Crazy Change is coming!!

me and the mountaineer!

My new Mascot

December 10, 2013

The past week has been so hectic and so amazing at the same time!  I am finally done with my third semester at Montreat and I am on my way to moving on. I got my official acceptance to Appalachian State and I am beyond stoked!!! I love going to new places and experiencing new things and App is definitely going to do that for me.  There are so many differences between it and Montreat. For one it’s a state school, HUGE (at least compared to tiny Montreat), has an actual art building (unlike Montreat’s art room), and it has football!!!!!  I feel like App is going to be a much better fit for me.

Although, I will definitely miss Montreat. Not gonna lie, it was really bittersweet and weird to turn in my withdrawal form earlier. I will miss my friends and the experiences I have had. Montreat is a very special place and it was the place I needed to be when I was there.  Being there showed me all the opportunity I had, what I wanted to do in my future, how to stick with stuff even when it sucks, and it helped me meet some incredible people!

Now i get to take the next semester off and work on some stuff I have been meaning to do. I also have to find a job…

Yay Job Hunt.....

Yay Job Hunt…..

I guess that’s all part of growing up and joining the real world, huh? I also have to finish all my applications for this summer. Granted my mother is less than thrilled about me being on the river again.  I guess the whole big water, big danger thing makes her super nervous. I wish she could understand how much more I have to learn and how big water is part of that. But, hey she’s my mom and looking out for me is her job and it’s a big one at that! Hahahaha

Not only do I have to get hired for some bigger water I need to get in big water shape. These next three and a half months i am going to be working out with my friend Megan. She’s gonna teach me how to rock climb and ride a bike. Yes, I am 19 and do not know how to ride a bike, weird I know. while she is doing that, I am going to teach her how to swim. We are going to beat our bodies into sexy submission! We joke about how we are gonna have such crazy chest muscle we that we can move our boobs like guys can move their pecks! ;D

I will be posting my raft guide specific workout later on this month!!

TiTs Deep

December 4, 2013

So, I just found this awesome group on Facebook known as TiTs Deep.  They are a group of women who are rockin’ their extreme sports!   All of these women embrace who they are and push themselves to the limit so that they can soar to new heights doing what they love. This group is all about inspiring other women, of every background and situation, to pursue extreme sports like snowboarding, wakeboarding, whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, skiing, and downhill mountain biking.  They are huge supporters of community for women everywhere.  The TiTS Deep merchandise sales are used to support the female action sport community. If you are interested in supporting this awesome cause check out their website: titsdeep.org.

I find this extremely inspiring because rafting is still slightly a male dominated job environment, especially on bigger rivers. To see other women having as much fun and rocking the whitewater scene I want to, just makes me want to keep pushing myself.  If I could get half as good as these chicks in this video, I’d be thrilled!

Definitely go and check out the rest of this video series on Vimeo. Totally worth your time. 🙂

Chacos are a Guide’s Choice in Footwear

Chacos are the ultimate outdoors sandal.  Not only are they comfortable but also durable. I personally wear mine all year long (yes in in the winter) and I’m tough on them. But some how my first pair managed to last me three years!  Of course they are also the go to shoe for guides. Check out this video Chaco posted on their Facebook page about raft guides on the Chattooga river:

Communication, In the Emergency

Okay Guys,

Part of the rafting experience is the scenic riverside and views you see as you float down the water. The the pro and con of these scenic views is that you usually get to experience them because you are in an isolated part of the world. The pro side of this: It’s beautiful and you aren’t distracted from your rafting trip.  The con: you are isolated and if an emergency occurs, you can be seriously screwed.

I know this from personal experience. In early July while I was on the Nanny, I got my shoulder messed up on a customer trip. I later learn that I had torn my rotator cuff slightly. Of course I wasn’t able to guide the rest of the trip after that and we needed to get some help to guide my raft down the rest of the way and get me off river. The bad thing about this whole situation is that we had no way of contacting the outpost so they could send someone. Lucky for us the river ran along U.S. Route 74. One of the other guides were able to flag down a car so that we could use their cellphone. All of this could have been easily avoided if one of us had a walkie-talkie or a waterproof cellphone.  The customer group I had on this disastrous trip were the ones who pointed this out.

