Greetings everyone! This past Saturday was our 6th HTTD of the season and was called Survival Boater X on the Stones River at Harker’s Crossing. We all met that morning at Harker’s Crossing, at 10am.
It took a little while to get everyone together for the event, so by 11am we were heating up. We had 10 participants in all, including two that drove more than three hours to be there! Big thanks for that! We divided up in half, forming two teams. One was the racing team and one was the defending team.
We had the racing team go upstream and wait for the start of the race, while we “prepared our defense”. I set up smoke bombs all along the river, hoping to limit visibility in the rapid, but i screwed up and put them downwind of where the smoke needed to be. The multicolored smoke just blinded us, and not the racers. They came through and we jumped on them, trying to grab their boats and yank them back. I got two out of three racers but BJ “Bojangle” Graham managed to slip by and win first place in his heat.
Next up was my heat, all four of us went to the top and let the other team” prepare their defense.” They sounded the “GO!” and we all took off barreling down the Class 2 racecourse on the Stones River. I rounded the corner and saw Bojangle waiting for me at the bottom of the rapid. I knew he was gunning for me by the look on his face.
So, I said the heck with it and just paddled straight at him, hoping to ram him and knock him over. But my attack was feinted, he stopped me butt cold. He held on to the back of my boat and caused me to finish dead last. Chris Gibson finished first in our heat. But Bojangle must’ve known I’d have my revenge, as he and Chris Gibson prepared to race the “Gauntlet” for the final show down.
Former Army Ranger and Special Forces Soldier, Jason Crisel, helped us prepare the ultimate defense, about which I will now tell you. Jason slid into the water in an eddy behind a rock as sneakily as a gator stalking his prey. There was no way they could’ve seen him as he pulled a Rambo, going underwater and breathing through a reed.
So, I followed suit and hid in an eddy just below him, covering my self with mud so they couldn’t spot me with their thermal trackers. The only thing you could see was my eyeballs. Oh man, I just slipped into the movie, Predator. Sorry! My spot was crucial, because there was only one navigable passage and just below it was a big rock just under the surface of the water. It was a strategic vantage point, allowing me to “beach” at least one racer indefinitely.
Scotter James and Jim Reynolds had a rope stretched out across the top chute of the rapid so anyone coming through would have to duck it. then at the bottom of the rapid awaited 4 more defenders ready to strike! The course was only about 50 yards long, but packed a big punch and was nearly impenetrable with the defense we set up.
I sounded 2 sharp whistle blasts, signaling the racers to start the race! I watched as they came around the bend, and flinched big time when Jason came up out of the water leaping at them like a starving tiger ready to eat his prey! He got ahold of Chris’ boat, holding him back a bit and making him roll, while Bojangle shot out forward, but he wasn’t going far, as soon as he entered the passage, I stood up, grabbed his boat and beached him on the rock! I felt something brush my backside, so i turned to find Chris trying to sneak by. No way Jose! while still keeping a hand on Bojangle’s boat, I reached out and grabbed the back of Chris’ boat, yanking him backward. He was paddling hard to get away. So hard, that I cught the powerface of a paddle across my face! I knew I couldn’t hold on much longer, so I reached out to both boats and popped off their skirts, at this point I pushed down on the sides of their boats, filling them with water.
They finally broke free from my grasp and barreled off toward the bottom, only to find Jim and Scotter waiting for them with a nice game of throwrope limbo. Both paddlers had to duck the rope, but when they leaned out, their boats filled with even more water! At the bottom they were doused with water by the defenders at the bottom, causing confusion with the already confused racers. At the bottom, Chris got held up, while Bojangle Graham sprinted for the victory! Great job BJ!
After the race, we all performed a river cleanup, removing plastic from strainers and picking up bottles and cans. Back at the top, we raffled off some cool swag from our most excellent sponsors listed at the bottom of this post!
Once the event was over, Jim Reynolds invited us back to his house for The Official Nashville World Kayak HTTD Beach Party. On his property he has a natural spring that has super clean water, is super deep, and super cold! We all had drinks, grilled out, swam, and practiced rolling out there, staying till almost eight at night! I was even able to catch a good nap in my ENO hammock! Big thanks to Jim Reynolds for having us over. So stay tuned for our next HTTD, the Safety Rodeo coming soon!