Camping trip on Dale Hollow Lake, April 12-14, 2018

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by pawsplus, Apr 17, 2018.

  1. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

    Jan 19, 2015
    Landlocked in Tennessee
    My friend Joel and I planned for this trip to last 3 nights and 4 days, but ended up coming home a day early due to forecasted thunderstorms. Around here, we don't fool around with lightning--it means business! As it turned out, we got rain but no thunderstorms--but due to not getting cell service on the lake, we had no way of knowing that (and the fisherman we asked still said that thunderstorms were in the forecast even on Sat PM), so discretion was the better part of valor. But it was still a great trip!

    DAY ONE. Here is the map of Day One:


    We launched on Thursday from Sunset Bay Marina down on the eastern side of Dale Hollow Lake. These TN lakes are all dammed-up rivers, so they tend to be long and sinuous. I had paddled and camped on the western side before, but not the eastern side. Interestingly, while the campsites on the western side seem to never have picnic tables, all those we visited (to camp or have lunch) DID have picnic tables, both in TN and KY.


    We were paddling into a head wind for a bit, but when the river changed direction, we got a bit of a break.


    We stopped for lunch at a campsite on an island.


    Here I am paddling on Day 1. It was quite warm and I put on dry pants but not the dry suit. The wind wasn't that bad and I felt secure.


    In the early afternoon, we reached our night one campsite, Jouett Point. This pic was actually taken when we went by on Day 3--it was lovely and sunny on Day 1!

    6-JCC_from water.JPG

    The campsite was great--lovely views, a picnic table AND a camper-built prep table, the requisite smelly privy, and many really nice places to pitch tents.




    We had veggie burgers, corn, and spaghetti for dinner, and turned in early. It's hard to stay up after the sun goes down when you have no bright indoor lights! :)

    DAY TWO.

    We launched about 9 AM. It took us a while to get packed up. Both of us are used to boats with larger hatches and we both had to make a lot of adjustments to the NDK boats. We're getting better with practice, though!

    Took a pic of us with the timer on my new camera. :)


    Note that I am not wearing the drysuit. It's not clear from our little inlet there, but the wind was VERY brisk (with gusts up to 30 mph I later learned), and after 20 min on the water I insisted we pull over so I could put on the drysuit. The water is cold and I really did not want to take an unintended swim without protection! I felt much better with the drysuit on, and wished that Joel had brought his.

    Map of Day 2:


    This day we decided, since we were not going to spend 3 nights out, but only 2, to visit our proposed Night 2 campsite (way up north on the map), but to return to our proposed night 3 campsite at Phillips Island for night 2. I was concerned about being way up north and having to paddle 16 miles on the last day, when we knew full well that it might be thunderstorming then. So we visited the campsite, but then came back down.


    It's hard to see from this pic, but you CAN see the whitecaps. It was very windy. Wind report said 21 mph, gusting to 30 mph, and it felt like it! Coming up from the south, the wind was behind us and we FLEW! Often we were effectively surfing on the following waves, which was fun but also a little hairy, as I really had to keep an eye on what was coming from behind! Crossing from the point on the right to the campsite, we had no choice but to be broadside to the waves, and I was edging into them like crazy the whole time, feeling very much that otherwise, I WOULD go over. SUPER FUN! :)


    On the way back down, we passed between Boys Island and Trooper Island, and decided to stop at Trooper. It's an interesting place. Owned by the KY State Police, it's developed (unlike every other island at Dale Hollow) and is used for camps for poor kids in the summertime. Here is the Google Earth shot--you can see the buildings, and the old WWII airplane they have for the kids to play on.


    We landed on the East side, and were almost immediately greeted by the adorable Bassett Hound who must be owned by the caretaker. She hung around during lunch (we only gave her love, not food!). We didn't wander around b/c we saw some people and didn't want to get in trouble for landing (there are no signs saying not to, but hey--they're Troopers ;-)). I was sure glad that I knew Daisy (I named the dog, of COURSE!) was owned, b/c if we'd encountered her anyplace but there I would have had to bring her back in my cockpit!



    After lunch, we continued South to Phillips Island.

    9-Phillips Island.JPG

    Another lovely campsite, with a table, on a narrow peninsula.





    No map for Day 3. Basically the same as Day 1 but in reverse, and with the bit between Phillips and Jouett Point added on. :)

    We got up super early, loaded FAST, and were on the water by 7:30 AM. We were hoping to beat the rain/storms. We didn't. ;-)


    No rain at first, but the wind was now completely against us, with, again, gusts to 30 mph. Sometimes we just paddled for all we had in us just to keep from going backwards! Then the gust would drop, so the wind was "only" 20 mph, and we'd make a little progress. It took us 3 hours to go 5 miles. We stopped for lunch at 10:30 b/c we really needed it by then! While we were eating, the rain started, but by the time we got on the water, the wind had, inexplicably, reversed itself. ??? So while we had rain the rest of the way, we also had a tail wind!


    Here's Joel. We made the last 5 miles in an hour thanks to the tail wind. We stayed as close to shore as possible, just in case it started up with lightning, but it never did.


    All in all, we had a great time. We paddled close to 30 miles over 3 days. It was excellent practice packing up every day instead of staying the same place all weekend, and I'm starting to get the hang of packing the Pilgrim. I also feel very confident in the boat now. The broadside waves were no worry in a boat that edges so well--I felt very much in control. Thank goodness for the sliding skeg control -- Joel's boat doesn't have one and it's a lot more trouble to keep adjusting the skeg without it. I found myself adjusting it often--bringing it up to adjust direction, then putting it down to hold the stern against the wind. That, too, will require a little practice, but thanks to this weekend, we got a lot of that! :)
  2. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    May 31, 2005
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Excellent report.

    You have some very lovely water there, and this trip really shows it off. And some helacious fetches, also. Sounds like you are handling the variable conditions with aplomb. I expect your surfing skills are getting pretty good. Those boats are made for those conditions.

    Trooper looked like a camper's paradise. Those open areas looked very nice.
  3. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

    Jan 19, 2015
    Landlocked in Tennessee
    You can't camp on Trooper's Island. :) Too much open area for me, anyway -- down here, you want SHADE! Most of the campsites are a good mix of sunny areas if you want them, but plenty of shade. This time of year it's not a huge issue, of course, and I won't camp here in the summertime LOL.
  4. dut

    dut Paddler

    Oct 28, 2008
    Great write up and pictures. It's good to see that you don't need a sea to sea kayak.

  5. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

    Jan 19, 2015
    Landlocked in Tennessee
    Well, I do what I can LOL. I work hard to get to the ocean as much as possible--Tybee Island twice in the past 6 mos, and every summer Vancouver/Van Island. :) But esp. on windy days, the lakes do provide some ocean-like conditions on occasion, and all practice is good practice!
    Astoriadave likes this.