January 10, 2022

Fun Stuff 2022

Jan 1 2022  Feast on the Beach.  BCC Feast on the Beach to celebrate the New Year.  Mulberry fork, Garden City to the Beach, level 2.5.  Air temp 79, water temps warm.   Despite rain predictions, it was a sunny warm day with puffy clouds.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  Photos here:

Feasting on the Beach

Jan 8 2022  Mulberry.   With the BCC.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.   Water temps cold, air temps 60ish. Level 2 ft.  

Jan 9 2022  Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  With Jason L, Peggy R., Joel and Janice, Russell B.  Level 1.8.  Water temps cold, air temps in the 50's.  Foggy day, some rain.  

Sunday Jan 9 crew

December 31, 2021

Fun Stuff 2021

Jan 1 2021  Feast on the Beach.   Mulberry Fork, 1.75 ft, we had to get that level from the bridge gauges because the Streambeam gauge was destroyed on Christmas Eve.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  Air temps 72 and sunny!  Videos here: 

Lunchstop Wave, 1-1-21

Posted by Judy Ranelli on Friday, January 1, 2021

Jan 2 Mulberry.  Level maintained at 1.5, in the Jackson Antix 2.0. Air temps around 65F, sunny, wonderful. 

Lunchstop wave, Mulberry Fork.  Photo by Mike C. #jacksonkayak #antix2 #clubboaterparadise

Jan 3 Ridgewalk.  Air temps low 50's, cloudy at times and sunny at times.  In the Hytop quad.  We didn't find anything new but it was a good, stout hike.  With Dave and Shay H.  

Jan 9 Mulberry.  Level 1.2 ft.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  Air temps around 40F, cloudy.  With the usual crew.  We had a great time.  Fire on the beach with conecuh sausage, hot dogs, hot chocolate.
Jan 10 Mulberry.  Level 1 ft.  In The Jackson Antix 2.0.  Air temps around 50F, sunny.  We went back for more, and had a sweet surfing day.  Fire on the beach after is a great tradition.

Me yelling "I Love This Boat!"  photo by Halie Orr #jacksonkayak #antix2 #clubboaterparadise

Jan 17 Locust Fork.  Level 2.13 ft.  In The Jackson Antix 2.0.  Air temps around 50F, sunny.  With Tammy and Ed.  Took out at Swann bridge.

Jan 18 Locust Fork.  Level 2.10 ft.  In The Jackson Antix 2.0.  Air temps around 50F, sunny.  With Mike C.  Took out at Swann bridge. 

Jan 23 Ridgewalk.  With Dave H.  Weather temps mild, beautiful day. Hytop quad again. 

Jan 30 Tellico.  Level 1.9.  Air temps 35F.  In the Liquid Logic Stomper 80.  Middle section, took out at Pylon parking.  Gorgeous day.  Made me fall in love with creeking again.

Jan 31 Mulberry. Level 1.5 ft. Air temps 61F.  In the Liquid Logic Stomper 80.  With Janice and Joel, Peggy, Jes and Halie.  Fire on the beach afterwards.  I love local water!

Feb 6 Ski Sugar Mtn.  Air temps upper 30's, decent conditions, blue skies.  With Joan S. and Patti C.

Feb 13 Mulberry.  In the LL Stomper 80.  River level 1.8 on the bridge, though we thought it was higher thru the rapids downstream. Maybe the Duck was releasing?  Air temps mid 30's,  cloudy but not windy.   With Joel and Janice, Peggie, Halie, and Jes. New to the group, old school boater Jason.  I found a boof river left at Lunchstop. 

Feb 14 Mulberry.  In the LL Stomper 80.  River level 1.5 on the bridge.  Air temps mid 30's, cloudy, a bit more windy than the day before.  With Fergus T. and Michael C.  The guys decided to try the boof I found the day before, over and over, with video. 
I however stayed in my boat. It was cold!

Feb 20 Ridgewalk.  With Dave H.  We went to an area that had no known caves on the survey.  What could have been a hell hike was instead a pleasant walk by ridgewalk standards, when I pointed out a road we could take on the WMA to the plateau above our destination.  We found the gate open and our vehicle didn't break any of the restrictions, so off we went.   We were rewarded with a sunny, warm day, beautiful karst fields and a deep gorge.  Yet no entrances, not even IKFs.  On our way back to the car, I did find one lead.  Video of that is here below.  It is at 1440 elevation, so we will return to check it.  We both agreed that despite our lack of finds, the place we visited was breathtakingly beautiful and worth a return just for that reason.


