Welcome to the world of self-shuttle. This page is intended to prepare you for my self-shuttle clinic, so that you have all the stuff you need, and understand what you are getting into! Being able to shuttle your paddling trip under your own power is very satisfying, and instills a sense of self-reliance that you don’t get in other approaches. Whether you’re a stubborn solo-paddler or are interested in fitness, or just want to see the area you’re paddling in from more than just an on-water-perspective, self-shuttling is a skill worth developing.


Self-Shuttle Clinic - 01-26-20

Purchase this service to reserve your slot for the self-shuttle clinic held on January 26th, 2020, in the Big South Fork NRRA. No refunds unless trip is cancelled due to unsafe conditions.

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This Clinic costs $80.00 per person. It’s a great deal, and we’ll probably have a sizable (but not too large) group. To facilitate this program, I’ll need the support of some folks on the outside to keep an eye on our gear and provide leadership assistance. This means I can’t arrange all of this and have folks back out at the last minute. For this reason, if you want to join the clinic, you need to pre-pay in advance. I will cap the clinic to 8 people. Once it fills, I will update the site and provide an additional date for those who didn’t make payment in time to join the first trip. If, in the unlikely instance conditions will not provide for a safe clinic, I will cancel, notify you, and refund your payment. To reserve your spot, click the “add to cart” button on the right, fill out the required information, and complete your transaction.


We are meeting January 26th, at 8am, Eastern, at Burnt Mill Bridge, which is in Big South Fork NRRA. Cell service can be spotty, so relying on your phone to get you there may work, or it may not. Plan your route in advance and be familiar with it so you can navigate without assistance from electronics. Please be on time, as we’ll have a long day and can’t wait too long for stragglers. Burnt Mill Bridge is around an hour and twenty minutes northwest of Knoxville. Here’s a map that shows the location:


It is possible that water levels may dictate a different venue in the Big South Fork, or a short distance south in the Obed Wild & Scenic River. However I will try to avoid making any changes unless absolutely necessary. Mother Nature always decides the details!


  • ALL KAYAKING GEAR YOU NEED TO STAY WARM, COMFORTABLE, AND SAFE IN WINTER CONDITIONS - obviously this will vary based on weather conditions, which will become more clear in the days leading up to the clinic.


    • Shoes - remember these will need to fit in a drybag(s) in your boat. Runners work much better than hiking boots here. Bonus if the shoes you wear on the trail can also be used on the river. But remember that comfort on the trail is paramount! If you have to have bulky shoes for the hike, consider going a little more low-profile on your river shoe to make up the difference. The astral loyak or comparable is a low-profile river shoe that doesn’t weigh much.

    • Ultralight runners backpack - Some folks may not need this, but I like to have a small pack, like an REI Flash 18, or even just a camelback pack, to hold water, snacks/energy, hat, gloves, phone, map. You don’t need too much on the trail, but having something to put it in is a must. This pack has to go in a drybag too, so something that can just be rolled up is great. Remember that EVERYTHING you have on the hike must go in drybags in your boat.

    • Water - I really prefer camelback for water. That way I don’t have to fish water out of a backpack, but can sip on the go. I stay better hydrated this way, and am hands free to scramble around and make left turns if desired. Everyone has different water consumption rates, but I bring a full 1.5 liter bladder and usually drink it all. Remember that you’ll need some water stashed with your boat at the put-in as well, since you may run out by the time you get to your boat. An extra 32 ounce bottle does the trick there.

    • Food - I don’t like to leave food sitting in the woods for very long, so I’ll bring what I need on the hike AND the river with me on the trail. I usually don’t eat but a bar/goo or two on the river at most so it’s not much extra. We’ll be eating lunch on the trail, so bring what you need with weight and palatability as considerations.

    • Apparel - An important area of contemplation, and this will vary person to person. Our plan is for the hike to have an aerobic component to it. We won’t be racing, but we’ll keep a decent pace, minus the occasional side-excursion to points of interest. All this to say that we should stay warm from effort. If the weather is in the low 40’s, I usually wear thin-weight leggings and long-sleeve top, with running shorts over top. Then I have runners gloves, and a balaklava that can be worn as a buff, hat, or ski-mask, depending on conditions. Then I bring a thin shell/jacket for when we stop and I need to keep some of the heat I’ve been generating in. If it’s in the low 30’s I add an ultralight down hoodie, and a thin shell for my legs.

    • Cable Lock - So you can lock up your boat in the woods while we run shuttle

    • Extras - Everyone’s different! I usually bring runners glide, to stay comfortable on long hikes/runs. Sometimes I like listening to music so I’ll bring a phone and earbuds. A camera is always a good idea, and with our ultralight demands, your phone is a great fit. Lip balm, a nose-warming neoprene face mask for super cold temps, gore-tex socks if it’s super wet out, etc. Just remember that everything has to fit in your boat and not jeopardize your confidence/performance on the river.


We’ll be paddling the Big South Fork Gorge. It is a long, remote, wilderness run a long ways from help. It’s one of my favorites, and has tons of Class III rapids, as well as a few Class IV rapids that can be walked with a fair amount of effort. You should feel comfortable on runs of similar difficulty, such as the Ocoee, Nolichucky, French Broad (Section 9), etc.


  • 8am - Meet at Burnt Mill Bridge, then drive 2 minutes to boating gear drop/stash area and stash all river gear

  • 9am - Drive to take-out at Leatherwood Ford

  • 10am - Start Hiking to put-in via a wonderful combination of trails (~10 miles)

  • 1:30pm - Arrive at boating gear, change and prep for river trip

  • 2pm - Paddle Big South Fork

  • 5pm - Finish



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