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A Day on the Tug Fork River

Recently, Carrie Digman, General Manager of the Mountaineer Hotel in Williamson, invited me to go on a kayaking trip on the Tug Fork River with her and some of the hotel staff. She was looking for a team building style activity the hotel staff could do as a group and since Williamson Parks and Recreation is now offering kayak rentals, she decided this would be a great staff activity. I hadn’t been kayaking before, so I jumped at the chance to go!

On the day of our trip, we met at the Williamson Field House to check in with Williamson Parks and Recreation Executive Director Jarrod Dean. Jarrod was also serving as our river tour guide for the morning. After we were fitted for life jackets, the kayaks were loaded up and we were off!

We launched near the Williamson water plant and began our little adventure down the Tug Fork River. It was so peaceful kayaking down the river. With the leaves changing colors, the mountains were a beautiful backdrop for the morning. We had a great time talking and laughing across the kayaks, too. Somehow I got turned around backwards. I thought I was going to finish my trip that way, but after I finished laughing at myself, I was finally able to get turned around. Carrie also accumulated a nice collection of leaves along the way. During the trip, Jarrod alerted us to any water hazards and how to safely navigate through them.

After about two hours on the river, we were at our destination in the Fairview area. We paddled up to the riverbank where it was time to pack it up for the day. A few mandatory group shots and selfies later, we were ready to go!

On our way back to the field house, we were talking about our favorite parts of the kayaking trip. Mountaineer Hotel staff member Vanessa Fowler said her favorite part was the calmness and peaceful feeling out on the river. “I would absolutely recommend doing this. Everyone needs this experience, and learn to appreciate our river,” she said.

For Carrie, she enjoyed seeing the fall colors, and being out in the quiet. She said, “I think everyone should try kayaking.”

Jarrod said he was excited to host the Mountaineer Hotel staff. “As a tourism partner in the community, it’s important for the hotel staff to know what kayaking on the Tug is all about.”

For me, my favorite parts were trying something new, a mini adventure with friends, and seeing the river scenery firsthand, rather than through photos. Sometimes we forget how beautiful our area is and we don’t give it the respect it deserves. From our mountains to our rivers, we are blessed. It’s wonderful to see so many people becoming more active in conservation efforts and taking the time to enjoy what we have here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Tug Fork River, join the Friends of the Tug Fork River Facebook group founded by Pete Runyon. River enthusiasts like Pete, John Burchett, and many others post daily updates about river conditions, river clean-up efforts, and more on the page.

If you haven’t tried kayaking on the river, give it a go! Check out Williamson Parks and Recreation on Facebook for more information on kayak rental and tour guide details. As for me, I can’t wait to go kayaking again! Hopefully, this time I don’t spend time floating backwards, but if I do, that’s okay -I’ll get turned around eventually.

On to the next adventure!

Chris Dotson

Williamson Forward Local Coordinator

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