One of my favorite things is going kayaking family style. Sometimes Kathy can’t make it and Abby and I go – just the two of us. This offers a special time that I really enjoy. We have been in Rock Island, TN the last few days. The river was running low with only one generator at the hydro station. This is a great opportunity to paddle the largest rapids with Abby with a less pushy and intimidating flow. At the top, there is a big rock outcropping creating the perfect seal launch into the water that ranged from one to twenty+ feet that lands with a big splash and a huge smile.
In the flat water at the top, we did some warmups and a few rolls then headed toward the roar of the rapids. On the left side of the river, there are giant waterfalls. This water gushes from cracks in the rock and cascades down the cliff and into the roaring rapids below. This first rapid can be a bit intimidating for small kids. It features giant waves as the water runs fast under the falls and ends after a small bend and a big hole that is best passed on the right. The hole is big and rowdy and over head high, but is great for surfin. There are a few large eddies throughout the rapid that allow you to break it up into less intimidating chunks.
After the first rapid is a short flat section before the second rapid. The river forks, with an easier right channel with some large waves that Abby punched through and flew over the tops of others. Another flat section follows that offers some really neat places where you can paddle under small waterfalls and cliff bands. We took lots of pictures with our GoPro’s and had a blast spatting a few rocks. I have seen bald eagles here on previous trips but we didn’t see any this time.
A fork in the river leads to more rapids. We went right and had a blast with more huge wave trains. Abby hit the the second wave at it highest point and almost became airborn. She was all smiles and we whooped and cheered the rest of the way through the runout. With a little floating and a little paddling we arrived at the boat ramp on the left bank.
It was a fun quick trip down some quality whitewater in a gorgeous canyon that could be confused with Costa Rican waterfalls. If you are in eastern Tennessee this it a spot that shouldn’t be missed. Here is a link to Rock Island State Park