Multi-day paddling is quite possibly my favorite way to spend time on the river. Take the sheer joy of paddling through a beautiful place, the excitement and bliss attained from hitting your moves, and add in the joys of backpacking, minus the sore back and blisters, and you start to get the idea. Ever wonder what your favorite river looks like at night? Or how it feels to experience the coming and going of light, wildlife, and a new day from a beach halfway down a remote wilderness river? What about the simple pleasure of waking on the side of a river to the promising dawn light, knowing all you have to do is paddle to your next campsite, where a warm fire and camaraderie will ensure a proper close to another memorable day on the river?


If the idea of an overnighter tickles your fancy, but you would prefer to have a little guidance from some of the most experienced overnight paddlers in the area, join us on an overnight paddling clinic designed to both instruct clients on the basics of everything involved, from equipment to techniques, as well as to simply share some of the best in overnight experiences that the south has to offer - The Obed and Big South Fork river systems.





We're offering 2 trips in the 2019-2020 season.  Trips are usually 3 days in duration - it's worth taking a Friday off for!  If a group just wants to do one night, we can do Sat/Sun though.  Here are the dates:


Dec 13-15 - CLASS II

Jan 17-19 - CLASS III



These prices are as low as we can get them.  This is a group-oriented clinic.  2 people is the minimum number of participants and 10 people is the maximum.  

                                                                             3-Day Trip                             2-day trip

                                                                           $300/person                       $250/person



Rockgarden - the BIG one on the Obed Canyon!

Rockgarden - the BIG one on the Obed Canyon!

difficulty of whitewater/venue selection

Based on water levels and weather conditions, we will choose the best section to conduct the clinic.  Options include DBT to Nemo on the Obed River, the 18-mile Obed (which includes Daddy's Creek), the Upper Obed through the Obed Canyon, the Clear Creek Overnighter, Big South Fork Gorge, the Lower Big South Fork (27 miles) and the Clear Fork.  These sections range from Class I-II to Class III+.  Choice of difficulty will partly depend on water levels and group preference.  If the water is lower, Class II may be all that is available, whereas if the water is higher, plenty of options will abound.  While it is possible that a raft may be present on any given trip, the purpose of the clinic is to effectively train folks on how to live out of their kayak/canoe.  In this case, participants need the requisite equipment and skill to paddle Class II-III whitewater with a splash of Class III+, all the while having an extra 20-30 lbs in their boat (this means a reliable roll).  Comfort on the Obed, Big South Fork, Pigeon, French Broad and Nolichucky is ideal.  An overnighter isn't the time to step it up, so please be forthright with your abilities.  

If the group elects to stick to Class II or less, this can be accommodated as well - there are some fantastic runs of this difficulty. Competence on the Hiwassee, Nantahala, Cartecay, Elkhorn Creek, Lower Green is recommended.  If this isn't you, please reach out and I'll be happy to custom-tailor a trip to your needs.


required equipment

We're backpacking out of our kayaks!  Our kayak can hold a little less than a full-size backpack.  If you're bringing an open boat you can hold more, but if it's an appropriate whitewater canoe, space is still limited.  What this means is that:

a)  You're going to need quality, ultralight gear for winter camping, cooking, eating, shelter, bedding, clothing, etc.  

b)  As that stuff is pricey, we couldn't possibly provide it for everyone

c)  If you're not already a backpacker, you're going to spend more on the gear than the trip cost!

Ahhh, the simple life!

Ahhh, the simple life!

This is not convenient, but it is the truth.  And while I don't want to discourage all the interested parties from participating, I do want to make sure that everyone knows what they're getting into, and has as memorable of a time as possible.  Having the right gear, knowing how to use it, and being adaptive is what it takes to do well in the wilderness night after night, all the while experiencing the wonders these excursions afford with a smile.  We can help with the latter, but you'll need to show up with the kit.  I'm happy to consult on purchases, and once folks are committed, I'll share more info on what's needed.  However, here is a list of a few of the pricier items you'll need, so you can start shopping or asking favors:

  • ultralight (1-3 lbs) compact sleeping bag of 20-30 degree rating

  • ultralight compact sleeping pad with decent warmth rating ( around l lb)

  • ultralight compact (are you getting the theme here?) shelter system

  • appropriate stove/cookwear

  • safe/effective water treatment system

  • warm dry clothing - synthetics/down, - NO COTTON!

