Use Your Fitness
It’s springtime here in the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina the place that I call home. There are so many adventures to be had in the Pisgah National Forest this summer, it’s time to use the fitness I built up over last winter to get out and play. At the McHone household we are learning to navigate the challenges of juggling a growing business and family time. When my friend Brandt called me up for a last minute overnight adventure I knew that spending the night on an island on the French Broad River was exactly what I needed for a little reset. On my bike ride home from the gym I started my mental checklist of what this quick overnight adventure would require.
Gear: NRS SUP board, paddle, pump(my SUP is inflatable), 2 dry bags, a change of clothes, 2 silk sleeping liners, Outdoor Research Bivvy, inflatable pillow, Thermarest Sleeping Pad, headlamp and toiletries.
Time to execute, I pre inflated the paddle board and scrambled around the house locating the appropriate overnight essentials, then I stuffed everything into the two dry bags. From our house the pull off that I will be parking at for the night is only 25 minutes away. I listented to some honkey tonk while I driving along the river until arriving at the pull off around 7:30pm which gave me ample time to paddle to the island before the sun set. This being a solo mission meant that I had to tote all of my gear down to the river and secure everything to the SUP. I carried the bags in one hand with the sleeping pad under my left arm and the paddle board and paddle in my right hand. The few hundred feet from the minivan to the river made me already start to think about what the trip back to the van would be like in the morning.
The water was moving swift but I was off on a smooth start. I’m not a river pro by no means but I do love a self powered adventure that has a little challenge. Most of the lines I picked were smooth but I had a few moments that I had to kneel down and hold on as the river kept me humble. With in 15 minutes I was pulling up around the north beach where Brandt had built a fire and was doing some catfishin. We caught up while I set up my bivvy with sleeping pad and silk liners. It’s so nice to be able to safely pack so light now that the temps are well above freezing. The weather this time of year in the mountains can be a little unpredictable with spontaneous rain showers so the light weight waterproof bivvy was all that I needed for shelter. Brand was using just a hammock and declared multiple times that there was “no chance of rain”, words that would bite him the next morning but at least there was no rain through the night.
This trip happened to be on the eve of a full moon so Brandt and I took full advantage of the brightly lit night and paddled up the backside of the island for more driftwood. My personal trainer mind kept thinking of how challenging and ridiculous a trip like this would be without a regular strength and conditioning regimen. Paddling against the current on the backside of the island took all that I had to make it to the beach on the other end. The record rainfall this past couple of months left the far end of the island fully loaded with driftwood. Brandt and I loaded up our vessels with wood before making our way back to base camp on the other side of the island. We cooked up some veggie dogs and caught up on life and past adventures while watching the cat-line in the moonlight. I had clients starting at 6am the next morning so we didn’t stay up too much longer before crashing out for the night.
I set my alarm for 4am so that I would have ample time to make it back to the minivan and then a 30 minute drive to the gym. Somehow I was wide awake around 3:30am, the moon had gone down over the next ridge giving me little extra light for my trip to shore. These are the exciting moments. Laying there feeling the excitement of what I was about to take on just to get back to the minivan. It was only a couple hundred yards to get to shore but the water was moving fast and I was navigating with less than ideal light from a small headlamp. Luckily the paddle across wasn’t nearly as bad as my last trip off the Island in the rain and lightning. Once on the river bank the next task was scrambling up a 30 foot embankment while pulling a 12 foot SUP that has around 20lbs of gear strapped to it including the paddle. Once up to the road I had to walk almost a mile carrying the SUP under my arm while holding on to the center handle. This became very taxing due to the weight of the gear strapped to the board so I alternated carrying arms every time my grip started to fail on one side. I continued to switching back and forth until I made it to the minivan. Normally I would strap the board back to the top of the van but it was time to head to work. My morning adventure was complete I released the air nozzle and threw the SUP and gear into the mini. Next stop coffee.