Rando Chattajack Fact: (Williams Island State Archaeological Park)
During the entire Chattajack course you will pass one significant island, Williams Island. You will reach the tip of this island right around mile 7 where the river will split into two channels going around the island. Chattajacks are encouraged to take the river left channel as there is typically less boat traffic on that side but always go where you feel safest. You will paddle 2 miles before reaching the end of the island at which time the opposing channel will rejoin forming a single river channel. River currents typically slow down momentarily while passing this island which is why the island exists in the first place. Many thousands of years ago sediment deposits formed, trees began to grow stabilizing the island, and ultimately people began to make the island their home. The island is uninhabited today but many previous generations have thrived in the rich soil deposits. Archaeologists have uncovered sites on the island dating back to 12,000 B.C. Just over 1,000 years ago the island became home for an Indian village. They stayed settled on Williams Island for nearly 700 years. Today the island is owned by the State of Tennessee and managed by the Tennessee River Gorge Trust. The fertile soil is still used for agricultural & farming purposes.
After paddling beyond Williams island current speed picks up (probably attributed to gradient/loss of elevation). This is a good thing you will appreciate on race day. If you paddle using a GPS to monitor your speed you will notice your speed increase perhaps by 1 mile an hour. This bonus speed will typically maintain itself for the next 6-7 miles after which it will slowly begin to taper. While paddling through the gorge you will see large metal buoys (green & red). The green ones tell the barges where the channel is, the red ones tell the barges where not to be. When you see these buoys you may notice the current going around them providing a visual reference for how good the river’s current is or isn’t. If this sounds like gibberish just continue paddling hard and enjoy the scenery while keeping an eye out for safety. See you in the gorge soon!