Feb 21 Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  Level 2 ft.   The Joel and Janice crew went down the upper first, but I knew with pool practice in Cullman I'd be getting home at 9 pm, so I decided to meet Joan S., Carin B., Rebecca R, and Heather S. at the regular putin at noon.  The upper crew caught up with us at Training Wheels and we had a great day.  Fire on the beach, then I headed to roll practice.  

Feb 27-28  Mulberry probably.  I didn't blog for awhile so I don't remember lol. 

March 6-7 HOG weekend.  With members of the HCC.  We paddled the Locust that Saturday, I believe the level was 3.8 ft. or so.  I took out at Swann.  We camped that night at King's Bend and ate whole hog bbq.   The next day my crew departed instead of paddling two days in a row. 

March 13-14.  Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0, level 1.5 ft.  Warm weather, cool water.  I was able to wear my Kokatat Session semi-dry top and shorts. This would normally have been ALF weekend but not only was the pandemic still a concern, the promised rainfall didn't happen and things were not running.  

March 20-21 Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0, level Saturday was 3.5 ft., on Sunday was 2.5 ft.  There had been a storm during the week and it brought back colder temperatures.  Back in the drysuits.  I think the high Saturday was in the upper 50's and on Sunday, low 60's.  Saturday I ran the upper and lower Mulberry with Joel and Janice crew, and Sunday I ran the lower with Helen and Andy and others. 

March 27 Morel Hunt.  With the Alabama Mushroom Society, at an undisclosed location.  I found 3.  One young lady found 18!  

April 1 Talladega Creek.  Demo of the medium Pyranha Machno.  Level 1.5.  At this level, only three rapids of note: Rob Roy, Waterfall (has a small waterfall river left at the top of the rapid) and Trestle.  With David P., David A.  Beautiful spring day.  Drysuits due to a cold snap.  

April 3 Upper and Lower Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  Level 2.5 on the bridge gauges.  With Joel and Janice, Peggy, Jason L.  Great surfing at House Wave.  Drysuits due to a cold snap, but water temps were mild. 

April 10 Lower Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  Level 1.75.  

April 11 Paint Rock River.  In the Dagger Antix 10.5.   Level approx. 900 on the online gauge.  With members of the Birmingham Grotto, and Angie A. 

April 18 Locust.  In the Pyranha Machno M.  Level 2.5?  Low.  Nice day.  Still hate the take-out.

April 24-25 Nantahala Open.  In the Pyranha Machno M.  Bad weather Saturday, I did not paddle, but spectated at the falls.  Sunday I ran Patton's to Surfers and headed home.  Nice stay at Smoky Mtn. Meadows campground. 

Me in my new Pyranha Machno, near Quarry Rapid on the Nantahala.  Photo by Halie Orr.

May 1 Mulberry.  In the Jackson Mixmaster 7.5.  Level 8 inches?  Low.  Fun playboating day.

Playboat day!

May 2 Terrapin Creek.  In a rented Jackson Riviera.  Level 200 I think.  We went via rentals and shuttle from Terrapin Outdoor Center.  Great float. 

May 8 B'ham Canoe Club Beach Bash.  First ever club gathering in May at the BCC beach property on the Mulberry Fork.   River level 1.5.  I didn't paddle.  

May 9 Mulberry.  In the Jackson Mixmaster 7.5.  Level 11" or so.  Great day.  Got a combat roll at Glen Clark Memorial.

May 15 Mulberry.  In the Jackson Mixmaster 7.5.  Level 1.5 ish.  Great warm day. 
May 16 Mulberry.  
In the Jackson Mixmaster 7.5.  Level around a foot.  Another magical, fantastic day.  Soon local water will be gone, this may be the last of it for the season.  So many surfs, Training Wheel and Lunchstop.   So grateful.  So full of joy. 

May 22 Cahaba.   Grants Mill to Cahaba River Park.   Level 95 cfs.  With Carl P., Shep and Kerry, others.   Was a nice 4 hour float, about minimum level.  But I forgot my sun hat, and even with sunblock, the sun wore me out.  

