On the Road.
The steam rolls off my hot cup of coffee. The sun still hiding beneath the cloak of darkness called night. As my car begins to warm. And my headlight blaze through the darkness like that of a head light of a miner. I gaze down and the temperature reads 30.
My timing to head south was perfectly timed. As the warm weather of fall has subsided and the cool brisk air has replaced it.
I packed my Subaru with all the gear that a fall and early winter trip would need. Paddles, boards, fishing gear, yoga mats, tent and sleeping gear. My journey would take me south through New England and meander through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee.
The First Stop.
Underestimating the time it would take me to pack all the fun. And the hiccups that trips always reveal. I left New England about a day later than planned. Typically it would not be a big deal, but I had a date. An important one.
My delays but me under the gun to make it to the event before the start. And put me behind the wheel for 18 hours. Thanks to some amazing books on audible and great conversations with friends. The time went by quicker than one would think. And arriving beneath the cover of darkness I left New England in.
The next couple of days were truly something that this blog will never do justice. Seeing friends from all over. On and off the water.
Chattajack was everything I heard. And so much more. Even with plummeting temperatures. It was the coldest weather I experienced all fall during the day light hours. The high temperature hovered around 43. And a stiff wind, that felt like it came straight out of the Arctic, joined in on the fun. Then we had rain. In all honesty, if you ask me what the worst paddle weather in the world is. That was it.
With the horrendous conditions from Mother Nature. Over 500 paddlers took to the water. All stoked. From start until finish. On the water around mile 16 the hoots and hollers from the paddlers echoed throughout the Tennessee River Gorge. It truly was a remarkable feat to witness.
During the after party, it was a party. High fives. Hugs. Stories. Everyone was in great spirits and frothing about what they just completed. And it was contagious.
A race I encourage everyone to attend or better yet paddle. If you are wondering why, a few of the paddlers and friends of Surftech shared their thoughts on, Why Chattajack?
Leaving Tennessee with a smile that reached from ear to ear. I headed down south. This time my agenda was a bit more wide open. Allowing me to explore a bit more. After a few stops into Cabbalas to hear about the latest fishing reports and find the best spots. I made my way to a small lake just outside Macon, Georgia. Lake Tobesofkee was the place. A beautiful state park put me steps from the water just a few hours before sunset. Stand up paddleboarding this body of water meandering around canals, creeks and into the wide open. The fish seemed to be hiding from the cold snap that was lingering but the sunset was truly a beautiful one. As I packed up and headed back on the road. The temperature read 45. It seemed that the cold weather was following me.
Spending the night about 60 miles from the Florida border, I spent the night doing some research. I was going to take one more stop. And take in nature in the northern part of the sunshine state.
I found it. The stopping point. A chain of lakes connected by a meandering creek. In the heart of North Florida. As I unloaded the board and my gear. A few locals said hello and told me how much fun we were in for.
As a paddled out on the stained water the creeks looked like those deep in the bayou. Cypress trees stained the water the color of my black coffee. And the birds sang out welcoming me. Moments before I took my first cast, a bald eagle swooped down and gave me a look. I knew I found the perfect place to explore.
Again coming up empty handed with fish. I realized that there was so much more being offered. This lake was one that I would have never have visited if it wasn’t for my new passion of stand up paddle fishing. And for this I was grateful.
The final stop had all kinds of rewards. The location is breath taking beautiful. With Gulf Coast sunsets and white sands that look like grains of sugar. And my family. This piece adds so much enjoyment to the trip. Stand up paddling. Beach days. And adventures together.
And was the perfect ending to the thousand plus miles that clicked on my odometer.