  • drybags - Watershed or bust! - I like Chattooga's, an Ocoee, and a Salmon or Futa Stow Float. Make sure it all fits in them, and them in the boat as well!

  • boat - you'll need a good solid creekboat or longboat.


Food - please no MRE's!  Many folks will just go with Freeze-dried backpacker varieties like Mountain House, Backpackers Pantry, and others, but you can make similar things for much less cost, that taste better.  Instant Pasta or Rice, with spices and veggies/meats of your choice, and you have a great dinner. hint: a little butter and powdered milk can go a long way with these.  Think light and energetic on lunch -  cured meats, cheese, nuts, dried fruit, crackers, bagels, energy bars. Oatmeal is usually common for breakfast due to it's light weight and limited amount of bites possible before gagolibrium is reached.  Spruce it up with nuts, fruit, and if you're a carnivore, a little pre-cooked sausage or bacon is nice on the side.  Hot drinks are a boost!  Coffee, cider, tea, whatever you like, and a thermos with hot water. Re-packaging is key, and weight is your enemy!  Plan each meal, and bring just a little extra.  Don't try new recipes in the field.  Do a few at home weeks prior to ensure you have it down and that you like them.  

Finally, this is not an all inclusive commercial rafting trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon.  You're gonna support yourself.  It's a little more work, but oh the satisfaction!  


Gearing up at Nemo Bridge

Gearing up at Nemo Bridge

General Itinerary/Clinic Outline

In the weeks prior to the trip, I'll confer with the group to ensure everyone has what they need, and a plan for how it will work with their "system."  As the date becomes imminent, we'll decide on a destination and shore up logistics/meet times.  Due to the exposure of a winter overnighter, anyone who shows up with something less than what is required will be turned away.  We'll do our very best to see that you're prepared for this trip and have what you need, so make sure you follow through on preparations.  We'll have a check-out on everyone's gear, and help with packing.  Try to have it all ready when you leave the house if possible.  If everyone shows up with a pile of stuff and they haven't done any practice pack-sessions and still have re-packaging to do, and still haven't decided whether to bring this and that, .... you can see that a situation like that can add several hours to a departure.   Remember, we're here to help, so fire away with questions.

We will have a shuttle service get our cars to the take-out to ease the end of trip blues of having to retrieve cars.  Carpooling would be great for any members of the group that can make it work.  After unloading at the put-in, drivers will drop cars at the take-out.  At the end of the trip, we just have to load up and drive home.  

Once on the water, our self-support voyage into the wilds of canyon-country begins!  This isn't a kayak instruction program, but we'll be happy to give tips when solicited.  Downstream progress will be the focus, as the best way to have a comfortable night at camp is to have plenty of daylight to get situated.  Not to mention there will be some opportunities for side-hikes and exploration (a crucial part of the fun) at certain camps.  At camp we'll help in any way we can in site selection, set-up, and equipment quirks, and will do instructional modules on the various equipment and processes that will comprise our time at camp.  I fully expect that students will be able to add to the conversation, so bring your knowledge to the table!

We'll have a set time that we need to be out of camp each morning, and from experience I can tell you that it will take a bit longer (maybe double the time or more) to pack everything up as it did to unload it.  

At the end of the trip we'll have a debriefing and get impressions of how the trip went, and what everyone learned.  


If you want to join one of the three trips this season, fill out the application form below.  Due to lots of interest in the paddling community for this trip, full payment will be required at least 2 weeks prior to your trip to officially reserve your spot.  This helps us in planning, and ensures that those who are the most fired up about the trips have a chance to put their boat into the mix.  All reasonable circumstances will be considered in the event you might have to back out, and of course if the trip cancels the deposit is refunded.  Filling out the fields below will help us build a cohesive group with similar goals for each trip.


Name *
Dates Selection *
Indicate all dates you are available.
Duration Preference
one or both, based on flexibility
Difficulty Preference *
Choose one or both, depending on your ability and flexibility.
Gear/Overnight Experience *
Choose the statement that best describes your experience and preparedness.