May 29 Hello to the Hiwassee.   First official release for the season.   In the Jackson Mixmaster 7.5.  With Carin, Fergus, Mike C., Justin S., others.   Chilly cloudy day but happy to be back at the mother of all us SE paddlers.  I wore my splash top and shorts, could have been a drysuit day.   Justin and I paddled from Three Chutes to the take-out by ourselves and he took two cool photos of me: 

Me going down Devil's Shoals on the Hiwassee, 05-29-21, photos by Justin Savoy

May 30 Hiwassee.    With Joy, Janice and Joel, Peggy, Kenny, Lori, Dennis C., Vander, Jason and Kathleen.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.   Warmer temps but cold wind.  Nice float. 

We stayed at Gee Creek Campground, this is my first stay there and it is very nice.  Nights were chilly and I was glad I didn't bring my summer sleeping bag.  We went to the Winery on 411 nearby and bought a delicious blackberry sweet wine.  It's 18% so it's for sipping as a dessert wine.

Friends in the rolling creek above Devil's Shoals, 05-30-21, photo by Jason Lawrence

May 31  First anniversary of my sister Kathy's death.   I didn't paddle, wasn't in the mood. But I hung out at the campground with Kenny, Lori, Peggy, and Tracy L. from HCC.  He had driven his motorcycle there so I got to check it out.  It's a very nice Indian highway cruiser.   I played with my bird song ID app from Cornell labs, and got a lot of different calls going back to the same bird:  American Robin.  

June 6th Hiwassee.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  I taught a beginner whitewater class for the TVCC Paddle School.  I had two students and three support boaters.  One of the students and the three support boaters were all middle-aged men, and I am terrible with names and faces so I kept calling them each other's names.  They were patient and kind.  One named Larry camped next to my group and let me call him Frank all Saturday night.  

June 7 Hiwassee.   In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  My students didn't want to paddle a second day so Larry and I followed along with a class led by Carin Hayward and Rebecca, friends of mine from B'ham.  The weather forecast was awful and we expected to be in the rain the entire time; instead it was a nice day with only one shower at Lunchstop.  The mountain weather is so unpredictable.  We weren't complaining.  

June 12 Hiwassee.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  With Joel and Janice, Peggy, Lori and Kenny.  They rented rooms at the Webb Bros. house.  I had dinner with them from Reliance BBQ, sadly that establishment's last day open, and then I headed to River Rats for the Chota paddle school auction and party.   It was really fun.  I saw Roscoe P. Wavetrain and Teledave.  One of my favorite things about the event was a golden retriever.  It had gotten sprayed by a skunk and rained on so it had a double whammy of wet dog and skunk smell goodness.  Roscoe warned me not to touch it when it came up, then we watched as the dog approached various people, wagging its tail happily, and they pet it, then caught the skunk scent, then realized it was on their hands.

A man named Bruce was there.  Bruce went to the quick mart to buy beer and a man came up to him and said, "Indian Dave!" and shook his hand, then hugged him and said, "I thought you got whacked in Florida" and walked off.  So Bruce will forever be "Indian Dave" to that crew.
Skunked dog

Of course a big bottle of whisky was in the auction, and the buyer passed it around the group until it was gone. I did not have any of this stuff but Roscoe did.

Roscoe P. Wavetrain 

It started raining and we all went under the pavilion including the skunked dog.

June 26 Ocoee.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  With Tim and Christine, Steve I. and Spence, all in canoes, and Jay in a kayak.   I had a really, really, really.  Unpleasant swim.  I was trying to do my variant of the Broken Nose sneak, during which I usually go through the first chute, turn in the eddy, and ferry across left.  I leaked backwards out of that eddy and through a slot, got flipped at the bottom, did a wonderful roll, thought hell yes I got this, then went down backwards again into a hole that windowshaded me.  I pulled out, boat went downstream, I stood up in an eddy and thought, a raft will snag me up, but the rafts were all busy getting pinned on rocks in Broken Nose.  We wondered later if there were rookie guides involved.  Finally I had to suck it up and swim.  I had my paddle, went through multiple holes, cussed my life choices, pondered taking up knitting instead, saw Tim who was on river left with a rope, yelled ROPE at him, he threw, and it landed about 1 foot short.  Christine then yelled swim right swim right which I did, and got out on rocks so I didn't have to swim Slice n' Dice.   I decided to stay there and goof off while the others went down.  About 15 minutes later, thought, well I should have gone on, but I didn't.  Later my crew expressed surprise I didn't go on. But whatever.

