Rhea County native completes 3,000 mile kayak trip
By Ron Bush, Chattanooga Times Free Press
Brad Tallent of Rhea County, left, and Austin Graham of Louisiana stand on the shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia at the start of their 3,000 mile kayaking trip. Times Free Press photo
CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -
In a case of one big adventure literally leading to another, Rhea County native Brad Tallent recently finished a kayak trip of more than 3,000 miles from Nova Scotia in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Tallent made the paddling journey with Austin Graham of St. Francisville, La., a small town near Baton Rouge. The two met on an Appalachian Trail hike that started on April 1, 2012, and decided to try a long-distance kayak trip during a one-day break at Erwin, Tenn., when they took small rental boats down the Nolachucky River, not long before Tallent left the other hikers in the group that bonded soon after leaving Springer Mountain in Georgia, including Rusty Packard of Harrison, in southern Virginia.
That was the first time Graham ever was in a kayak. Tallent had done quite a bit of paddling, mostly canoeing, since boyhood, but his experience also was limited for the venture that began last June 16 at Cape Breton Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
"I had a couple of kayaks before, but nothing like the one I have now," the Evensville resident and 2007 Rhea County High School graduate said. "This one is 17 feet long, so it's pretty big. The one I practiced Eskimo rolls in before the trip was an 11-footer, I think -- a 1980s whitewater kayak that was a hand-me-down from my father. These are quite a bite different, so it took a while to figure them out.