The dam release rivers are the only sure thing; Pigeon, Nantahala, Ocoee, Hiwassee. French Broad Section 9 is usually runnable most of the year, albeit at low water. But if you are lucky and can catch a 4-6 hour window right after a big thunderstorm or a good overnight rain the natural flow rivers might run; the Little and Greenbrier are just outside of Gatlinburg. Oconoluftee is close to Cherokee, Lower Big Creek is close to Cosby/Newport, if it really pours Lower Abrams creek is a real wilderness run that's easy but in the middle of nowhere. Then you have Tellico to the south, the Hepco section of the Pigeon to the east, Big Laurel and French Broad Section 9 around Hot Springs, NC.

A copy of this book ( ) , some local contacts, and a little (or a lot) of luck will help you get on the water during a Smokies summertime.
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BoaterTalk Snapdragon 1
Velcro on the straight part of the shaft and then slide them down over the bends.
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I recall many a bonfire at Ratliff Hole in the early 90s by Paul. He was large and exuberant in all things. We became good friends. He raced his open boat in the Russell Fork race, now the Lord of the Fork of race. Periodically he would call me to see what was up. Always loved to hear from him. About a dozen years ago I got a call from him about a legal case he was involved in. I guess I was one of his few lawyer friends he felt compelled to call. I have often told this funny story about Paul, many years ago when I represented him on a pot charge. He didn’t smoke pot, and he got the charge when a noise disturbance call led to the discovery of a bag of weed at the party at his home by the cops. I showed up at court with my stepdaughter, Dove, for “Take Your Daughter to Work” day, and went in to discuss with the prosecutor. I had learned how to dispose of those charges from Gatewood Galbreath, an attorney in Kentucky famous for promoting legalization and running for governor, with a guilty plea coupled with a motion to expunge upon payment of the fine and erased from the public record. I explained that Paul didn’t smoke, it wasn’t his, and why don’t we just do that. The prosecutor looked at me and Dove, and then agreed. I was so stoked! I went out to tell Paul and he responded that he would not do it. He was not pleading guilty to anything and he wanted a trial. I said: “Your kidding, right?” and he was emphatic that he was not. Of course I am thinking of all the work I am now going to have to do on this thing and I really couldn’t charge him because he could never afford my time and rate, so I just thought damn, and walked into the prosecutor’s office and said: “You are not going to believe it, but he is not willing to do that deal, I am so sorry”. He looked at me and Dove again and said: “screw it, I will just dismiss it”. So, we go in front of the judge, who acknowledged the secret weapon, Dove, age 8 and said so. Afterwards Paul thanked Dove for her help and said: “What do I owe you?” At that time, since even a quarter was big money to her, she shot for the sky and said: “$10”. He promptly paid her. That is my favorite “Take your Daughter to Work Day” story…
When I paddle a lot I tend to get elbow tendonitis, my answer has been to keep two paddles. One large blade slightly longer shaft (200cm Werner Powerhouse) for use when I'm paddling my creek boat on something where every stroke counts. For everything else, I use an AT Hercules 197cm. The Hercules has a slightly smaller blade, and I think the shaft on the Hercules has a tiny bit more flex than the Werner as well. I have to disagree with the comment above that carbon fiber shafts have more flex, that has not not been my experience unless the shaft was built as a "Flexi" model. A wood paddle also has a more flexible feel and is said to be easier on the joints, plus they are way cool. All my paddles are straight shaft.
Recreational releases are between Memorial Day and Labor Day, TU-WE-TH and SA, 12-6 PM

There are tons of non-scheduled releases on the Pigeon but the above are the guaranteed hours.
I had the same issues last summer when I was going about 4 times a week. I had a Carbon Geronimo 200cm I was using, I picked up a Glass Hercules 197cm and started using it. Had some issues getting used to it at first but learned how to get almost the same results as with the bigger blade. Now I use the Hercules for everyday runs like the Pigeon or Ocoee and just pull out the Geronimo for when I think I might need something with a little more ooomph. YMMV.
Probably 1.5-2.8. Using Little minus 1.3' and 1.5' as a minimum you probably won't get skunked. (Assuming widespread rainfall, always check to see where it fell.) Obviously people run it quite a bit higher, but once it passes 2.5 I started backing out.
Because they are using the Little River gauge for Greenbrier; which IMO is a better indicator than the actual Greenbrier gauge. Looks like they are probably using a correlation of Little River minus 1.1' equals bridge gauge. I have used this as a rough correlation for years but throw in a margin of error of +/- .2'. My formula was always Little River minus 1.1' equals Bridge gauge +/- .2'.

