River: Caney Fork (Rock Island State Park)
Level: 3550 cfs
Paddlers: Me, Stephen, EJ, Dane, Brad, Jase
I arrived in Tennessee yesterday, and the dam at Rock Island was spilling, so we decided to run the section from the dam down to the boat ramp take-out. This was my first time back in a boat since the knee surgery so I was a bit aprehensive, but I was eager to get back on the water (especially where the water was warmer).
I had some trouble getting down to the water, but I took my time, made sure I was outfitted great and paddled out into the current.
At the top of the run there are three waves in a row. I caught the top wave shortly, then scrambled over to the eddy to have a go at the third wave, which was the best of the three. I got it twice for a short ride before I went on down to the hole. The Rock Island hole is where the third World Cup event was held. I first paddled it around December last year. When the dam releases 3600+, the hole is fun, but can beat you down at the same time. The locals call it a “Welcome to Rock Island Ride” where it seems that the hole knows anytime someone new is surfing it!
I did really well in the hole, especially for my first day back on the water, but my last ride before we continued downstream was a “Welcome BACK to Rock Island Ride”. Great fun to watch, I’m sure!
We paddled on down to Brave Wave, where I got one awesome surf in. I managed to spin, front surf, back surf and roll back up ON the wave before I flushed off. I didn’t stick around because the eddy had a cave and undercut that I wanted to avoid.
We continued on down the river, through a fun wave train and to a small wave at the boat ramp. I surfed it once and decided that it was enough for my first day back on the water. The guys enjoyed it for another 15 minutes or so and then we called it a day.
All-in-all, it was a great first day back on the river! I was afraid that I would have to start over, but it really IS like riding a bike. The only thing I noticed was that 2 months loses your muscle memory big time! Some moves seemed like a lot of work, but that’s what comes with sitting on a couch for 2 months…