If a group of customers point this out, it does call for a bit of thought to be given on the subject.

For those of you who have smartphones you usually try to keep them away from water as much as possible. Well that is no longer a problem with awesome companies like LifeProof and Otterbox.  I personally now have a LifeProof for my iPhone. My main motivation to spend the money on this case is from the experience I discussed above.  I would definitely advise guides to invest in some for of communication like this. You don’t even have to have a smartphone. Many phone companies carry a waterproof “dumb” cellphone.  Granted, not everywhere will have cell service, but in today’s world that is becoming less and less of a problem.

So, just a word of advice from one guide to another, always be prepared in anyway possible for random emergencies on the river.

Creek Kayak King

Take some time and please vote on your preferred kayak brand for creeking! Please, leave any comments on other brands not included in this poll! This is just out of pure curiosty and I hope it bring to light some of the advantages of specific brands and which one seems to rock the creeks! Also leave comments on why you chose a particular brand! Thanks guys!

My New After School Run. 

My Major is tough and I mean really tough. I spend endless hours on the computer and in design labs trying to do assignments from high string design teachers. I have to deal with crazy deadlines and even crazier expectations. 

Yet, through all this stress and anxiety there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The light is the after school run that I can take on Watauga section 3. This section of river has been my play ground all through my Spring semester. 

Section 3 of the Watauga is a really easy and beginner friendly run above the Watauga Gorge. My friend Megen and I frequent it quite a bit at multiple different levels. My favorite level that we got to experience was when everything was flooding and the Watauga was at 1000 cfs.  The current was moving really fast, there were a bunch of new waves and play spots, and it gave me a perfect opputunity for roll practice with my Method Air. 

All in all I am really thankful that I have something like this so close to home and I can’t wait until I am able to actually run the gorge! This type of access keeps me in a better mindset to complete my school work and it gives me a way to work through my stress. I honestly don’t think I would have survived my Spring semester as well as I did if I didn’t have the opputunity to go kayaking as much as I did. Hopefully as time goes on I will get more opputunities to paddle as my classes get harder and more stressful. 

When you find the one

No I don’t mean the one person who you’ll spend the rest of your life with or fall in love with romantically. I mean that one person that makes the perfect paddling partner!  They are the person that you call up when a creek is finally running or when you are wanting to take a Personal First Desent. They are the ones that push you to become a better paddler,thy celebrate your triumphs with you, help you when you screw up, they are the ones who are there to throw you a rope when you’re in trouble, and then throw you a beer to drink out of your bootie at the take out. 

I have paddled with multitudes of people over the course of my paddling experience. They have all taught me something very valuable and they have helped me start a great foundation for my paddling. But one person has always had my back and that is my friend Megen. We met at the roll clinic at school and we instantly vibed well. We started paddling together and it was great because we were both around the same skill level but excelled more at different things. She has helped me grow so much as a paddler and I am so excited that I have a friend like her. 

I believe it is extremely imported for every paddler to have someone like this to paddle with. Having people you trust and enjoy being with makes you that much more confident on the river which in turn makes you that much better. Plus, it is always nice when you have someone who is on your level that you can learn and grow with. It helps you be safe but, still push yourself past your comfort zone enough to grow and learn something new. 

I’m Back!!

First off I would like to apologize for being gone for so long. Life has been hectic and I honestly haven’t had time nor the motivation to post anything in a while. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been on the water. Actually I have been trying to get out as often as I can. I have been tearing up the Nantahala, the Nolichucky, Watauga section three, French Broad section nine, and recently I got my personal first decent of Wilson’s Creek!!  

