The middle of April in Middle Tennesse is always a time of new things. New hopes and dreams are replenished and as the temperatures slowly start to rise after the winter doldrums, new thoughts and plans about paddling inevitably begin to emerge.
Such was especially the case April 13 when the good folks at Paddle Adventures Unlimited hosted the Cumberland River Paddlefest. As the weekend approached we were all hoping for sunny skies and warm temperatures.
We weren’t disappointed. In fact, attendance was at an all time high of 412 participants coming out to celebrate paddling and kick off another season of the great outdoors. Numerous vendors were displaying their wares, happily discussing who they are and what they do to all the folks ready to get their paddles in the water.
A bunch of outfitters and individuals brought their canoes, kayaks and paddle boards, enthusiastically offering newcomers and veterans alike advice and lessons on handling the various silent sports crafts sitting on shore.
It was a very special day for me. Not only because I proudly was one of the many sponsors of the event (and The One Match Band played paddle songs in such an idyllic setting) and not only because it was so much fun to see so many people of so many different walks of life loosening up their stiff winter muscles with a paddle in their hands, but it was especially endearing to see so many kids canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. They were everywhere and having a ball.
Seeing youngsters skimming around the surface of a lake instead of surfing the internet, playing video games or texting their friends across the room not only puts a smile on my face, but gives me hope that the next generation of paddlers will be strong in number and will be there to keep the rivers running and the waters clean long after I take my final paddle to the other shore.