After seeing the high on Saturday was only gonna be 85 it didn’t take much to decide that this weekend’s post on TheDoWhat.com was going to involve some water. It did take some missed phone calls and a little bit of luck but were finally able to decide on a kayak trip down the Flint River with North Alabama Canoe & Kayak or NACK , just a 5 or 10 minute drive east of downtown Huntsville (GOOGLE MAP LINK). On Saturdays the boats are first come first serve, but after watching several groups come and go without having to wait very long, I don’t think that factor really slowed anything down. We only waited about 20 or 30 minutes for our boats as well as the rest of our group to arrive. But, I’m assuming some weekends are busier than others so take that for what it’s worth.
Around the Huntsville area there’s a few main waterways; The Flint River, the Elk River (mainly in TN), The Paint Rock River and The Tennessee River. But oddly enough there’s very few services that offer trips up and down these rivers. Most of the time you’ve got to have your own equipment, GPS and ride home. NACK offers relief in these areas. There you can rent your boat (canoe or kayak), paddle and personal floatation device as well as your drop-off & pickup, which makes the trip very easy and painless. Drinks, food and other such amenities are not provided and I do recommend bringing some water and an energy bar or something just incase.
Now the Flint River is fairly slow-moving and calm, especially after such a dry summer. There was little trouble finding the correct route except for a slew that snuck up on a couple of the more curious members of our group which caused a half hour delay waiting on them to paddle back upstream to the main river to catch up with the group. Also, there are a few patches of very small rapids. I call them rapids only because that’s the only word I could come up with to describe ripples that moved slightly faster than usual. I’m no expert on the subject but I’d say they were probably class “0″ or “-1″, but fun nonetheless. Around the area after these rapids were some interesting currents that lead to some folks flipping their kayaks, losing sunglasses, getting stuck in trees and bouncing against random objects. If you’ve never paddled while dying laughing, this will be a great experience for you.
About halfway through the trip, a rope swing was spotted. Now this swing was not put there by NACK, it’s not affiliated with NACK and they’re not responsible for what happens involving any such articles of shenanigans you might find randomly placed up and down the river. Now, having said that, we spent a good 45 minutes jumping off of this swing and swimming across the river around this little area. The four jumps I included in the video were the tip of the iceberg when it came to how much fun we had just at this spot alone. Just like my Skyline WMA Shooting Range posts, I may have to include a “part 2″ just to show some of the funny outtakes.
The crutch of our society is and will always be technology. Trips like these always seem to make my love of the outdoors and technology go against each other in a weird battle of nature, water to be more specific, versus electronics. Most of the time due to lack of preparation, water wins. Now I know there are some of you reading this thinking: “Bobby D. why don’t you just leave your phone in the truck? Who are you calling on the river?”. You people sicken me. Not really, but how else am I going to shoot video, take pics and post videos directly to Twitter of Francisco jumping head first off a rope swing if I don’t have some electronics with me? This time electronics won with the help of a transparent waterproof case that allowed me to shoot video without worry. I don’t know what I would’ve done had I dropped into any deep water because I don’t think it floats, but I was at least safe if I went in the drink with it tucked away in the pocket of my shorts.
When you get about 20 minutes from the end of your trip, you’ll reach a point where you have to call back to NACK headquarters and tell them you’re almost finished so they can come and pick you up. Now here’s where the no guide deal clashes with the crutch of technology and makes it essential to have at least one phone on the trip. I found this assumption that at least one person would have a phone to be a little odd and found it even odder that it was up to us to call for pick up. However, NACK does provide a “dry box” to each group for storage of phones, wallets, cameras and other electronics. Our group did not get a dry box because we didn’t request one but this did not pose a problem because I had my phone sealed up & ready to rock at any given moment be it for video, pics or calling the chopper for extraction.
When you arrive back at the pickup spot your boats are loaded up and you’re shuttled back to NACK and your trip is over. Now you’re going to be wet and your clothes are going to smell like the river, so bring a FULL change of clothes. Unlike the larger whitewater guide services near the Ocoee, there are no showers available, so bring body spray or plan on going home and showering before going out to eat after this trip.
I think NACK is probably one of best things going around here as far as outdoor adventure services go. This trip was so fun that it was stated by a couple of guys in my group that it’s only a matter of time before we all had our own kayaks. Fortunately NACK also offers the shuttle service for people who bring their own boats so you don’t have to worry about parking your own vehicle in the middle of nowhere for hours at a time.
Now do yourself a favor, check the weekend weather forecast, check out the NACK website for details and float the Flint.