I will be posting some more with details on all of my recent river adventures, the challenges that I have had to deal with the past few months, and the awesome people I have met along the way!  

So stayed tuned and stay awesome! 

More to come ya’ll!! ✌🏻

Introducing the Gnar Fairies

During Septmeber 2014, I was able to attend Gauley Fest and raft the Upper Gauley River. I went up to West Virginia with some friends from school and with the intentions to bum a ride down the river and just hang out with the people I came with. When we got to the festival and I was able to walk around the grounds and look at the booths, I ran into my friend Blake. While I had worked on the Nantahala river I met Blake because he was a Trip Leader at a neighboring company.  We hugged and then he introduced me to this girl he was with.  Her name was Lee Turner.  Little did I know this girl was going to be one of the biggest influences on my kayaking experience.

They both invited me to sleep at their campsite since, I was going to be sleeping under the stars on the ground.  Lee immediately took me under her wing by feeding me dinner, giving me a spot in her tent, and insisting on my presence in one of the rafts that the group was taking down.  She and I just kinda clicked.  We literally sat by the fire the majority of the night talking about life and kayaking.  She was super understanding of my infancy in kayaking at the time and she was just stoked that I wanted to become a better and independent female paddler.

The next day we all got ready and followed the caravan to the river.  I was thoroughly excited to be going down my with new and old friends.  Lee and I ended up in the same raft and we were able to bond over one of our passions:  The river.   As we were going down the Upper, she and I started to talk about a possible all women’s paddling crew. Lee had been wanted to start one for a long time and I was always inspired by female teams like Tits Deep and The Boof Sisters. Which lead us to the decision to start one of our own.

That Fated Day!

As we continued down the river we were both admiring the coincidence that our helmets were extremely glittery and sparkly. The glitter gave me the inspiration for a name for the crew. Boof Fairies! And the Fairies were born. We would later change our name to the Gnar Fairies so that we wouldn’t have ties to The Boof Sisters. We wanted to be original.

The Gnar Fairies are a paddling crew for women by women. We don’t care what skill level female paddlers are at because our main goal is to focus on how whitewater empowers women to grow and to become a stronger individuals both physically and mentally. We strive to bring a strong source of femininity to the paddling world in every whitewater sport. We also believe in personal triumph and being able to leave a legacy that will pave the way for other female paddlers. I, personally, am beyond stoked about the potential for this team because, it is going to create a support system to become a better me, on and off the water. Also I can’t wait to meet even more passionate female paddlers!

Feel free to check out the Gnar Fairies on Facebook (Gnar Fairies Community Page) and on Instagram (@gnar_fairies). We also have a crew blog through Blogger (http://gnarfairies.blogspot.com/).

Here’s a picture of my first time paddling as a Gnar Fairy! -Han-Gnarkayaking

Upper Green

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone was able to start 2015 well. Because I know I did!

I was able to complete my first personal first decent of the year by going down the Upper Green in Saluda, NC. I got to go down with my friend and fellow future Gnar Fairy Heather. It was a first time for both of us and I was probably the more nervous of the two. I mean this would be my first run that was creeky and somewhat steep. Thankfully, I was able to rent a drysuit from Asheville Adventure Rentals which put me a lot more at ease than I would have been if I was just braving the elements with my wetsuit and drytop. (yeah, learned that lesson on Section 9 of the French)
All of that nervous energy resulted in me overly planning, probably overly packing, and listening to really fast paced hype up music. Poor Heather was silently going insane from my music choice and I have a funny feeling that I am going to be investing in better headphones for future trips with her. Although I think a morning routine is beginning to form for any big kayaking day for me. The big thing that I have to half is a big and yummy breakfast. I am a huge believer in breakfast and I guess I don’t get the same kind of nervous energy when I am full, compared to when I am only running on coffee and a Cliff bar. So I don’t know about the rest of you but, when I am preparing to kayak I am gonna have some breakfast.

