It was time for the Famous (0r Infamous) TSRA Rendezvous on the Cumberland
Plateau and the water levels didn't look good. However, Big South Fork of the
Cumberland was slowly dropping down from around 800 cfs and the weekend
offered the Ocoee or maybe the Pigeon, so I headed on down to the Great State
Thursday morning, a group of us finally decided on the Big South and quickly
gathered gear and shuttle vehicles. Since the level was going to be pretty low
and creeky, I thought that this would be a good test for my new Aire Lynx.
Yes, I've admitted it before in public. I'm a sometimes Duckist. When it's
rocky and low volume, I just can't think of anything as much fun as a IK.
We dropped the shuttle vehicles at Leatherwood Ford and headed to the
Confluence putin. It's about a half mile carry down into the canyon (another
to take the 35lb IK) but it is the sane option at low water. We ended up with a
variety of boats, two cats, my IK, several kayaks and OC!'s. There was even a
in the group behind us.
There are several interesting play spots and a few nice warm up rapids, but the
Big Three come very soon after you are on the River. The first on the List is
Double Falls. The first drop is straight forward with the second drop over a
diagonal ledge with a bad pinning potential at low water. This is harder at low
water than at most levels. Bill, one of our OC1's had ran it first, swam and
recovered his boat and set up safety at the pinning rock. Terry and then one of
the Cats (a Perception Revolution hardshell) ran with no problems. I went next,
cleaned the first drop and got a bit far right on the second. Really turned out
to be an OK route. I just rode the foam pile off of the pinning rock and right
into the chute. The rest of our group dropped down with the normal amount of
Several swims and rolls and one near pin. Oh BTW, did I mention that the
was clear, Sunny and in the 80's with water temps around 65 degrees. Swimming
and rolling were not the dreaded events of most early spring trips.
Washing Machine is next and it's really a different rapid at low water. It
drops about 4'+ in between to rock slabs that are about 8' apart. It has a very
sticky hole at this level and tends to ender you out of the slot. That's real
fun if you expect it,
but kind of a shock to be suddenly looking at blue sky if you are not. I came
through on a beautiful ender/stern squirt and dropped into the eddy to watch
fun. It squirted both the Cats, which was pretty interesting. Several other
The Ell is the biggy and the next in line. I don't like the left side at low
entry is bony and it's hard to get over the big diagonal curler wave to hit the
chute, which then drops into a big wave hole. This rapid has a longer entry
you can eddy hop if you want, then most of the current piles into a truck sized
slightly undercut rock before turning back hard right over the bottom ledge,
a wave train at the bottom. I chose the right hand route, boofing off the left
the center pourover and into the soft right hand side of the hole. It surfs you
across the foam pile and out for an easy river left eddy. I jumped up on the
bottom rock with a camera and a throw rope to catch the carnage.
The Ell is known to be *** first timers (and old timers too). It is very
misjudge the speed of the current and not get across the diagonal curling wave
that flushes you right into the hole. Many was the boater who wandered into the
curler and flushed out the bottom wondering just what had occurred. the most
interesting run was by Phillip, who managed to hit the curler sideways and it
flipped him upside down and pile drived him head down into the hole.
The next thing of interest is Rion's Eddy. This is a steep drop with a diagonal
ledge coming off the right side of the hole. This requires that you stay left,
come off the drop with some speed and take a couple of hard strokes as soon as
you punch the hole. If you are tenative, you get surfed down the diagonal into
infamous Rion's Eddy. The Canadian group was having a bit of problem with the
steep drops, not getting that last launching stroke in and landing on a brace
the hole. Well, several paid the price. The American side had it's share of
The Narrows is the last set of rapids of interest. Mostly just play wave and
eddy hopping rapids with a few nice drops at the end. About 2/3's of the way
down, there is a nice little slot move on river left that is a lot of fun and
away from this diagonal way/ pinning spot. It's a little sticky at the bottom,
you need to get decent speed and a good boof off the top to clear it. Most of
Kayakers followed me. The other Larry, paddling an EZ, drifted up to the edge,
hit the boof rock, turned sideway and dropped into the hole. Maytagged!! His
buddy's finally had to give him the nose of one of the kayaks to drag him out
the hole and it took a bit of effort to talk the boat into coming out. No
***, so no foul and we all continued down the river.
Two last rapids, Jake's Hole Rapid and O&W and then the paddle out of about
2 miles of flat but moving water.
Did the same trip the next day but took out at O&W. I'll never do that again!!
14 miles round trip that will take you at least an hour extra to drive in and
Then the takeout requires carrying up a set of very steep stairs. All that to
two miles of flat water in a very pretty canyon with the Dogwoods and Redbuds
in bloom. Short boats are ruining the Sport!!!
How did the Lynx perform? It tracks better than my old Jack Yak, in fact, it
as well as my kayak. It is also faster than my old IK and apparently faster
most of the short kayaks. It had came with this Crazy Creek style seat that was
very comfortable, but I felt that it interfered with more agressive strokes,
when running tight stuff or playing. Yes, IK's play very well once you learn to
your wave. Remember that they are the original flat bottom/planing hulls.
I replaced the seat with a simple thwart. This allows for better rotation and
lowers your center of gravity a bit. I had loaded it a bit heavier than I
normally would for a day trip and it handled the extra weight without problems
(about 30lbs). It handled the drops well and turns pretty quick. It hold a
ferry angle well.
I've found that IK's ferry better than most kayaks. The flat bottom and high
make them skim across the surface instead of dragging in the current, much like
ferrying a planing hull kayak. It stay's pretty dry on the floor with 30lbs of
my 200+ in it.
I picked the Lynx over the competitors for a couple of reasons. It is shorter
my second pick, a Thrillseeker and has better carrying capacity for
The Aire system makes them very easy to repair and tough enough so you very
seldom need to fix them. The real 'high performance" IK's like the Force don't
handle steep creeks as well. The Lynx is also a bit cheaper than the
and the Sotar IK. Easier to purchase in my area also.
A couple of personal perjudices. Get the air floor. It rolls up smaller and
more importantly, it handles rocks better. I feel that the foam floors deform
and stick to
rocks while the air floors tend to slide over them. Install the Thigh straps. I
can think of no earthly reason why you would attempt serious whitewater without
them. You have to control the tubes to get the best performance out of the
and you can't control the tubes without thigh straps. I like foot blocks in my
I haven't installed the pegs in the Lynx, but I just cut a piece of foam and
strapped it into the front. It works well and is easy to remove. Makes you
tighter in the boat
for better control. The inflatable thwart is an easy way to improve the
performance of the Lynx. It still give decent back support and allows for more
aggressive body rotation. BTW, the Aire Cargo hold are handy. I would get the
small one. I have
the 32" cargo hold and now I want to carry too much gear.