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While I know full well that many don’t cotton to the school of thought that, despite all our best efforts to influence and/or control situations and events, things in life always have a way of working out, I myself am a FIRM believer.  Call me “Pollyanna” if you like, but that’s just the way it is in my little world.

Check it out: it's the Tennessee Wall!

Driving to the put-in yesterday, my thoughts were all in a jumble; so much had transpired over the course of the past year, both personally and professionally.  I knew that a day on the water would bring more clarity and joy to the already known celebrations, while helping to shed light on the many incredible, yet unknown, facets of those diamonds in the rough.

With blue bird skies and glass water waiting, my slugs pace in the parking lot certainly did not match the high current in the channel.   My head and heart were not quite where they should have been, and I almost turned back home several times before finally getting the Journey off the car and down to the bank.  Enter one of the fishermen in the parking lot…


Him: “Excuse me, ma’am?”

Me: (shooting a furtive glance over to where I’d set my Journey, hoping beyond hope I was with-it enough to have placed it out of the way so folks with trailers could pull in and out of the ramp – whew… disaster averted!!) “I’m so sorry.  If you’ll give me just about 5 minutes, I’ll be out of your way!”

I start to get my tail in gear…

Him: “No, you’re fine.  I just wanted to ask you if you liked the Journey” (gesturing over to my boat.)

Me: “Oh!  Well, actually, yes I do!”


And with that, I was suddenly back where I needed to be: back in RiverMode.  Sharing with this complete stranger the things I love about the Journey, and why I am a firm believer in this boat for all types of boaters – from beginners to pros, whitewater aficionados to flatwater dilettantes – brought to the forefront for me all the trips I’d taken in these boats, all the phenomenal sights I’d seen, places I’d had opportunity to visit, and people with whom I’d been able to share these wonders.  Missed opportunities and mistakes made?  Sure, they were still there, but somehow they didn’t seem as prevalent.  Thanks, Colton, for unknowingly bringing me back to planet Earth, and back to the Tennessee River.


In the water…  <BIG sigh…>  Hatches secured; skirt fitted; wing paddle in hand to test out (trusty Ikelos on board just in case!); GPS on; watch set; bow pointed upriver; GO!  With no predetermined time frame in mind, and a completely free calendar for the remainder of the day, I was good to go for a long day on the water.  YAY!

Settling into a rhythm, I began to tune in to the River itself.  No matter how many times I’m on this River, there is always something new to discover.  Surprise draws, overflow from riverside ponds where the chorus of spring peepers play; the call of the hawks at roost and on the wing; evidence of beaver working furtively to ready their dens for the coming months; Great Blue herons regally keeping watch over the River; evidence of high water, and of erosion…  All of these things work symbiotically to create a living work of art that is more vibrant and magnificent than anything we humans can contrive.  The best part is this is literally in my back yard!!!!!  My heart goes out to those who don’t have opportunity to live in such a beautiful place!


Padding past familiar landmarks, I mentally note the differences that seasons make in the landscape.  As I draw deeper into the Tennessee River Gorge proper, I reminisce back to what seems a zillion years ago.  Watching the double band of the Tennessee Wall gradually become clearer, my eye begins to automatically pick out routes I once knew intimately.

I again feel the rock under my fingertips and on the backs of my hands; I smell the familiar scents of climbing, and feel the weight of my pack on my back.  My mind begins to call out route names, as I, in my thoughts, walk the cliff line looking up at the routes.  My mental pack opens at the base of a perennial favorite, and I rack up, tie in, and begin placing gear:  deck piece .75 BD, the green guy.  Pull the move with a funky back step, stand up, make another couple easy moves, slide in a #8 stopper, slinging it long.  Next up, sling the tree, then into the dihedral.  A couple more stoppers, perhaps a cam or two, then to the anchor.  Ahhh…  Ironic how something so integral in my life for over a decade gives way, bringing opportunity to REdiscover a whole world that I once took for granted.

Best of both worlds: on the water with T-Wall in sight!


Turning back downriver, I look at my watch and realize I’ve been on the water for several hours.  Due to the high current, my journey back to the car takes significantly less time than my upriver paddle, and I soon find tired self back at Sullivan’s Landing.

Boat loaded, gear stored, and a chocolate treat in my belly, I head home to take my goofy dog for a meander along the trails of Lookout Mountain.

happy dog!














Whatever your passion, be it whitewater or flat, wishing you all rejuvenating days on the water!