Friday, March 15, 2019

Stones River Plans - Part I

Ok got the logistics worked out I think.  Our total trip will be right around 20 miles.

In 2004 we put in at Goochie Ford which was a low-water bridge. The locals called it "The Slab."    Zoom in on the map in Mullowney's hand at our Brown's Diner planning session and you can see all the notes for that trip.

Apparently we paddled 13 miles to the big gravel bar island campsite.  And since that was our first (and last) one-nighter, that means we also drove from Nashville and ran the shuttle that day.  Adult sized serving!

We are older and wiser now and will probably do our river miles something like 5-10-5, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. 

Since 2004 , there have been two interesting developments that make it likely we will put in about a mile upstream from Goochie Ford at Readyville (pronounced REEDY-ville). 

First reason: The Slab at Goochie Ford is not a slab anymore. It's actually a low bridge now, which is different from a low-water bridge.  The former you can paddle under (appealing), the latter you portage over or around (less appealing, and probably why we put in there last time).

New Goochie Ford Bridge

The second positive development is the mill at Readyville.
Click on history.  Since we were there last it was purchased, restored, and reopened as an operating grist mill. Just like the glory days of Rat McFerrin.  They open at 9:00 am on Saturdays so we can buy our dry goods that morning. 

Bonus fact from the history of the mill:  the Stones River did not get its name from the stones in the river, or from The Stones, but from Uriah Stone.  Uriah did have some big stones though.  He was not afraid of creditors or Indians:

Actually maybe he was afraid of Indians:

Bonus reasons for putting in at the mill:  they have given us actual permission to launch there, and we don't have to clamber over all that rip-rap at Goochie Ford with our heavy canoes and cast iron.  Really the only reason we won't is if the water is too high to get the canoes under the bridge at Goochie Ford.

Either way our first night will be somewhere after the confluence with McKnight Branch (traveling right to left on this map):

I'll preview the second half of the trip next week.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Spring 2019

Spring trip gonna be April 5 - 7.  That's pretty soon fellas.  One month from tomorrow, in fact.

Our hopeful/probable destination is the East Fork of the Stones River.  In Rutherford County just on the other side of Murfreesboro.

Depending on how you measure it, the Stones was the first river that we did as a real canoe club.  Exactly 15 years ago in the Spring of 2004.  That was the trip of the first Osso Bucco and the beer pigs, and led to the adoption of some of the first RRCC regulations, especially new rules on medical marijuana and concealed carry.

It also had one of the best gravel bar islands we've ever camped on...

We can't guarantee it will work out to stop there again because river access points have changed in the last 15 years and we have not been able to scout them because of high water and flooding.  But there are many good gravel bars like it along the way.  We will for sure stop and have a toast.

We will also pass the old site where Brown's Mill used to be.  When we did it in 2004 the mill was gone but the remains of the dam were still there which created some excitement for us getting through.

Below is a surprisingly in-depth video about the mill and the removal of that dam in 2014.  It's excellent and is mandatory viewing if you're even thinking about going on this trip.

Basically, they blew up the dam just for us.  So the least we can do is go float it again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

2018 Fall Trip

The fall trip will be the weekend of October 19 - 21.

We're going to do the section of the Duck River that was planned for the spring trip before we diverted to the Buffalo because of high water. 


This will be a two-nighter, so we will not do the entire distance originally planned for three nights in the spring.  We'll put in at Milltown (RM 179) and, paddling right to left on your screen, will take out at Carpenter's Bridge Road which is between RM 164 and RM 165.  All on the first map.

Here are the pictures from the spring trip to get you in the mood to start laying out gear:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mother Nature called and said to keep making all those detailed plans. 

She thinks it's funny.

Two long skeins of big birds flapped across the grayness toward the south - sandhill cranes, grating out their castle-gate croak - and I knew what the air's muggy edge meant.  Geese confirmed it, the first I'd seen, four snows in a little disciplined V, winging solemnly and soundlessly south.  The wind on the river died, and paddling I began to sweat.  It was the kind of day that usually, in the Texas fall, is full of a kind of waiting; things are moving, the year is changing, a norther is coming....

There is less talk of "northers" these days.  People sit softly at ten fifteen in the evening and watch while a bacon vender points to highs and lows and fronts on a chart, and then they go to the wall to twirl their thermostats, and perhaps the windows rattle a little in the night, but that's about all....In the country, though, a front is a fact still.  There it's a blue line along the horizon, and a waiting, sweaty hush, and a hit like a moving wall, and all of life scurrying for the southern lee of things. There it's a battening down, an opening of hydrant valves, a checking of young and valuable stock, a walking across the swept lots with a flashlight, a leaning against the hard-shoving cold, a shuddering and creaking of old, tall, frame houses.  Therefore I had little doubt about the exhilaration that lumped in my chest while I watched the cranes and the geese.

