Paddle Bob

Tackling the Dragon in an F-150

truck_kayak.jpgI finally broke down and purchased a Yakima rack system for my truck so I can transport my kayak. Paddling Loudon is getting a bit dull.

I bought Q Towers for the cab and the Outdoorsman 3oo system for the bed of the truck. Initially, I had the bed rack positioned as far back as I could get it, but when I loaded the kayak, the Mako saddles were on a very thin part of the boat and it just didn’t feel right. I moved the bed rack as far forward toward the cab as I could, and that did the trick. I strapped the yak in the saddles, tied down the bow and stern and set off for Fontana Lake in North Carolina.

To get to Fontana, I had to take 129 south, which becomes the infamous Dragon, where motorcyclists go to test their skills on an 11-mile stretch of road packed with 318 crazy curves. I generally hate that road. Most of the bikes are great, but I’ve had a few instances where I’ve hit a hairpin turn to see a crotch rocket in my lane trying not to become my new hood ornament. On this trip, that wasn’t a problem. I went early enough where I didn’t encounter much traffic on the way over, and on the way home, everyone was playing nicely and staying in their lane, though a few of those guys were going insanely fast. And the kayak stayed firmly in place as I navigated the serpentine highway.

I decided to put in at Cable Cove when I reached Fontana. There’s a campground there and a basic boat ramp. As soon as I set out, I was astounded by how beautiful Fontana is. It’s bordered on one side by Smoky Mountain National Park and on the southern shore by Nantahala National Forest. I paddled west, intending to do a large loop that ultimately would bring me back to Cable Cove. I wanted to stop somewhere along the way, but the shore was very steep and rocky. I didn’t find a decent place to land until I was almost back to Cable Cove. There’s a primitive campground just east of the cove where I stopped to take a break.

In all, I paddled about 11 miles and hope to go back there to camp for a few days so I can explore more of the lake. It’s refreshing to paddle a lake with no development along the shoreline, just giant pine trees, rocks and wildlife.

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