June 27 Ocoeelite.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  With Mary Mills, Stacy S., Andy and Lynn.  I did Slice n' Dice to GoForth.  Much better day.  I had to do some mental prep to get back on the horse, glad I did. 

July 3 Locust Fork.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  With Joel and Janice, and their friend Wes on a Torrent.  Level 2.2.  So nice to have 80 degree weather and the Locust in July!


What a great week of rivers with the Carolina Canoe Club!  It never got to the point of huddling down in a stormy campground, and we had campfires every evening.  

July 6 Nantahala.  Ferebee thru the falls, in the Jackson Antix 2.0.   I wish I could say I didn't swim at the falls, but I did.  Every time I think that will never happen again, it does.  I went too far left at the top hole, and then went in the bottom hole without glorious purpose.  Carped a few rolls too for good measure.   With Joan S., Lorraine, Linda D., and a couple I just met and can't remember the names of - he was on a Fluid Do It Now Sit-on-Top.

July 7 Nantahala.  Ferebee thru the falls, in the Jackson Mixmaster 7.5.  I had a perfect line through the falls in the Mixmaster.  I am starting to think it is a great river runner, which is not to be expected in a very slicy boat.  With Andrea and Keith, Joan S., Clayton and Elizabeth.

July 8 Tuckaseegee, higher release.  In the Jackson Mixmaster. 7.5.  With Joan S., Wendy K. and her 9 year old daughter (they were in a rental ducky together).   Great day, warm water, sunny skies.  I love the Tuck, wish I lived closer to it.  

July 9 Deep Creek tubing.  With Andrea and Keith, Clayton and Elizabeth, Ming, and Mary Mills.   My first time and I had a blast!   Unfortunately Mary hit her neck and had to take off.  Mary, Ming, and I wore our helmets and Ming wore her pfd as well.  

July 10 French Broad, 1350 cfs.   To Stackhouse.  In the Jackson Mixmaster 7.5.   We had a wonderful, long day, at one point in an absolute downpour.  I had one flip trying to be cute and thread the needle between two holes.   I carped my roll but Clayton did a half-hand-of-God and finished my roll.  I can't count it as a 'combat roll' but on the other hand, I didn't swim.  I rolled a lot that day and got some tips on what might be tweaked with my technique.

July 19 - 23 Middle Fork of the Salmon 2021.   1.7 ft.  In the Canyons/Maravia ducky.  With lots of my friends.  Wonderful trip and I sit here pondering why I am not there right now.  Photos here:

August  7-8 BCC Summer Slam.  Hiwassee in the Mixmaster 7.5. 
August 14 Coosa.  In the Mixmaster 7.5.  With Ryan S., Nick K, Rey-Rey, Wes, others. Level was supposed to be 8000, but Maytag wasn't in when we went through.   Baby Gap was sort of in.   Moccasin Gap was a bumpy ride.  Maybe between 4-6K?    We put in at the dam and took out at Gold Star park.  That takeout added 40 minutes of flatwater past Corn Creek.  Air temps 90 but there was a breeze so it wasn't as bad as I expected.  My feet hated me by the end.  We also saw a bald eagle below Moccasin Gap. 
August 22-23 Canoe School. In the Pyranha Machno M.  With the Lost Tribe.  Saturday, Middle Tellico from Turkey Creek to Patton's Landing, level 1.9.  Sunday, high water Hiwassee not sure of level but it was fun and not washed out. 
My big beastie, Medium Pyrahna Machno

August 28 Lesson at Columbus Ga whitewater park.  In the M Jackson Antix 2.0. 
I had never been to Columbus before, and decided to take a lesson with the Hargroves.  It is an impressive venue.  I can see how someone could begin learning here, and advance to big water paddling with confidence.  I hope to go back soon.
August 29 Coosa.  In the M Jackson Antix 2.0.   Level 8000.  With David P., Joan S., Ryan S., others.  Really nice day, warm water but cloudy so it wasn't hot.  
September 3 Mulberry.  In the M Jackson Antix 2.0. Level perhaps 1.5.  Late afternoon paddle, thanks to being able to take off half a day.  With Peggy R., Ryan S., Jason and Kathleen L., Vander H.  Surfed everything.
September 4 Mulberry.  In the M Jackson Antix 2.0.  Level around 1 ft.   With Joel and Janice, Peggy, Vander.  We surfed everything again!
September 5 Mulberry.  In the M Jackson Antix 2.0.  Level 9 inches approx.  With James H., and members of the UAB Kayak Club.  Yes, I surfed everything one more day.  So great to have local water and warm temps.  