Now back to kayaking. Heather had set this run up and we ended up meeting with two very experienced kayakers that would take us down. They were both super patient with both of us and they had such a wonderful energy about them. One of these kayakers was a wonderful lady named Juliet. She helped Heather conquer peeling out and she gave me a ton of advice on paddle positioning and other techniques. I was also able to use her as a sounding board for training ideas and local runs. To say the least I was super stoked to be able to paddle with such an experienced female kayaker. She definitely helped me get over the jitters in the beginning of the run.
Once I was over the jitters and got more and more comfortable with my boat I started to have a lot of fun on the river. Even when I was swam!! I loved the feeling of catching that micro eddy and then peeling out on edge! It felt so natural and just wonderful. I also loved the drops. I have been on higher volume rivers like the Ocoee and I didn’t have as much fun as I did on the Upper Green. I have watched tons and tons of videos of people creeking and doing drops. Now I want to do all of that! I want to get to the point where I can do class V drops. I know that is in the distant future because, I mean I still need my combat roll! However, one day I will get there.
I would have to say the Upper Green is definitely one of my favorite runs I have ever done. I definitely would do it again. Even if the hike out sucks like none other. All that I was able to do and practice makes that 45 minute hike out of the gorge totally worth it. Now I just need to work on boofing, surfing, and all the other techniques that come with kayaking.
Until next time,

Peace Ya’ll 🙂

Btw this is my pump up playlist! Enjoy!

First Boat: Nomadic Style

Early in December I was able to get myself a early Christmas present. That present is a 2012 Dagger Nomad 8.5!!!! I got this boat for a killer deal and I am beyond stoked to have my own boat now.
I decided on the Nomad because 1. I got a great deal on it (just being honest) 2. I paddled this boat down the Ocoee for my first time down the Ocoee in a kayak and it served me well 3. This is a proven kayak design 4. It is a super forgiving boat 5. And it just happened to be my favorite colors!! (I’m a girl and can get away with buying a kayak for the colors). So all in all it was a much better choice than my original ideas of a Pyranha Shiva or Liquid Logic Remix.

photo (1)

This ^ is my first time ever in my boat! I christened it on Section 9 of the French Broad. You can go check out my post about that to see how it all went. Although I will say that I really didn’t start to fall in love with this boat until I took it down the Upper Green (post to come). After practicing a bunch of eddy catching, peeling out, and surfing I fell in love with the edges, the volume, and just how well the boat responded! I actually began to feel at home in the water. This is a huge first for me with a kayak. I haven’t been able to use consistent gear up until this point in my kayaking career. It is so refreshing to just be able to hop in my boat and not have to adjust the entire outfitting!! I feel like this is going to be a huge boost to my skill level and my learning ability. Now all I want to do is paddle! I just wish the weather was a little more helpful and not so bloody cold! Hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me on the rivers and creeks in the Western North Carolina area! 🙂

Peace Ya’ll 🙂

French Broad: Section 9

Early this winter break I was able to have my personal first decent down Section 9 of the French Broad. My friend Travis took me down with a couple of his other friends and it was a huge learning experience. Although most of the learning was about preparation than actually kayaking skills. It was a colder day in December and I thought a double layer of neoprene and a dry top would be all the gear I would need. I was extremely wrong. I ended up swimming at one point and I was so cold afterwards that I couldn’t even get my spray skirt back on. I had to paddle through a few rapids before I could catch and eddy and get some help from the other kayakers in the group. Thankfully, this guy Bret switched paddles with me so that I could use his pogies.
The lesson I learned was this: I am a wimp when it comes to the cold. If I don’t have the right gear from no on, I ain’t paddling. I wouldn’t have been so miserable after that swim if I had had a drysuit on. Wetsuits and dry tops just don’t cut it during a North Carolina winter. I honestly don’t want to be a fair weather paddler but, I am going to have to prepare more from now on so that I can paddle in the winter. To all of those who bear this cold with minimal gear, props to you!
Even though I was cold, I was thankful that I was able to go down and get a taste of Section 9. It was the first river I got to go down with my new boat! I can now cross it off my list of things I need to paddle. Plus, I am quite sure I will be down it a lot this summer while I am in Asheville. So I can hone my eddy catching, my surfing, and other paddling skills. I am quite excited!!

