Soon I was effortlessly gliding through the water in the tube, my wife providing the propulsion. After a bit of experimenting with attaching the tube to the kayaks, we found that tying it close behind one kayak was generally best. Pulling the tube was easier than expected for the most part, as long as there was some current to help, and it was even a fun challenge to navigate the kayak/tube combo through the riffles and sharp bends. Of course, hauling my brother through long, flat pools was not so fun, but these were relatively few and far between.
This section of river flows through an area that is far from wilderness, but it still had a nice, natural feel most of the time. I liked the stretch from Messengerville to Marathon best. With Route 11 staying far from the river, the shorelines were populated by big sycamore trees and lots of wildflowers, and the river alternated between short pools and fun little rapids where the water curved around a series of small islands. Once we came to Marathon, roads and buildings started to approach the river more, and the ratio of pools to riffles increased, but it was still a very nice paddle.
Though it was hot in the kayaks, especially when on pulling duty, we made sure to spend lots of time in the water. I even got out of the tube and swam downriver for several hundred yards at one point. It was very refreshing. Within site of the takeout, we found an excellent place to stop, on an island beside a narrow, swift chute in the river, and we took turns floating down briskly on our backs. Thoroughly cooled off, we paddled the last bit to Lighthouse Landing, finishing in just 4 1/2 hours.
This was a really fun trip, and it makes me wonder why it took me so long to get out on the river. I definitely would like to paddle more sections of the Tioughnioga before this winter, and I may even try to eventually cover the whole thing, from Cuyler to Chenango Forks.