September 11 Coosa.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  With David P. and Jeff.  Level 4000.  It was a nice relaxing day. 

September 18 Ocoee.  In the Pyranha Machno M.  Level 2200 so it was fluffy.  With Mary M., Keith and Andrea, others. 

September 19 Mulberry.  In the Pyranha Machno M.  Minimum level; 0 perhaps?  It started rising a bit as we were at Lunch Stop and about an hour after we got off it started to really rise.  This morning it is over five feet.  With Joel and Janice, Riley C., Peggy R., Joan S. and Heather S., Jason L., Tammy and Ed and Ed's daughter.   Warm water, warm air, warm rain.  The Machno surfs better than I thought it would.  Best day ever. 

September 25 GAF Weekend. Nantahala.  In the Pyranha Machno M.  With Mary M., Andrea and Keith, others.  Trip report:

I want to give special thanks to Mary M. for letting me be her guest at her house this weekend.  She has lost two sisters as well and knows how hard anniversaries can be.  Last Saturday would have been my sister Kathy's 65th birthday. I drove from B'ham to the Nantahala Outdoor Center first, and had Friday night pizza and social time by the slalom gates, with Tom and Lola, Chris, Juliet, and others. Then I followed Mary back West to her house, which is tucked away in a rural corner of Andrews NC.
One of the nice things about staying at Mary's is she doesn't mind my going into the spare bedroom and disappearing instead of being social. I slept a lot and just got my mind quiet. In the morning we walked the dogs and I saw many different kinds of mushrooms, the neighbor's goats and chickens...
We met up with Keith and Andrea and had a nice paddle of the regular Nantahala on Saturday. I was in my Machno. Afterwards we went to see the new house Keith and Andrea are building, then went to a get-together at Juliet's house. That's where I took this photo with the beer called "Perfect Day".

Sunday I drove back to North Alabama to meet the Birmingham Grotto. We went to a cave that I had found on a ridgewalk a couple of years ago. Back then for a glorious 30-60 seconds I thought I had found an unknown cave for the Alabama Cave Survey, right until I spotted a number on a wall - this cave had not only been found before, it had been MAPPED back in 2006.
I wasn't sure how many people would show up to go on the cave trip but it turned out a fairly large group, which was really nice because I hadn't been caving since the pandemic started, and had lost touch with a lot of them. I remembered the walk to the cave as a leisurely stroll down forest roads, and a brief jaunt downhill to the entrance. Well, it wasn't that, exactly. The forest road part was right, but to get to the entrance we had to clamber down a steep slope dotted with rocks. I should have taken a picture.
The cave itself was really fun. You may notice I haven't mentioned a name. Some if not most of us cavers have stopped naming caves in social media posts.
My dear friend Valerie Howell was on the trip, as her husband Dave was the trip leader, and I had told her I wasn't going to do anything sporting in the cave (translation - not get into any crawling, or mud, or anything messy). There was a central room in the cave that was perfect for just hanging out and I figured I'd hang out there with her and relax in the cave. But then I found out there was a waterfall to see, so I ended up doing some sporting stuff, just some easy crawls and climbing up to get past a constriction to enter the waterfall room. The waterfall was perhaps 25 ft. high. There was a tube crawl to a second waterfall that I declined. I have a photo of Dave in the tube crawl I will post here:

Here is a photo of me sitting between Valerie and Dave, my RBF in its full glory: 

After we exited the cave, I decided to just climb up tree roots and rocks as fast as I could to get back up to the forest road.  Then some of the group went via the forest road which looped back to the parking area. Others, meaning me, Valerie, Dave, and Van, decided going through the woods in the direction of the parking area was a great idea. We kind of got lost. I kept admitting I am not good at map/GPS reading even though I had a point with the parking area on my GAIA app. We went on a little bushwhacking adventure that was a lot like ridgewalking so I viewed it as a preamble to the upcoming season. Eventually we did return to the cars.