Peace Ya’ll. 🙂

Skills vs. Boat

October 27, 2014

In a previous post I told of my adventure kayaking the Ocoee. This is still a highlight in my current kayaking ventures, but it has recently been slightly down played.   The other day I was at the Liquid Logic factory in Fletcher, NC, looking at the new Flying Squirrel with my boyfriend. He was interested in buying one, and he had hoped to get me a tour of the factory. While he was talking to one of the employees about the boat, he drops a comment about how the Dagger Nomad is the type of kayak that makes you a ten times better boater than you really are.  This caught my attention because that is the very boat I used on the Ocoee. It go me thinking, “Is that really true?”  Can a boat really make you out to be more skilled than you really are?  And if so, is that why I was able to make it down so smoothly? I personally thought that it was because I had been spending what time I could, doing whatever I could, to heighten my kayaking skills. I would drill the instructors at roll clinic for advice and critiques on my form. I would practice paddling, bracing, and quick maneuvers to the best of my ability in the pool. I would watch video after video to study correct movement and reading water. I thought all of this had paid off and that I did so well on the Ocoee because of my own personal skill….I just wonder if I was wrong. So I want to ask my followers, do you think that the boat really could have made that much of a difference?

Peace Ya’ll

Gauley Fest 2014

October 22, 2014

This post is super late and I apologize for that…so about my first Gauley Fest experience, it was flipping amazing!!!!!!! (Literally, flipped the boat at a rapid called Insignificant)
I have been saying all year long how much I wanted to go to Gauley Fest this year. As the time got closer, the more an more determined I became to go. Although my determination was equally met with complications and hardships. I honestly thought my goal to go this year wasn’t going to be met because it came to 24 hours before Gauley Fest and I didn’t have a ride up there. I was on the verge of devastation. But as I mentioned before, my determination was at an all time high. I had been pestering my friend Cabell to go to Gauley Fest for weeks and he kept saying he wasn’t gonna go. However, my incessant nagging worked its magic an he decided to go at the last minute! I swear the river gods have a way of looking our for me but they make me sweat it out and I manage to get by, by the skin of my teeth.
The ride up there was gorgeous and I have to commend Cabell on his taste in music! It definitely complimented the atmosphere. We got to West Virginia late Friday night and I don’t think I have never seen so many kayaks in my life! It was incredible. I walked into the camp grounds and everyone was supercool and open. I also was able to run into some friends an they were able to provide me a tent to crash in. Since I managed to not have anything but a cheap sleeping bag and ground pad. (Talk about being prepared huh?) the same friends were also able to same me a seat in one of their rafts to go down the Upper Gauley the next day.
When we went down my group went in a three thwarted Puma and the other group went down in a three thwarted Aire raft. I was glad that I was able to go down with this group because they were a mixture of some I my friends from the Nantahala Gorge, other gorge people, and my future crew member Lee. We all had a blast and I am so blessed to have been able to experience that kind of water. Definitely some of the biggest stuff I have ever been on. I mean the Ocoee at 6000 cfs was big, but this river was bigger and definitely much more technical. I have go to give a shout out to my friend Blake Beshears for guiding us down! He did a stellar job and he definitely proved his skill level out there.
My favorite part was when we went down Sweet Falls. I had seen a ton of video footage of this rapid and it was so cool to be able to do it for myself! Plus, after watching all that video I knew the line that we needed to take through the falls. Granted, I want guiding but it made me feel competent and a little more skilled than before.
Not only did I have an awesome time rafting and exiting the festival while inWest Virginia. I also met a really cool chick, Lee Turner. She and I had and instant friendship. We just understood each other and we found out we both have similar whitewater ambitions. Because of this we decided to start a paddling group known as the Gnar Fairies. It is an all girls paddling crew that just wants to have a great time on whitewater and shred some gnar.
All in all I have to say I had the time d my life while I was in West Virginia and I can’t wait till next year!!

