Trip Reports

Nantahala Outdoor Center

YCCC at the NOC

Bill living life on the L'edge At the end of March, four YCCC members (Bill K., Cathy O., Steffen R., and me – Helen R.) headed down to North Carolina to attend a 5-day solo whitewater canoe clinic at the Nantahala Outdoor Centre (NOC). The Nantahala Outdoor Centre claims to be one of the best paddling schools in the United States so we had great expectations of our clinic and are happy to say we were not disappointed.

We met our instructor Randy early Monday morning, he was a fine Southern gentleman with over 25 year experience teaching paddling. We had a chance to talk to him about our paddling experience over breakfast. Bill and Cathy had a couple of years solo experience but Helen and Steffen had a few year experience in tandem only. Randy was an absolute pro, able to gauge the levels of our skills and adapt the days on the river to what we could do. Our first day after a brief warm up Randy had us paddling the local rivers, catching every possible eddy, ferrying (even ferrying with our eyes closed), surfing, going down wave trains sideways without paddling and generally having a great time on what Randy affectionately called Boogie Water (non-stop class II rapids).

Our first day was on the Oconaluftee River, an easy river but with lots of options for skill practice. Our second day was on the Tuckasegee River, a little harder river and the site of a few bad swims. The rest of the week was spent running the beautiful Nantahala River which had a fast flow after much rain, beautiful little falls running down the mountainside, moss covered trees and lots of spring flowers.

Some things we learned in our lessons were quite different than what we were used too with the YCCC. Randy was not a boat chaser and was insistent on self rescue. It was interesting how motivational it was to hold onto your boat when you knew no one was going to chase it down for you. He asked that we leave the painters lying on our air bags (rather than tucked in), for quicker self rescue. He had no time for excuses as to why you missed the eddy, we just had to make sure to catch it the next time.

On Wednesday we had the chance to watch the very thrilling first annual Cascades Creek boat race. We watched mostly kayakers careen down ledges, between boulders and in an out of holes. We were pretty excited to see one open boat zip past (check it out). When the competition was over we attended the awards ceremony and had a chance to meet our lone open boater. He turned out to be Eli Helbert, one of the best open boaters in the world. He was really friendly and pretty stoked to have four fans milling around him and after a photo shoot, he took time to chat with us about some techniques, Canadian rivers and where to look for him in the coming months.

NOC is a pretty busy place. It is located along the Appalachian Trail so there is an endless stream on hikers in addition to the paddlers, rafters and Smokey Mountain Tourists.

In addition to our fabulous instruction and great times on the river, it is really fun to be totally immersed in thick paddling culture for a week. We all had a great time and already have plans to return next year.



alt guess how this run ended...
altOur instructor asked "why do all Canadians come here in dry suits, then complain it is too hot?"