Tennessee River and Columbia River Gorges

Paddler’s Paradises: Tennessee River and Columbia River Gorges

Not all river gorges are made alike.

Some are slim, snake by way of the mountains in a elegant, sinuous style, whereas different are extensive, deep, and fewer curvy and may look as tough because the ocean.

Two of them, at the very least in North America, are paddling meccas.

And whereas they share that, plus a couple of different similarities, the place paddling is worried they couldn’t be extra totally different.

The Tennessee River Gorge

It is likely to be tempting to think about the Tennessee River because the quintessential Southern river, meandering by way of Appalachia, and internet hosting paddlewheel riverboats with a sure gentility that harkens again to a different period. However when you paddle Chattajack, that impression can be deceiving. Very deceiving.

The Tennessee River Gorge is house to some significantly fierce wind.  Solely drawback is, you’re by no means fairly positive simply the place that wind would possibly discover you.  And, due to the gorge’s curvature, when you spherical the subsequent bend, you can get a respite, or the wind might shift and both slam you head on or broadside you with hellacious cross chop.  That’s what makes paddling in that gorge a problem. That and the actual fact you by no means know the way quick the present is likely to be, provided that releases from the upriver dam simply above Chattanooga are dictated by rainfall and different unpredictable elements.

What’s predictable the place the Tennessee River Gorge is worried, is its pure magnificence. Whether or not you’re looking at it from water stage or from atop Sign Mountain, it’s breathtaking.

As a leaping off level to exploring this japanese gorge, Chattanooga is a unbelievable, mid-sized metropolis which presents outside fans of any ilk a number of selections in relation to journey.  Along with paddling and being the house of the 32-mile Chattajack race, Chattanooga and its close by environs provide nice locations to hike, climb, and cycle (each street and mountain.)

Downtown Chattanooga has a unbelievable aquarium that focuses on native freshwater species, nice eating places and low hangouts, and naturally, you possibly can go to the Moon Pie manufacturing facility and get your repair of a basic southern snack deal with.

The Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge shares some similarities with its Southern cousin, particularly in relation to aesthetics and the presence of wind, and even the occasional paddlewheeler.   However that’s the place the comparability stops.

This western gorge is a downwinder’s paradise. Due to the contours of the deep ravine, particularly within the part close to the city of Hood River, the wind whips straight upstream, funneled by the partitions of the gorge. And, for probably the most half, this sample is fairly constant.  It typically will blow in the wrong way, and as wind is wont to do, it could slack off every so often. However, identical to the tradewinds off the coast of Maui, the wind patterns within the Columbia River Gorge are constant sufficient to make this a downwinder’s dream.

Whereas the prevailing wind pushes up the gorge, the water flows, as one would anticipate, downstream, in the wrong way.  That mixes to boost bumps that extra resemble the downwinding floor circumstances on the Kihei aspect of Maui relatively than Maliko on the North Shore.  Shorter intervals between bumps, however quick, oh so quick. It’s loopy to appreciate if you downwind on the Columbia, you’re really flying upstream, in opposition to the present.  The Columbia gives a bit of border between Oregon and Washington, and the present is stronger on the Washington aspect of the Gorge.  Subsequently, the bumps on the left aspect of the gorge as you paddle towards Hood River are often greater, and deeper.  On a day when the wind has taken a breather, it could be virtually flat on the Oregon aspect, however bumps are nonetheless pumping throughout the river.  That doesn’t reduce the elevated  technical side of that a part of the run, or the hazard, as the present continues to be flowing quick and robust and with out the help of the wind, you may be slogging it, eventhough there seems to be bumps to trip.

This mix of wind and present makes the Columbia something however a lazy, quiet, calm river, and locals right here will speak to you of creating a respectful relationship together with her. Full-sized Sort II PFDs are extra the norm right here versus waistbelt PFDs. And leashes, leashes, leashes.

The gorge is house to a number of main races, together with the Gorge Downwind Champs and the Gorge Paddle Problem.

The city of Hood River is significantly smaller than Chattanooga however it isn’t missing for non-paddling actions.  Hood River has lengthy been a windsurfing mecca, if not THE mecca and this can be very widespread with kite boarders and foilers as nicely. Mountaineering, mountain biking, street biking and snowboarding/snowboarding are all native choices.  With a myriad of native breweries, together with ciders and kombuchas, and nice eating places, it’s an excellent trip vacation spot.

Whereas the experiences you may need in every of those wonderful gorges will possible be vastly totally different,  when you paddle and love the outside, it’s a must to put each in your Should Go to listing!

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