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By Lauren Burress

This Isn’t the Piney Is It Dad?

Hey EJ just thought I’d update you on my latest adventure. It might have been the toughest yet.

As you know it hasn’t rained much here in Tennessee so we were super excited when it rained all night. The next morning we checked the American Whitewater gauge and we were happy to see that the Piney was running, the Piney is only a few miles from my dad’s work so he took the day off. We packed our gear and headed for the river. We had our directions and were on our way when we saw some kayaker’s cars at another river. We still followed our directions to the put in for the Piney. It had no paddler’s cars so we questioned whether we were at the Piney or not. We turned around and headed for the other creek we saw with the cars. This looked like the piney, and so we put in and headed down. It immediately went into a class III rapid. For the next 3-4 miles it was fun Class 3-4 water.

So were paddling down when we heard a huge rapid we had been scouting everything that was blind anyways so we got out on the river left side and looked there was a huge sieve in the middle of the rapid it was definitely not run able. We looked for a good spot on down the river to put in afterwards and to do that we would have to put in on the river right side so we figured out a way to get the other side, and started paddling again. We ended up having to walk a lot of rapids because of sieves, or other big dangers. Eventually it started getting dark because we had to portage so much. And then we were getting tired from walking too much. So we stashed our boats, and started the treacherous walk. We would been able to start a fire and paddle out the next morning if we had our safety packs but they had gotten wet like 2 months ago and we hadn’t remade them yet. That was a big mistake!

So we were hiking out in pitch black, only having our paddles to feel around with. It was pretty cold that night too. The disappointing thing was that we had dried pineapples and some Gatorade in a dry bag in my boat. Like 2 miles from where we stashed our boats. Dad says hey Lauren give me some of that Gatorade, and I said um…. Dad the Gatorade is back at the boat. Dad says well forget it we have to find our way out of here and don’t have the time to go back.

So we were walking and walking until Dad says hey Lauren we took a wrong turn somewhere the water is flowing the other way now. We were staying close to the river so the moon would reflect off the water and give us some kind of light. So we back tracked not very far and had to cross a tributary. It was pretty wide for a tributary but not that deep. So we were getting really tired and our legs wouldn’t work any longer. We had to take a break. It was really cold so we got in a crevice of a rock and covered up with dry leaves to insulate our bodies. We had to get up like every 20 minutes because we were shivering too much we would walk some more until we got tired again.

By this time it was really late and Mom and Uncle Tallie were searching for us and called Search and Rescue. Search and Rescue hiked in the middle of the night until it was too treacherous for them. We were still hiking; we lay down for a little bit and saw some yellow lights from a train or cars in the mountain that got us really motivated. We bedded down in a place where we kept kind of warm; well warm enough to sleep a bit.

It was morning and by now Mom had called a lot of our kayaking buddies and they were going to paddle down to look for us. Search and rescue stopped them because a helicopter was coming in that had a special tool where it detected body heat and they would be able to pin point our location. But it was now morning and we found a trail hoping it lead to a forest station or some type of civilization. It eventually leads to an old logging road that looked like it was going on forever. After about an hour and a half on the logging road we saw some hunters a man and his son up in a fort. We said do you have any spare water and they threw some down for us. They said what are you doing out here we told them the short version they said would you like a pop tart or peanut butter crackers and we said both. They said they would take us home or to the nearest restaurant we said we live in Cleveland and we were in Spring City at the time (Where my dad works) but could you take us to Bimbos (A local restaurant) They said sure.

We used their cell phone to call my Mom and said were OK just meet us a Bimbos. The hunters asked if they could get a picture of us for our scrap book. We said yeah it’s the least we can do. So we went in and ordered some food when Mom showed up. Mom was really happy to see us. And the people just kept pouring in, some of our kayaking buddies. And thanks to Kristine Jackson and every one that came to help and called to see if we were OK. We want to give a special thanks to the search and rescue team for all the efforts and help. You will be glad to know that we made new kits and will always be prepared. I hope that everyone has a safety kit in their boat it would have been really helpful to me.

A list of Essentials to Winter Paddling: (This is what is in my safety kit).
LED Light
Waterproof matches or lighter
Aqua tablets
Warm Hands and Feet
Emergency Blanket
Clif Bar or any energy bar of your choice
Nalgene Bottle (which all of this can fit into)
Light Stick
Warm hat and gloves in my dry bag
Cell Phone

I’m sure there is plenty more but this is my starter kit and I will be adding to it.

Lauren Burress