Peace ya’ll 🙂

Ocoee Adventure

October 18, 2014

This past weekend I got to play more on the Ocoee than I thought I was capable of doing. Yes, I have been on the Ocoee many times and often at high water. However, I haven’t ever really experienced the nanty flow of the Ocoee. Nor have I ever guided it or kayaked it. Well this past weekend I was able to do all of that!

On Saturday, after getting in at three in the morning, I was persuaded by my fellow Gnar Fairy, Lee, to kayak the Ocoee with her and her friend Austin. Somehow I accepted her challenge and went down in a friend’s Dagger Nomad.  I almost backed out at least three times as I was portaging the first rapid Grumpies. Mainly because the boat was heavy, I wasn’t use to carrying a kayak that far, and it was more or less torture. I swear my shoulders are still sore from carrying that damn boat. But the is also what kept me from stopping a turning around. Because I honestly did not want to carry that boat any farther than I had to and I couldn’t back down on Lee at that point. So once I got to the safety eddy by the play wave I sucked it up and started my second descend of whitewater in a kayak…..EVER.

Now to be honest, it was probably not the smartest decision on my part to go down the Middle Ocoee as my second kayaking adventure. However,it went a lot better than I thought it would and it was a huge confidence booster for me.  (that is until yesterday when my boyfriend dropped a couple of comments but, I’ll explain that later)  I only swam twice and the second time wasn’t even my fault.  The first time was after a rapid called Diamond Splitter and it happened when I hit an an eddy wrong. Yep, made it through the hard rapid and swam in the eddy, just my flipping luck.  The second time was because this stupid raft didn’t get out of the way of down flow traffic and they ended up running me over. I was able to flip back up after wards to just land sideways in a hole that flipped me and then I couldn’t roll back up.  I had to swim and miss the very last rapid, which pissed me off more than the swim! I was almost done and then it all goes to hell!

Although the entire trip was not dampened by those two instances. I  was able to boof for the first time and by my third time I wasn’t half bad. I was also able to challenge myself and take the actual lines through many of the rapids instead of sneak lines and chutes. Plus, the two people I paddled with, Lee and Austin, were both rather proud that I was able to style the rapids as much as I did.

All of this made me feel like all the hours I had spent training at the roll clinics had finally paid off and that i might actually be cut out for kayaking after all.

Now for the guiding part of my story. The next day I was able to go down with a senior guide from Wildwater, Ty, and his girl friend in a six thwarted raft. He guided all teh way down to a rapid called Flipper and then he let me take over the guide seat and test out the waters.  (Side note: by this point in my rafting career I had been scared cruddless of the Ocoee.  I had heard tons of horror stories, watched countless carnage videos, and had seen the monster it becomes at high water.  I honestly didn’t think I would ever be strong enough to handle the Ocoee. I wasn’t sure if I had enough faith in myself to actually be able to guide it and safely take customers down.) It was possibly one of the funnest times I had ever had in the guide seat! Ty was able to tell me the lines and I actually found myself naturally reading the water and having a good feeling of where I needed to be and how I was going to get there.  It felt completely natural! I lost a lot of fear for the Ocoee that day. Needless to say I still have a huge respect for that river because, I know exactly what it can do to you.  However, I don’t view it with fear anymore. I see it as a fun new challenge that i know I will eventually grab by the horns. Whether it be next summer or the summer after that, I now know that one day I will guide the Ocoee.

This huge milestone was hugely contributed to by my new paddling crew The Gnar Fairies.  If I wasn’t a part of this crew i would not have had the opportunity to experience that weekend. I am so excited for what other adventures lie ahead with this crew!

Peace ya’ll. 🙂