So in conclusion, it was a sad weekend but a fun weekend too. I had to fight a great inclination to sit in my house depressed instead of go visit my friends. I am very grateful to be able to do so.  And there's a missing element to this. I didn't paddle the Upper Nantahala. That is why I had brought the creek boat of course, slay the dragon from when I got pinned two years ago.  And I didn't do it, though I don't doubt my ability to do so. It's really fun and I hope to get on it again one day.

Some people may not know about my sister. Well she was the best. We were super close. She was 9.5 years older than me, but she was really young at heart and loved music. We would go see bands etc. back in the day. We lived together briefly (and drove each other crazy), and we worked at the same place for almost 30 years. She was the coolest person I will ever know. Kathy was stricken with early onset frontal-temporal dementia and lung cancer. We didn't know what the dementia was, at first she just seemed absent-minded, but it got worse and worse. Fortunately we were able to go to England in 2016 as she and I both loved English literature and the Beatles. As the dementia progressed she had to leave work. She died in May of 2020. I helped take care of her the last year of her life. I will love her forever.

October 2nd.  Hiwassee.  In the Jackson Mixmaster 7.5.  With Joel, Janice, Peggy, Kenny, and Lori.  Warm weather and - warm water- the little rolling creek was colder than the main Hiwassee-  I did some enders for the first time in forever and rolled a bunch.  
We stayed at Gee Creek and it rained buckets.  Sunday we all went home.

October 9 Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2 M.  Level 1.7 after combining the three gauges. With Peggy, Norma L, Riley, and Stacy W.  We think the Streambeam gauge is reading 3 inches lower than the bridges. Warm weather and local water, sunny skies.  What a great day!   Lots of surfing at Training Wheels and Lunchstop.  None of us managed to get on Hawaii 5-0 Wave though.  

Norma L. and I surfing Training Wheels, 10-09-21

October 10 Skydiving.  With Kenny and Lori, Peggy, Tammy, aRind Brittany.  What an awesome day.    Trip Report here: SKYDIVING

October 16 -17 BCC 50th Anniversary party.  At King's Bend.  We did a Low Country Boil.  Some people paddled ELF Locust, I didn't. Sunday afternoon I went to visit Moe. 

November 7 Ridgewalking.   With Dave H. and Reed H.  We went to check a lead on Keel Mountain that Reed found in 2007.  After 14 years we returned and confirmed it is already on the ACS.  We also found some other interesting leads.  Hoping to return before 14 more years have passed.  Video here:

November 14 Hang Gliding.  With the crew that went skydiving.   We did tandem hang gliding at Lookout Mtn. It was lovely.  We went up 3000 ft. 

November 20 Ridgewalking with Lin G. and Dave H.  We went back and checked a lead from last winter.  Video here:

November 21 Second Tandem Skydive.  At Skydive Alabama.   Cloudy, but the clouds dispersed enough for us to do a jump after a couple hours wait, no photos or video, just joy.  14k feet. 
This stuff is addictive. 

December 12 Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0  Weather mid 50's, sunny, water level 1.5ish (aggregate of gauges).  Lunchstop wave PERFECT.  With Joan S., Stacy W., Joel, Janice, Peggy, Kathleen, Jason, Vander, others. 

December 22 Ridgewalk with Dave H.  Checked the lead I found this past February 2021, and I found another lead that turned out to be an IKF but was still cool.  Video here:

December 23 Locust Fork.   In the Jackson Antix 2.0. Weather around 60 degrees, sunny, level 2.3ish.  We met at noon. With Jason L, Tammy, Ed, Peggy, and Ming.   Took out at Swann.  Perfect afternoon paddle.   

December 31 Upper Mulberry.  In the Jackson Antix 2.0.  Weather in the 70s, level 2.5.  With Joel and Janice, Jason L, Peggy R., Heather S.  Great way to say farewell to 2021. 

October 11, 2021


This past Sunday, October 10th, some of my friends and I went Skydiving, at Chattanooga Skydiving Company, a place I highly recommend for a professional, safe experience in a gorgeous landscape.  

The thing is, skydiving is not something I had ever thought I would do.