The women affirmed what the cranes and geese had told me; the television said that weather was on the way.  They hadn't paid much mind to how bad it was to be, or when it was to  hit.  In the end, I had to argue out of an invitation to lunch two hours thence, when McKee would have returned; I said I had to get on down the river.  It was true; if weather was to come, I wanted to be set for it.

Near the Oakes crossing, the sky seemed about to clear, then did not.  the wind veered about from the east, and then back from the south, while the north side of me itched in expectation of that thrust which did not come.  Finally it did come, or seemed to, a cool push from the northeast behind me as I tooled down into the long ingoing stretch of the Village Bend on smooth-flowing water over shallow sand and gravel.  Then it stopped, and the air was hot again.  I gave up weather prognostication.

I paddled on down a mile and, having time, picked a good campsite on a Berumda flat ten or twelve feet above the water with a wide, clean, sand beach below it and brush sheltering it behind, on the north.  Goats had cropped the grass like a lawn and had done the passenger the favor of eating up all the burrs, which the perversely like.  Good solid driftwood was lodged among the brush from the spring floods.  I pitched the tent tail-north, the stakes solid in good turf, dug a pit for the fire before it, and, liking the looks of the whole business, decided I'd stay there until the norther had come and blown and show the length of its teeth. I could hold out, there.  Except it didn't come. 

Prognosticating despite myself, I decided that the cold front must have slowed to a stop somewhere to the north, so I loaded up early in the afternoon and pushed on under a blue sky pierced high by yellow thunderheads.  But back on the river, swirling high currents swept the thunderheads out of the sky like minor actors exiting before the stars show up onstage. For thirty minutes a hot hush hung...

Finally, from the northwest, an arched crescent of blue-dun cloud, sky-wide, rolled hugely high and fast down at us, the atmosphere clear before it and clear behind.  Not having prognosticated worth a damn, I scuttled for the flatter shore and had the tent up lopsided but solid under a half-dead elm by the time the first big slam of cold hit, with a sweep of leaves and sand and the fresh uplift of body and spirit, probably barometric, that they always carry even when you don't want them.

From the southeast, rearing to meet the blue-dun cloud's charge, a white roll of exactly similar shape moved up.  In the dusk, when I'd finished setting up and was squatting in the tent opening by a good fire, they met with thunder and the last red tints of sundown flame-edged their fight.  Big drops of rain spatted down diagonally through the violent air, and the old elm in the fire hissed and spewed and stank and radiated, lightning took over the sun's work and made the early night for a time flickeringly white, and loud with thunder.

I baked a slab of biscuit bread, dry and toast-tasting, beside the fire, ate it with thick slices of broiled bacon, and went to bed.  The rain thickened, then slacked, then came down again in floods; the night crackled and roared with change and iron cold.  Drunk with coziness, the pup wallowed beside me and groaned, and I remember wondering, before I slept, a little more about the relation of storms to man.... If, being animal, we ring like guitar strings to nature's furies, what hope can there be for our ultimate, planned peacefulness?

But night questions don't have answers. 

Goodbye to a River, pp. 108-110.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


I know every one of you jessies is looking at the weather forecast for Saturday wishing you were not in a rain or shine canoe club. 

Being on a river with 100% chance of 3"of rain and a severe weather warning? That's like a picnic to us. 

A Bear Mountain picnic

So there is a good chance that we will all pull out at Topsy Bridge on Saturday morning.  If we do, we will come back to Nashville and use my house as our Saturday night camp since I will be a bachelor this weekend anyway.  We can all go as a group to the Rolling Stones exhibit in our river boots and watch the Predators game.  Stay in the kitchen.  Have our own picnics, in the bathroom.  Build a fire in my driveway. 

Quite lucky to be alive though!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Devil in the Details

Here we go.  Pay attention and watch for your name because this gets complicated.

First, open these maps.

We will meet at my house at 7:30 am Thursday.  It will be a full day.  It's a two hour drive to the river, a long shuttle, and a six mile paddle that may or may not include a portage around a low-water bridge.  So don't be late and no grab-ass in the driveway while we finish loading the trailer. 

Leaving Thursday morning from my house are:  Skip, Josh, Phil, Dave, Cronin, and Jim MyersRob will either join us there or leave from his house in the Suburban with Pete Feldman's canoe.  Myers will drive his own car, and we will need at least one more driver in addition to my truck and the trailer.

