5 Things to Take on a Paddling Trip
Canoeing and kayaking the waterways offers many personal benefits such as physical exercise, a connection with nature, and mental peace. Luckily, the Tennessee River Valley includes an abundance of picturesque lakes and rivers perfect for water lovers who enjoy paddling and fishing.
Traveling light, and paddling requires light packing due to lack of space in a small boat, canoe or kayak. Of course, the most important items to take with you are your paddle and drinking water, but what else should you take in order to be comfortable and make the most of your water experience?
The lakes and rivers are accessible year round.
Water flow can fluctuate with water levels being higher in the spring and lower in the late fall and winter.
Always practice Leave No Trace when you visit this region.
The use of public boat launches is free.
When launching from a marina or other launch, check to see if there is a launch fee.
Once summer hits, I am always eager to head to the lake for a float in my canoe. Luckily, the Tennessee River Valley includes an abundance of picturesque lakes and rivers perfect for water lovers who enjoy paddling and fishing. In fact, there are many such areas in and around the city of Knoxville that are just waiting to be explored.
A few examples include Melton Hill Dam in Lenoir City, Seven Islands State Birding Park located east of Knoxville, and the Tennessee River that flows through downtown Knoxville. Deciding where to go is half the fun, and none of these natural areas disappoint. Once you decide where to paddle, the next decision is what to take along with you on your adventure.
Personally, I love traveling light, and paddling requires light packing due to lack of space in a small boat, canoe or kayak. Of course, the most important items to take with you are your paddle and drinking water, but what else should you take in order to be comfortable and make the most of your water experience?
Below are five essentials that I have found helpful when spending the day paddling on the lake.
1. Waterproof bag for your personal belongings:
When going for an adventure on the lake, any items that you take into your boat have a chance of getting wet. Therefore, everything that you place in your canoe or kayak should be waterproof. In order to take along important items such as a phone, keys, and wallet, insert them in a waterproof bag. Waterproof bags vary in their sizes, some as large as backpacks and others as small as a pouch only big enough for a cell phone. Even a common ziplock bag from home can serve as storage for your belongings. If your paddle splashes water into the canoe or kayak, these personal belongings will stay safe and dry. When you spot a bird or other wildlife, you will have access to your phone for quick pictures.
In addition, paddlers might consider taking along another waterproof bag for binoculars. If you are a bird enthusiast, you will want to stop paddling for a closer look at distant birds that are often spotted around East Tennessee’s beautiful lakes. For example, Great Blue Herons, Kingfishers, and Bald Eagles are common birds found in this area. Visitors are likely to see Mallard Ducks swimming in the sun or waddling around the shore as well. Having binoculars handy will ensure that you will not miss out on witnessing these animals in their natural setting.
3. Sun protection
When spending the day on the lake, much time will be spent in the sun without the shelter of shade from trees. Of course, sunscreen is essential for skin health when in the sun for this length of time. I also never forget my sunglasses, since they not only shield my eyes from the sun, but they also cut down on glare from the water. But don’t forget about other types of sun protection, such as hats and sun protective clothing with SPF. Baseball caps are nice for a day on the lake, but also drawstring outdoor bucket hats are ideal. Their large brims offer face and neck coverage, and many even contain insect repellent. Hats, along with clothes that offer SPF protection, add another layer of safety and comfort when under the scorching sun all day.
4. Water shoes
You will definitely want to pack a pair of shoes that you won’t mind getting wet when planning a paddling trip. If nothing else, your feet will get wet when boarding the canoe or kayak. Other than that, there will be plenty of opportunities for wading in the water or even swimming in order to take a break and cool off from the heat of the sun. Many times when I canoe, my family and I find an area with a small shore that allows us to get out and take a dip, and I am always thankful for my water shoes. There are a variety of water shoes on the market that are comfortable and protect your feet, such as slip-on aqua socks to water sandals that are open-toed. Many offer a non-slip grip and are lightweight, which provide extra comfort and ease when walking in the water.
5. A Towel and change of clothes for the car
I always keep a towel in my car to use once my paddling adventure comes to an end. You never know when you might come across a sand bar or a rocky shore on your journey and wish to stop to wade or splash in the water. A towel isn’t needed in the canoe or kayak because the sun will quickly dry you off, but it is handy to have a towel in the car and perhaps even a change of clothes.
Fortunately, not many items are needed to have a great experience on the lake, but it is important to be prepared with a few necessities. The more you are prepared, the more time and energy you can focus on having fun on the water. Happy paddling!
Look for more blueways to paddle in the Tennessee River Valley here