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! 🙂
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!!
Well there’s nothing really special about today. Its just another event-less Saturday that will be filled with friends, homework, and all around laziness. So different to my Saturdays during the summer. I am getting serious whitewater withdrawal. I wish I could go kayaking because I just want to get back on the river. At least i might be able to go to Gauley Fest next weekend. My first time and I have high hopes of how much fun it will be. I just have to find a new group to go down the river with since, the people I was originally gonna go down with are now going to some kayaking thing in MD. Although oddly enough, even if I don’t get to go down the river, I think it would still be a blast to go. All the vendors, music, and people just scream new experiences and adventure.
along with my adventure planning I have been practicing my roll again. Thankfully App State has a huge outdoors program which means they have a really good roll clinic. All the instructors that I have met there have been super nice, very knowledgeable able their specific role and the do a great job showing you step by step of how to accomplish your roll. I have vastly improved from my first roll clinic at App. I am so close to getting my roll. Literally all the instructor has to do is stretch my paddle back and up like an inch and a half and then I can roll back up. (Btw I am working on a C2C roll, sweep roll is slightly beyond my comprehension at this point) I think my problem is that I am not the flexible enough to get to that paddle position on my own. So for the next week I am going to be stretching out my sides and shoulders in hopes of being to nail that roll next week on Wednesday. Cause once I know I can get it, I will work on getting it very consistently in the pool and hopefully take it to the river and begin working on my combat roll. Duh Duh Duh Duh…..
Another good thing about the roll clinic at App State is the consistent supply of boats. They have a very large fleet of Wavesport EZGs ranging from 42 gal. to 60 gal. that they use mainly for the clinics in order to maintain a descent amount of free space in the pool. They also have a lot of Liquid Logic Remixes ranging from 59 gal. to 79 gal. The instructors have been gracious enough to let me use one of the Remix 69s. I would rather be learning in this boat than the EZG because this is what I will most likely be paddling on the river. That or a Pyranha Shiva but the school doesn’t have any of those. The Remix is a ton of fun and super fast, love the edges, and it is definitely teaching me a lot of balance and how to obtain a separate lower body movement verse upper body movement.
Well that pretty much sums up where I am at the moment. Hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend! Also I threw up some more pictures from my summerr on my blog!! check out the photo gallery and look at my work at class 3 Nantahala Falls!
So I am still waiting on a reply to my many applications that I sent out, and I am not gonna lie, I’m getting nervous. I want to be on the river again like crazy. I crave the adreneline and experience that only whitewater can give. Plus, I want to have easy access to a place where I can continue my kayaking journey. So in other words the Nantahala would be the best option for me this up coming summer.
I know in the beginning I was all about the bigger river experience but, now I am realizing where my priorities actually sit. Plus, with a bunch of stuff that is happening with my family it would be nice to be closer to home. Also my mom is only so willing to drive me so far since I don’t have a car anymore. NEVER total your father’s car because, you will never hear the end of it and it will put you in a new level of debt that you didn’t know existed. Hopefully everything will work out.
I have always wanted to learn how to whitewater kayak ever since I had discovered what it was. I just never really acted on it until this last Wednesday when I went to the UNCA roll clinic.
The struggle started way before I even set foot in the pool. I knew how to get to the UNCA campus but I honestly didn’t know where on earth the student Rec center was. So I get to campus and for about 15 minutes drive around aimlessly trying to find a sign or something that indicated the roll clinic. Just when I was about to give up, I saw someone lugging a kayak down a ramp. Of course I freaked and found the closest parking space an ran after the kid with the boat. I don’t think I can relay the feeling of relief I had within that time span of 8 minutes.
The minute I stepped into the pool room I felt the excitement building. I wa finally gonna start my journey with whitewater kayaking! I only had to pay 7 bucks to participate. The program had all the gear I needed and quite a few awesome instructors. I ended up being helped mainly by this girl Drea. She was really laid back, friendly, and definitely knew what she was doing. She got me fitted in a boat (a Pyranha of course) and then talked me through the beginnings of rolling.
There were a ton of people just messing around and getting some practice rounds in. It was so cool to watch all the people at different levels doing their thing. Although probably the coolest thing I saw was this older gentleman with his whitewater canoe and rolling it. I never knew you could do that!!!!!
I can honestly say that I did improve over the two hours I spent in the pool. I only had to do three wet exits and my paddling has improved ten fold from my last kayak experience. I personally think half my problem with the roll is my inability to keep my head down so it is the last thing that comes up right.
I can’t even wait till next Wednesday, I want to learn so bad!!