Narrative and Photos by Eric Fleming
The annual Sandhill Crane Paddle on January 6th, drew 13 paddlers who met at 10 am at the ramp near Dayton, TN. It was 19 degrees at put in as we headed up the Hiwassee River. It wasn’t long till we came to the Wildlife Refuge with Sandhill Cranes and White Pelicans; both of which migrate through here from the Canadian border to Florida and beyond. So cool to see.
There were a lot less cranes than usual, probably due to the prolonged teen degree weather. I mean, if they liked teen degree weather they would have just stayed in Wisconsin!!. It was 20 degrees warmer when we did it last year with 29 paddlers.
While taking photos we had a paddler swivel too far around, got disorientated and flipped. We got him back in his boat pretty quickly, and just in time for it not to all be filmed by the passing Aquarium tour boat!! It’s a shame that next weekend will be the last run for the Aquarium boat as it’s going to be put up for sale after that. The Southern Belle has yet again become the sole survivor out of many competitors over the years. Anyway, I headed back to the put-in with our swimmer, leaving the rest of the crew in the capable hands of Eric B, Ben, and BG. I’m always so glad to have these guys with us on trips, and thankful for all that they do to make it easier for all of us. After loading up we headed over to the nearby Jacob Meyer’s restaurant for a nice leisurely late lunch. Great to have Nancy drive all the way up just to eat with us as she can’t paddle following surgery.
Sweet dreams till our next adventure,