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!

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

The French Broad

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I have rafted the French Broad before, but it has been so long that I barely even remember it. I want to go again, maybe even at high water!!

The French Broad River consist of many different types of experiences. There are generally three types of trips that happen on the French Broad: a half day trip that consists of class II and III rapids, a full day trip with II, III+, and a class IV, and the easy goin’ float down the river that starts in Hot Springs, NC.

If you want to take a trip check out:  http://www.frenchbroadrafting.com/

They’re a great local company and my Aunt who lives in Hot Springs says their guides are awesome!

The Tuckasegee

the tuck

The Tuckasegee, also called the Tuck, is a little class II river that is far from impressive when you raft it. Great for families with small children that just want to float down the river with a few splashes now and then. That being said, I have heard from many of my friends who took the kayaking class at Montreat College, that is it a really cool river to kayak on. Especially for beginner kayakers.  So hopefully when I learn how to kayak, I will be able to experience the Tuck in the best way possible!!

The Colorado River

 

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The Grand Canyon is definitely one of the most breathe taking wonders of the world. The orange rust colored rock and huge chasms that reach down to the heart of the Grand:  The Colorado River.  The Colorado is a very popular and dynamic river. Of course since this river is one of the most popular rivers to raft many guided trips must be scheduled a year or two in advanced!  Much of the Colorado River classifies as class IV-V although there are pieces that are class II-III.

I would run this river as a customer or as a tag along on a friends trip. I have no desire to ever run this river as a guide. Granted you never know what will happen in the future, but I highly doubt guiding down the chasms of the Grand Canyon are in mine.

The Nolichucky

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The Nolichucky River consist of class 3 and 4 rapids and is about an 8 mile long trip. This river has it’s most thrilling rapids in the very beginning mile and a half:  Last Chance (3+), On the Rocks (3+), Jaws (3), and Quarter Mile (4). After this the river is mainly mellower class 3’s. The Nolichucky is also a free flowing river and therefore is only raftable if the weather permits it. This river is runable at 500 cfs but is super scrappy and probably wouldn’t be the most enjoyable run. Normal flow is around 1500-2000 cfs.

I am definitely putting this sucker on my to do list. Either I will do a few fun runs or I will guide this sucker!