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.
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.
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!
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-Gnar
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,
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.
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! 🙂