The reason I decided to try skydiving starts with the scariest thing I have to do every year- get a mammogram and pap smear.  My family history is pretty significant including both of my sisters being breast cancer survivors.   This year it was really hard to make myself get these tests.  There is nothing so desperate feeling like hugging that mammogram machine while it takes a scan.  And my grandmother had uterine cancer.   I am thankful for the tests don't get me wrong.  It's just scary.  I decided if my results were all clear I would go skydiving to celebrate.  

Why skydiving?  First, it is something I had told myself I would never do.  I hate the feeling of freefalling, I don't jump off of tall stuff, and I don't like kayaking off waterfalls either over a certain height.  
I know several people who have tried skydiving, and when they have posted about it on social media I've shook my head and said, nuts, but otherwise didn't find it interesting.  

However, earlier this year, I started getting skydiving mishap videos suggested by Youtube, I guess because I like watching kayak carnage videos.  I kept watching more and more. The skydive videos all end well, they aren't snuff videos, but it struck me that it's a lot like kayaking, for instance everyone waiting on the plane to jump out like waiting in an eddy above a scary rapid.  And once in flight, if something goes wrong, they have to methodically deal with it, like we kayakers do once we're in a rapid.  I realized it was becoming something I wanted to do. 

I asked some friends if they were interested and Kenny and Lori were the first to say 'Yes!'.  It was becoming more real. Lori suggested Chattanooga area so we would be in the mountains/lake scenery.  Making the reservation online was simple but it felt like when I mailed the form for taking whitewater kayaking lessons in 99 - scary.  We initially were going on October 3rd but it was rained out so we moved it to October 10.  I remember feeling so relieved when it was rained out lol.  

The night before the jump, I had a hard time sleeping.  Once I woke up having dreamed we had done the jump and then realizing no, that was not true.  Driving up there was surreal as well.  Then we waited a few hours.  Reasons being, they had other people who were rained out the previous Sunday like us, and a 2 hour delay that morning for fog.   But it was a clear, sunny, warm, gorgeous day.  There were six of us - me, Kenny, Lori, Peggy, Tammy, and Brittany.  I could not have done this without friends doing it with me!

It helped me to see other people who had never tried skydiving waiting to fly, and their reactions after.  Nobody looked like a super-hero, just ordinary people, and everybody was smiling. 

Kenny, Lori, and I were on the same flight.  We had each bought the package with a videographer etc.  I did this in part because I was thinking I would be terrified and never do it again, so might as well get it recorded lol.  I was first on the plane with my tandem instructor, so I would be last off.  We were packed in tight, in a plane that was long with benches we straddled, but not tall enough to stand up in.  There was also a student and instructor with us, so 8 people total. The flight up took maybe 15 minutes.  We had bought the 14k feet jump, they have a taller one.  When they opened the door, I had a crazy feeling.  I went from being scared to go out, to feeling compelled to go out.  I watched as my friends went out and we moved forwards.
When it was my turn, my legs dangled over the edge of the door and my instructor said something like, 'ready, steady, spaghetti' and then we tumbled into space.  It was the most awesome feeling, weightless, incredible.  It didn't feel like falling.  It felt like flying.  I've heard it described a few times as 'bliss' and that is the perfect word for it.
When my instructor popped the canopy open, it wasn't as harsh as I had been warned by friends.  It felt like we shot up in the sky, but I believe that was just deceleration.  Anyway, we flew around like a big old hawk.  I got to steer the canopy, Lake Nickajack was below us and beautiful.   My instructor asked me if I liked spinny rides at the fair and I said yes, so he started swooping us around.  That got my stomach a bit lol.  All too soon we were landing and I held my legs up as we landed on our butts. 

I was exhilarated and ecstatic and wanted to go again.   Peggy, Tammy, and Brittany went and I was able to watch them land.   We had a celebratory shot of apple whiskey, then went to eat Mexican food in South Pittsburg.  What an awesome day! 

I remember watching the guys who take the tandem students up.  They go on jumps multiple times a day; and I thought, "These guys have a job scaring people, like working at a haunted house".  And then, after I finished my jump, I thought, "these guys have a job making people happy.  They get to see all the fear and worry melt away to joy".  

And yeah, I am going to go again, even looking into what it takes to do the AFF Program. 

Raw footage of my skydive:   

Lori asked me what our next adventure is going to be.   I think maybe gliders.  There's a place in Chilhowee.