It was time, once again, to set out on another dirtbag weekend. However, as I find myself getting older, comfort is beginning to outweigh MPG. Besides, with gas below two bucks it is well worth the few extra dollars. So I began the conversion of my utility trailer into my weekend retreat.
Sleeping in the back of the truck is fine but sometimes you have to treat yourself. I have been using the utility trailer for business and pleasure for a few trips now. Simply sweep it out, toss in a bed, camping gear, portable marine toilet, bike and boating gear, and it all closes up to create the sneakiest of all bootleg campers. Parked anywhere, no one suspects you’re inside sleeping off last night’s shenanigans.
My gear was loaded and I was late as usual so I knew I was ready. Cookeville Tennessee is a short yet beautiful 2 hour drive from my hut. As I arrived at the festival grounds it was nice to see that a bunch of vendors and campers had already set up. The disc golf course, provided by Shawn Groton of Nashville Disc Golf, was stellar once again. With everything from woods to large open fields, the course was great for novice or expert alike. The lineup for the bands was a long list of solid performers that despite chilly temps kept the crowd rocking well into the evening. For those who prefer their music to be a little more electronic, there was a DJ set up as well, spinning EDM non-stop, non-stop.
3-Philip and Tom, MuRF organizers, playing in the hole.
Saturday was the run on Spring Creek. I have to say, they do a great job shuttling boats and paddlers to and from the take out and put-ins. The level was lower than desired but this is what you get on a classic free flowing creek in the south. This little gem tucked away on the Cumberland Plateau is an underrated beauty.
I actually overheard someone say that they weren’t going to run it because it is only class 3. I find it odd and sad that people would deny themselves the opportunity to witness such beauty because the river isn’t stout enough. However, we all have our place and make our own choices. I strongly recommend visiting Spring Creek and deciding for yourself. This creek is loaded with drops and slides, nice recovery pools and beautiful waterfalls feeding the creek. The biggest one, Mill Creek Falls, is an amazing site on its own. Combining all of the little feeder falls, Waterloo falls, which is a 30 ft drop in the main channel (avoided by a long but not too difficult portage), the cliffs and wildlife, this run is a great introduction to southeast creeking if the level is good. Again, this year it was a little thin which adds a lot of extra work in the flats but that is what you get on a free flowing canyon creek.
DBP Admin Rachel Elise of Relise Designs chilling with Pat Keller
This year’s batch of participants included some big names with the likes of Pat Keller pimping Liquid Logic and huge hometown supporters Jackson Kayak’s own Dane Jackson (#danewho?) to name a few. I cannot say enough that if you wish to shake hands, talk boating or just snap a selfie with some world class kayakers MuRF is the place to be. I learned that Mr. Keller is a fan of liquid peppermint patties (details not available here) and Dane will let you ride his Onewheel in trade for a beer. With attendance growing every year your opportunities grow as well. Best of all the profits from the event go to help wounded veterans through the Team River Runner program! You really can’t go wrong.
1-the loot donated to TRR
2-Phillip at the entrance/check-in
3-getting everyone loaded up for shuttle
The event peaks with a party like few others. The grounds are within June Bug Ranch, a sprawling property known for its biker rallies, music festivals and flammable brush piles. There was an unbelievable raffle with prizes ranging from moonshine, kayak skirts and whitewater rescue classes, to a brand new Jackson kayak! If you didn’t win something it’s because you didn’t buy a ticket! This had to be one of the biggest raffles with the best odds of any I have seen. The music goes on late into the night and the party doesn’t stop until you do.
This make for quite a smattering of many different folks from all walks of life. It’s not as big as some festivals, but that’s what gives MuRF that hometown feel. Some folks I have seen throughout the year and others I only know from MuRF. Like many others festivals, MuRF is like a family reunion you want to go to! For those in the frozen north, I urge you to put this on your list of places to thaw out when you just can’t take old man winter anymore. No worries if Spring Creek is low, it is located within a reasonable drive to many other classic south east runs as well.
If you missed the past few years, mark your calendars for early March and keep your eyes open for next year’s dates. As for those who have been, I know I will see you next time!
Some things you might want to know:
*Hot showers are available** small bunk houses can be rented **food vendors are available as well as a bar /restaurant if you don’t want to cook** plenty of room for RV or tent camping** Bring CASH! There is an ATM at the bar but it empties out fast. Town is not too far but….** dogs are welcome but must be kept under control at all times**
Pat Keller (above) and Dane Jackson (below) sending Spring Creek