This Side of Heaven

Trip Start Mar 07, 1997
Trip End Dec 25, 1998

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Friday, September 18, 1998

Go with me? We're tying up the last strings of summer in the prettiest valley this side of heaven. I've found the perfect outing for families of every age, or even grouchy old loners. For in that valley is a river named Sequatchie, and we are going to paddle it.

Canoes on a post advertising "gentle thrills" dot the area within a hundred miles of the Pilkington's place, which is where we'll begin our adventure. For a reasonable fee, based on length of trip we choose, and number of big and little people traveling, we get a canoe, vests, and paddles. Plus a shuttle ride back to our car.

And the briefing is free, if you've never canoed before. After learning the basic strokes, you'll be urged to love the water, not fear it. If you fall out, get back up! The Sequatchie is a forgiving stream, with no rapids or tricks, a good spot for kids to learn how to read a river.

"This is the best time of year to be on the river," Scott Pilkington promised. "Fall is coming but the water is still warm, so it doesn't matter if you get wet. The water level is down, and you may have to lift the canoe over a few shallow spots, but the kids love splashing and wading."

The Sequatchie is peaceful, but entertaining too. Stop at the island to hunt for arrowheads. Jump off at the gravel bar and let the kids skip rocks. Watch for wildlife. You're liable to see ducks and deer, otters and raccoon.

Have you ever seen a mink-slide? The little critters make mud-paths down the riverbank and zip into the water headfirst, feet in the air, like a kid on the playground. This trip will send you home smiling, I promise. See you there.

Canoe the Sequatchie, Dunlap, Tennessee
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