Recently our chapter of Team River Runner participated in some different events; and the newest (regular) Vets in attendance had the opportunity to run some new rivers. Saying they enjoyed it is a major understatement. I was able to participate in the Tame the Tyger River Race & Festival on April 24th. (Unfortunately, I had GoPro mount issues and don’t have any video or pictures from the day). I did manage to find some images online from a photojournalist, however. It rained before the event, and soon after we got off the water, but the weather was perfect for the paddle downstream. The level was pretty good, we had some decent flow to cover a lot of the shallow rocks but it wasn’t near flood stage.
The increased water flow and weather kept a lot of the recreational floaters from the event. In the past, participation was around 200 paddlers for the day. If there were 50 this time, I would have been shocked. Warren Wilson College of course had a strong showing for the actual race. Crowd or not, our group of 6 (5 Veterans and 1 dependent) were excited about our day.
Driving down to and back up the hill to where boats were staged and registration setup was an adventure in itself! I was driving the Chapter’s van-a 15 passenger green land yacht that is definitely not built for the off-road! I had a blast rednecking it in the mud, and boy did that thing sling some mud. There were several vehicles that got stuck, it kept the Spartanburg County Park Rangers busy winching vehicles out of the mud. You know it’s going to be a good day when you get to nail the gas pedal to the floor and yell “yeehaw” as mud flies behind you! The day did not disappoint!
Having the river essentially to ourselves was pretty nice. We played and worked our way down river, and man we worked it hard! We were the last group off the river, and not just because yours truly tested her drysuit for leaks on the last rapid! This was only my second river trip of the year, and the rust and tight muscles reminded me of it frequently. It was exhilarating, as always, to be on the water!
Kevin had been up since 2 a.m., unable to sleep because of his excitement about running a new river. His smiles, laughs, and enthusiasm the entire day were a treasure! I wish I could have found a picture of him on the rapids, I am sure his smile would have been billboard big!
The river course is drop and pool, about 7-miles of Class I-II+ rapids. The increased flow actually washed out some of the smaller features and made the flat water seem more plentiful and long. It also afforded the chance to run some lines that are normally to dry to run. The rapids are long shoal-type, and can be surprisingly technical (for an event that will rent a kayak to anyone to just paddle down!). It’s always fun to paddle a river that is not so familiar as to be a bit of a challenge. Boat scouting, trying to recall which line is clearest…keeps you on your toes.
The day ended at the private campground where BBQ and the fixin’s were being served. We had a whole 15 minutes before they stopped serving food! It was the most delicious food ever! But after nearly 5 hours on the river, shoe leather would taste pretty dang good.haha I’m looking forward to the next adventure, but hopefully won’t have to eat any shoe leather.