Thursday, July 17, 2014

June paddling at NOC

Near the end of June Zack and I spent a few days on the main campus of the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

We arrived late on a Friday night, grabbed our check-in materials, and unloaded our stuff in our room at the Nantahala Inn.

Saturday morning we got to sleep in a bit before a morning rafting trip down the Nantahala River.  I'm not used to dam release rivers, so the notion of only 8 floatable miles was new to me.  There were six guests and our guide Rich in the raft.  After some quick instruction and practice we eased into the current of the frigid (48 to 52 degree water) Nantahala.  A few hours later, and the Nantahala Falls drop, we were back at the main campus after an enjoyable and uneventful trip.  I was grateful to Rich for the information he shared.

After a relaxing lunch of BBQ we headed over to the zip-line adventure park.  Zack was hesitant at first, but after making it across both levels of obstacles he was ready for the zip-line.  After one trip down he was quick to head up for another.  Who knows how many times he did the zip-line before doing both levels of obstacles again.

A short hike down the AT also kept us busy.

Sunday was our most relaxing day at NOC.  We had originally planned to do the duckies in the morning but after experiencing the water temps we moved the trip to the afternoon when the air temps would be higher.  Still, after experiencing the cold water on Saturday we grabbed some neoprene for sitting in the water for a few hours.

The area was absolutely beautiful.  The fog on the river could make it a challenge to see your entire party though.  We had times of sun, but it got cloudy and rained a bit each day.

I was hesitant to let Zack go on his own, but the guides seemed confident.  He had no problems as the sequence of photos from Nantahala Falls suggests.

During any down time Zack did a lot of looking at knives at the Outfitter Store while I tried to find a helmet I liked.  We ended up walking away with stickers, a frisbee, water bottle, t-shirts, and a hoodie.

Monday was the day I was most anticipating.  We were slated for a full day of kayak instruction.  When it started raining in the middle of the night I started getting concerned and when we woke to the pouring rain and went to check in I was not looking forward to being cold and wet all day.

After meeting our master guide Andrew we headed to the gear shed.  With the rain I grabbed the neoprene to keep us warm.  Thankfully it stopped raining.  After a boat fitting we were off to a nice finger of Lake Fontana.  

We practiced some strokes and did some flat water work.  Zack and I both slid down a hill and off a small ledge into the water.  Zack filled his boat with water to work on his balance and ended up doing some modified bow stalls.  I attempted to work on my roll, but just don't work on it enough to be consistent.

I should have worked on it more, but the skirt was so tight we could hardly get it on.  My thumbs ached the next few days from wrestling with the skirt.

It was my hope to then kayak the Nantahala, but Zack is still too afraid of wearing a skirt and my roll is too inconsistent.  Instead we hit the Little Tennessee for a nice afternoon trip.  After dropping us off at the put-in Andrew took the car to the take-out and ran back.  He literally ran the shuttle.

The river was up a bit from the night before so it was a bit muddy.

We put in just down stream from this suspension bridge.  Zack liked making it shake.

When Andrew returned from his run we did some brief work on entering and exiting the current and headed off.

We stopped along the way to swim a small rapid and then Zack learned to surf a kayak.  After that he was trying to do it anywhere he could.

The boat Zack paddled was meant for kids so he could manipulate it better than what he has at home.  Of course he wants one now.

I'm ready for whitewater boat too.  Just going to have to decide what to sell.

The photos don't show it, but there were actually a couple of nice small rapids for our kayak trip.  The biggest was right at the finish.

It started raining again just as we were loading up.

Overall it was a great three days at NOC.  We'll be looking to go back and perhaps take their weekend paddling course.