I have never liked the TVA Greenbrier gauge because of it's distance from the actual run. TVA's gauge is located in Sevierville.
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BoaterTalk Mamba 1
The Mamba will take you as far as you want to go in WW, the Katana will really start to show its deficiences in Class III and above. Get the Mamba and start saving for a touring boat, the Katana also shows its deficiences on flatwater if you put it up against a touring boat. Then you're gonna want to start saving for a play boat, and a slice boat, and a long boat, and a creeker, and...........
and some extra water for those unexpected overnighters.
Enquireing minds and all.
Updated their personal info
Seymour, TN
Male Too Short
Too fat
Boats I paddle: Kayak-Dagger Nomad L, Mamba 8.6 & Green Boat, LiquidLogic Freeride 67, OC-Mohawk Probe 14 Triple Saddle, SUP-Corran Addison Streetfighter
First Season: 2006
Favorite Class: III
Favorite Runs: Whatever has water in it when I can be there, my go to free flow runs are Little River, Greenbrier, Lower Big Creek, Big Laurel & Tellico. Summertime I can be found on the Pigeon weeknights and the Ocoee weekends.
Where I have paddled (in order):
French Broad-Del Rio-Bridgeport,
French Broad-Sec. 9,
Upper Pigeon,
Middle Ocoee,
Tellico-below Jared's Knee,
Little River-Elbow-Y,
Little River-Elkmont-Metcalf Bottoms,
North River,
Middle Fork Little Pigeon (Greenbrier)-Below Hwy 321,
Lower Abram's Creek,
Daddy's/Obed/Emory-Devil's Breakfast Table to Nemo,
Treemont-Below 1st one lane bridge,
Little River-Sinks-Elbow,
Middle Fork Little Pigeon (Greenbrier)-Confluence to Hwy 321,
Upper Ocoee,
Clear Creek-Lilly to Nemo,
Big Laurel,
Lower Big Creek,
Hiwassee Dries,
Clear Fork,
Big South Fork,
Daddy's Creek (Canyon to DBT),
Crab Orchard,
Clear Creek-Jett to Lilly,
Upper Oconoluftee,
Tuckaseegee Gorge,
Upper Nantahala,
Wilson Creek,
Pound River,
Upper Russell Fork,
Lower Russell Fork,
Lower Lower West Prong Little Pigeon River,
West Prong Little River,
Whitetop Laurel,
Lower Whites Creek,
Lower Crooked Fork,
Lower Gauley 865-207-9607
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yes, you can learn to kayak in a creek boat. They're comfortable and largely forgiving, and because of that you don't necessarily need to have stellar technique to get down the river in one piece. As suggested, this may lead to newer paddlers getting bored, or overconfident, and making the step to something a bit more difficult - without much river running experience. Before you know it you're pinned in the middle of nowhere on some class IV without ever knowing what a class II or III pin feels like. Much less what to do about it.

A boat with harder chines, or one without a displacement hull, are, in my experience, much easier to teach/be taught fundamentals. Concepts like which way to lean are immediately apparent. Less volume will keep easier runs more entertaining for longer. This time-in-boat builds the paddlers' experience. I think this experience is often overlooked - things like self rescue, and getting your buddies out of tricky situations, how to throw a rope, and what to do when someone grabs the rope you threw. Smaller, less 'creeky' boats are also easier to convey strokes and concepts like edge control. They're usually narrower than creek boats too which makes dialing in a nice vertical forward stroke easier.

I learned to paddle in a Wavesport EZ, and I stayed in that boat through many class IV runs. I didn't get a creek boat until I needed one. But times change. I don't think that's what the kids are doing these days.

Sorry for the novel. Just my .02 cents, hope it helps
So I'm looking at getting a lower volume slicey river running boat, basically something to have fun with on the Ocoee/Pigeon that is not a real playboat. I'm 220 lbs so I'm looking at larger sizes.

I've paddled an Axiom 9.0 but I thought it was a tank although it was a front surfing machine and I should look at an 8.5. I paddled a FunRuner 70 a few years ago and thought it was fun but I was 20 lbs lighter then too so I'm worried about the volume being enough now. The Loki L has the least volume but I've heard nothing but good things about it.

So if anyone has any experience with a couple or 3 of these boats I would love to hear what you have to say.
And not just by me.
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BoaterTalk Actually,
the rapid just below the bridge on the Middle section is called Ledges. Not to be confused with the whole 2 mile section above it called the Ledges.
I have an XL Icon (rear zip). No problems at all.
IMO, there is no substitute for seat time. Whether you are working the river hard or just floating down you are always gaining just a little better feel for kayaking. I don't think I have gone a full week without getting a run in somewhere since spring.

See you on the Ocoee this weekend?
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Good weather, good water and good peeps! Hope AW raised a boat load of money, and more importantly, memberships. Join AW!
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BoaterTalk Yes.
Met him at GFest. You are correct he is 9. He kicks ass at Jenga and rides a mean unicycle.
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Last year he was corrupted by the hudlums and sinners partying at the biggest party in west Virginia. This year he is a different man. Gents watch your ladies.

Also, to the thrower of the beer last year. . .
This year during the jackson gear toss out, security will be poised and ready to skeet shoot any beers that may be thrown at the jackson family or affiliates. If you are thinking about naty-pulting a watery beer to your buddy at the party, think twice because it could be mistaken and turned into pure gold mist. Wouldn't want that to happen
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No one makes whitewater boats out of wood but you can still get a Grumman aluminum canoe with a shoe keel (the original whitewater canoe) if you are a masochist.