Pete Feldman and Chris Sands will meet us at the Grinders Creek put-in Thursday morning about 10:00, coming from different directions.  Mullowney, being the lone desperado that he is, will travel on his own and also put in at Grinders Creek but later Thursday afternoon.  He will paddle down and join us in camp downriver.

Stuart lands in Nashville Thursday night at 7:00.  Jack will pick him up at the airport and they will drive to the Sickler Rd. put-in and launch about  9:30 pm.  They will have a 1-1/2 mile paddle (in the dark) Thursday night so we will expect them in camp about 10:30 pm.   Jack is also coming over Wednesday night and I will give him a map and a canoe. 

Myers is taking out Friday morning at Riverside Bridge and Jack and Stuart are taking out Saturday morning at Topsy Bridge.  That means (in reverse order for shuttle purposes) we need to leave someone's car at Topsy for Jack and Stuart and leave Jim's car at Riverside.  Jim will drive his own car back to Nashville on Friday when he gets out.  Jack and Stuart will drive the extra car back to Sickler Rd. on Saturday, leave it there, and drive Jack's car back to Nashville.  

Vernon may join Saturday morning at Topsy Bridge where Jack and Stuart pull out.  If he does, they can use his truck to drive back up to Jack's car at Sickler Rd.  If not, see above.  Vernon and I will figure out his canoe or he can just take Jim Myers' duffer seat.

If Tim finishes with his family business and doesn't look at the weather report he may join Friday or Saturday.  If Trump fires Mueller on Wednesday Josh will have to stay back to explain to his clients why the S&P 500 looks like the Duck River gauge.


Some combination of us have done almost all of this trip in different sections, but we've never done it beginning to end.  For most of the group there will be some new river for you.  Here are some reference points:

The Thursday paddle from Grinders Creek put-in to the low-water bridge at Sickler Rd. is the same as the very end of the Spring 2010 trip.  We put in at David Fox's cabin and took out at Sickler Rd. low-water bridge.  So it's been eight years since we've been on that section but we know it looks like this:

And also this:

The next four miles downstream from Sickler Rd. was the first day of the Spring 2015 trip but was only done by Skip, Phil and Vernon on Friday.  It looks like this:

And this:

We stopped on Friday night at the Buffalo River Campground where everyone else arrived by car:

The next 13 river miles we did as a full group on that trip and it included this campsite on Saturday night across from Pine Bluff between RM 77 and 78.

So we can check to see how that basil plant is doing:

This weekend we will camp twice on that section, once Friday at the upper part (somewhere below Buffalo River Campground) and Saturday night downstream of our Pine Bluff stop.

The last two miles will be completely new for the Club until we get to our take-out at RM 73 which was our put-in (and Friday night camp) for the Fall 2015 trip.


RRCC Menu – Spring 2018
(Don't forget to bring your own cups(s), plates, and utensils) 
(and beer)

Thursday, 4/12:

Lunch:          Mullowney’s Mediterranean Spread starring Irish Cheese, Salami, Avocados, Baguettes, Guinea Oil & Kumquats
Supper:         Josh and Skip Celebrity Chef  Surprise with Aunt Sara's East Texas Cheese Grits and Bacon Old Fashioneds. 


Friday, 4/13:

Breakfast:     Lowry’s Banana Walnut Bread




Lunch:          Fresh Gulf Shrimp Rolls


Supper:         Proud Mary-turned Whole Rotisseried Muscovy Duck

Baked Minnesota Canoe Hand-Harvested Wild Rice

Big Wang’s Turnip Greens Celestial


Saturday, 4/14:

Breakfast:     Lowry’s Banana Walnut Bread




Lunch:          Phil’s Deconstructed Apocalypse Now rolls warmed on the Estonian Volcano


Supper:         Beef Pot Roast with English root vegetables a la Ian


Sunday, 4/15:

Breakfast:     Lowry’s Banana Walnut Bread


                     Morphine IV Drip




Get off  the Natchez Trace Parkway at milepost 380.8
Go west on Napier Lake Rd. 5.2 miles

Or try putting 100 Napier Lake Rd, Hohenwald into your GPS (but no promises)


Go due south from Hohenwald on Hwy. 99 for 5.8 miles
Turn left on Sickler Rd. for 1.7 miles

Or try putting 121 Texas Valley Lane, Hohenwald into your GPS (no promises)


Go due south from Hohenwald on Hwy 99 for 9.3 miles

Or try putting 116 Seiber Ridge Rd. in your GPS (but, you know)


Go southwest out of Hohenwald on Hwy 48 for 8.5 miles
Turn left on Topsy Rd and go 5.0 miles

GPS does not know about Topsy Rd.