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! 🙂
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!!
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?
Some time back I was finally able to have the opportunity to go down whitewater in a kayak. It was such an amazing experience!! I got to go down the Tuckasegee River in Bryson City, NC. A good class two training ground for beginner kayakers. Granted, I swam twice through the trip but, it was a really good learning experience. I worked on ferrying, eddy catching, and reading water from that low of an angle. I am not gonna lie, I really missed my raft when i was going through these class 2 rapids. I enjoy being able to prepare for what is ahead of me and I get like I couldn’t do that as well while I was in a kayak.
It was funny though, how humbled I was. These class 2 rapids scared the living crap out of me! I felt like I was the most unstable thing on the river. Being so much closer to everything can make you so much more vulnerable. Plus, I thought with my past whitewater experience would give me a slight advantage. How wrong I was. Ferrying is something I can do really well in a raft. So I thought that I would be able to do it in a kayak because, I thought I understood the angle. I was dead wrong. I about flipped trying to do my first ferry. Talk about humiliating. Also, did I mention this is one of my first dates with my current boyfriend? Oh yeah, the pressure was seriously on.
Not only did I almost flip over doing a ferry but, I had one of the most epic failures of a seal launch. It happened after not even being on the river for five minutes. We had paddled down to the first rapid called Stitches and it is a class three rapid. I decided against going down it because I didn’t have enough confidence in my ability. So i walk around and get ready for a seal launch. Needless to say, it ended very badly. I window shaded right into the current and missed a T-Rescue because I thought my boyfriend’s boat was a rock. I was less than happy of how the trip was beginning. Everything went okay after that until I eddy flipped after successfully going through a class two and again I missed the T-Rescue.
I feel like I really need to get my roll down because, I am less than fond of swimming and I seem to be missing way too many T-Rescues for my liking. I also wish I had more time to practice kayaking because i have been out since this past Tuskasegee trip. Its kinda disheartening.
Well wish me luck!
Friday 11, 2014
This past Wednesday I was able to get back to my kayaking practice after a two week break. I had to take some time off because I some problems with my two big toe nails and the doctor told me to stay out of the pool for a while so that I could heal up. I listened to his advice because I personally don’t want to get some funky infection in my two big toes. I have dealt with staph before (shudders) and I will do everything in my power not to have it again!
However, I later learned from my friend Rachel and my other friend Anna that UNCA had to drain their pool because it had a substantial crack in it. This then caused all of the roll sessions to be canceled for the rest of the semester. So even if I had been physically able to go, there wouldn’t have been anyone there or any water.
I thought I was out of luck. I didn’t know where else I would be able to go and work on my roll without paying a lot of money. I don’t have a boat, a paddle, or a spray skirt. So I can’t go out to the lake and practice either. I was stumped and super down. Thankfully my friend Anna came through again and told me about the roll sessions that take place at Warren Wilson College. Not only is this college closer the sessions but, gear is free to use as well. My thought to myself at this point was, “Why haven’t I been going there this whole time?!”
Later that week on Wednesday, I went to Warren Wilson to see how this clinic would go. I get there and the student instructors are super chill and let me have free range on their gear shed. I got to give my props to Warren Wilson because they have a huge selection of kayaks and they are well maintained. Plus, the equally large plethora of paddles, spray skirts, and PFDs was wonderful. Once I had gotten situated with my blue Liquid Logic Hoss, paddle, and NRS skirt I trekked over to their pool and got started. For the two hours I was there I got a good bit of one on one time with one of the instructors and it made a world of difference. He helped me with my paddle positioning and adding speed to my mechanics. He was super encouraging a equally as patient. Near the end of the session I almost got my roll so many times but, I was super tired and I kept breaking position with my head. So I didn’t get my roll this time but, I am really hopeful that this up coming Wednesday I will. 🙂
All in all my journey is making huge progress and I am so stoked to see where it will lead me.