Kayaking on the Nantahala River.

April 18, 1999, Joel Markwell, Mark McCarty, Cathie Neel and I went kayaking on the Nantahala River in western North Carolina, just south of the Great Smokey Mountains. We rented inflatable kayaks, and were taken about 3 miles upstream then dropped off. Here's a photo of me at the drop-off point:

We all wore our wetsuits and even used the rentals' dry pants and jackets. Even with all that, and the life-vest, we were pretty cold.

Joel had his own kayak, and looked quite good in all his gear. Someone who happened upon us might even think he knew was he was doing! <g>

The two others,Mark and Cat, were as about as experienced with kayaking as I was, which is to say, very little.

I had done some kayaking some years before, but never more than just a taste. I did have lots of experience with canoes, so the idea of dealing with a river and its elements was not new to me. Most of the river was tame but the water moved along pretty good most of the time. Occasioinally we navigated through some rocks, fallen trees, and other hazards.

The countryside was beautiful and very rugged. The air temp was in the 60's and the water temp was in the 50's. We may have looked like we were doing just fine, but we were damp, cold, numb and tired.

Near the end of the 3 miles was a significant waterfall. Some people simply ported their kayak/canoe around it. We stopped to take a look and find the best track, then took our chances. Cathie went completely over. I was right behind her and managed to come out of the ordeal without incident.

Afterwards, on the way back to Atlanta -- actually, it was a huge detour, to a tiny place called East Ellijay, GA, right on the edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest --, we stopped for barbeque at this place (below), Poole's Bar-B-Q "Pig Hill of Fame".. They are world-famous for having plywood-cutouts of pigs, with famous peoples names on them. Now, that doesn't sound like something a place could be famous for, but then again I've seen stranger things. Oh, and they have great bar-b-q, too!

The trip was actually quite exhausting for me, not being used to several hours straight of considerable physical activity. (Yeah, what can I say, I'm a programmer, not a forest ranger!) The following week I spent in a Java class in Atlanta before I flew home to Houston.

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