Caney Fork. Dropped kayak and boating equipment at the launch for the run at Clifty Rd. Drove the 12 miles on dirt, gravel roads, and high clearance 4×4 to the confluence of Caney Fork and Bee Creek. 12 mile mtb ride back to the kayak. Locked up bicycle to a tree in the woods, changed into kayaking gear, and paddled the Caney Fork. Beaitful 10 mile stretch of mainly class 3 to class 4 with one class 5- rapid (Devil’s Kitchen). Flow was 1.7. Nice medium flow. Beautiful run! This is another one of my usual solo runs, so I have already worked out logistics on previous solo laps. No pictures.

2020-03-23– Smokies got a lot of rain. West Prong Spiked too high to paddle, so waited for the run to drop in flow to a safe level. Paddled with Mike. We met at the take out. Stayed 6’ apart on our shuttle up to the put in. We did not run the top of the run since it was already later in the day, having to wait for the river to reach optimum flow.  Again, paddled the Lower West Prong at perfect flow (1.6 on the gauge). Absolutely one of the best kayak runs I may have ever done. Since I had recently done the run it was fresh in my mind, and I knew where trees to avoid were in the river recently. Always watching for new trees, though we were able to make a very quick lap. In hindsight, we would have had time to do the Upper section. Running back shuttle to retrieve the first vehicle Mike stayed in the back of the pickup truck bed. No pictures taken today.
To cap it off Mike and I then headed to the Sinks to the Elbow on the Little River. Level was about 4’, which is on the high side of good. Again, walked up the Meanies and kayaked those through to the Elbow. 3 miles. This run is so much fun with a lot of water. Was clear of trees. And, after running the West Prong, it is a very low stress, fluffy paddle.

2020-03-25– Solo hike today. To top off the week of delight I had a leisurely 7 mile hike at Frozen Head. Hiked up North Old Mac and down South Old Mac. Beautiful weather! Beautiful place!

2020-03-23– Smokies got a lot of rain. West Prong Spiked too high to paddle, so waited for the run to drop in flow to a safe level. Paddled with Mike. We met at the take out. Stayed 6’ apart on our shuttle up to the put in. We did not run the top of the run since it was already later in the day, having to wait for the river to reach optimum flow.  Again, paddled the Lower West Prong at perfect flow (1.6 on the gauge). Absolutely one of the best kayak runs I may have ever done. Since I had recently done the run it was fresh in my mind, and I knew where trees to avoid were in the river recently. Always watching for new trees, though we were able to make a very quick lap. In hindsight, we would have had time to do the Upper section. Running back shuttle to retrieve the first vehicle Mike stayed in the back of the pickup truck bed. No pictures taken today.
To cap it off Mike and I then headed to the Sinks to the Elbow on the Little River. Level was about 4’, which is on the high side of good. Again, walked up the Meanies and kayaked those through to the Elbow. 3 miles. This run is so much fun with a lot of water. Was clear of trees. And, after running the West Prong, it is a very low stress, fluffy paddle.

2020-03-25– Solo hike today. To top off the week of delight I had a leisurely 7 mile hike at Frozen Head. Hiked up North Old Mac and down South Old Mac. Beautiful weather! Beautiful place!

 
Now, back to work in the ICU. 
 
Cheers!
David Lew

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