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!

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. 🙂