Picture Stories

Tennessee River & Tenn-Tom Waterway

I had wanted to start near Minneapolis. It was the closest water connection to the Loop from Seattle where I picked up L.T. and I had a friend there who could store my truck and trailer. I wanted (and still want) to see the fall colors on the upper Mississippi. I’ll spare you the excuses but the Mississippi was frozen by the time I got there. On to Kentucky where my brother could take the truck and trailer.


I’m guessing that it’s safe to say that L.T. and I are the first to launch a Great Loop from the small boat ramp at Reed Hollow Campground at Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area. L.T. pointed out that it worked a lot better if I unhooked her from the trailer winch. As I got that figured out, we were both overwhelmed by the adrenaline rush of actually having started, the sobering thought that there was now no turning around and the sad recognition that due to my procrastination getting started, we would spend Christmas alone.


But over the next few days, for the first of many times to come, I felt the vague notion that Someone was watching out for L.T. and me. Circumstance had put me on Kentucky Lake to start the Great Loop. Had I actually tried, we could not have started at a better place. No tide, no current, no getting lost. Good circumstances to break in both of us, even if a bit chilly.

As Kentucky Lake eased us into the Tennessee River, I gained the confidence to handle Pickwick Lock up to Pickwick Lake. A right turn, oil change and on to the Yellow River to the Tenn-Tom Waterway. Ten locks down through an impressive engineering feat to the Tombigbee River. Enjoy the winding, slow water of the lower Tombigbee through two more locks, on to the Alabama River through saltwater marsh to Mobile Bay. Across Mobile Bay into the Gulf Coast Intra-Coastal Waterway.

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