Kayaking Thunderhead Prong

Watching Them Kayak Thunderhead Prong and Middle Prong

by Rachelle Siegrist

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Sometimes everything happens and falls into place just as you had hoped for, creating near perfect circumstances, and such was the case this past week here in the Smoky Mountains! Inches of recent rainfall and unbelievably mild temperatures created several perfect days for seasoned kayakers to get out and enjoy great amounts of whitewater!  Unfortunately Wes and I don’t have the right type of kayaks nor the equipment necessary to enjoy rougher parts of the river, but if you can’t join them . . . just watch them . . . it’s almost as much fun!

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So that’s exactly what we did last Sunday afternoon, while we hiked and explored up in the Tremont region of our beloved Smokies.  I couldn’t believe I was able to wear shorts . . . in December, as we walked through the woods finding interesting fungi and great little nooks and crannies along the river, which were great locations to drop a fly in!  It was tremendously peaceful and relaxing walking about, the sounds of birdsong and running water filling the air.  Then just has we had left an interesting metal footbridge, 3 guys carrying kayaks were coming up the trail, so I asked them where they were putting in.

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Imagine my sheer delight when they said “Up here at the bridge”!  So with camera ready I found a perfect perch to watch them from, and was so thrilled one would’ve thought I was actually the one getting to kayak down Thunderhead Prong!  The first one came around the bend and I snapped away as he dropped down the thundering cascades, followed by his two buddies.

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The thunderous roar of the water was so loud we could hardly hear each other talk, adding to the excitement of it all!  I snapped away and kept yelling for Wes to “Watch this one!” as they went along. Then they came to a section which narrowed between large boulders, and we gasped as one actually hit the side of his head on a rock!  Within seconds he had given his buddy the “thumbs up – I’m okay” sign and onward they went!

They went from one cascade to the next going underwater at the bottom of most of them, then immediately popping up and moving on!  It was truly exhilarating watching them in this intense real life adventure!

I kept running up ahead, along the river’s edge, to be sure I could continue watching and photographing them, with each section bringing new thrills!

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Sunlight streaming through the canopy above, falling across and highlighting sections of the whitewater, added to the sheer beauty of the afternoon hike, making it appear surreal at times!

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I could just imagine the adventures that my pink kayak, the PPP, and I could have there . . . that is if either of us were built for it!  Soon Wes and I found ourselves back where our adventure had started earlier that afternoon, and I still couldn’t believe the blessing of our impeccable timing of meeting those kayakers . . . at the right place at the right time!


~ Currently On and Fresh Off the Easel ~

I’m delighted to share one of my latest paintings of a gorgeous Boykin Spaniel named Colt.  His gracious owner brought him back, after an afternoon of hunting, by the Thomasville Cultural Arts Center for me to photograph while  we were at the Plantation Wildlife Art Festival in November.

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“Lil’ Swamp Poodle” by Rachelle

I also finished a landscape painting of Cades Cove blanketed in snow.  Sadly this beautiful old barn was left to fall down and no longer exists.  We certainly feel blessed to have seen many of these historical beauties while they were still standing and are delighted to be able to preserve them in paintings!

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“Cades Cove in Winter” by Rachelle

Wes finished his painting of a female Rufus Hummingbird, which we photographed while visiting dear friends Bob and Diane’s beautiful home in Berthoud, CO.

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“Rufus Hummingbird with Salvia” by Wes

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Until next time . . .

~ Rachelle

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