This year has not been good for paddlers. The drought has lowered water tables across the region, making many rivers unrunable. The best bet for a decent paddle are those rivers that are dam-controlled, such as the Green, Nantahala, and Tuckaseegee. Even then, you’re in for a rough, rock-strewn ride, as evidenced by my last encounter on the Green.
On Sunday we thought we would give the Tuckaseegee a try and see if it had more water than the Green. I met Bob and Roxanne at the put-in about noon, and we looked skeptically at the rocks poking above the surface, despite the fact that there had been a dam release that morning. Bob said that a group of canoes had just launched, so maybe there was some water after all.
I’ve now run the Tuck at three different levels – flood stage, normal, and very low. The river has such different characteristics at those levels. Today, just about any line I picked was going to be rocky. At one point I managed to beach my kayak high and dry, wedge on a couple of rocks. Nothing for it but to drag myself out of the boat, then drag it upstream and try again. In the actual rapids, the movements were more like a ballet than a paddle, as we pirhouetted around rocks to hit narrow openings where there might be a bit of water for passage.
The flat portions of the river were even flatter and more still. We had plenty of time to kick back and float. For that reason, this run took a bit longer than some, and we decided against a second run today.
Even with the rocks and low water, we keep reminding ourselves that even a bad day on the river is better than a day at work. This wasn’t a bad day, and in fact the run was decent, despite the low levels.