Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 NOC Special Events Sneak Preview

After a year like 2013, when NOC hosted US Freestyle Team Trials and the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, it would be easy to write off 2014 as a gap year before the 2015 Wildwater Junior World Championships. However, that's not the case. The 2014 NOC events schedule offers a strong variety of revitalized on-the-water events and some all-new land-based races that we're excited to announce.

River Races and Competitions

NOC is excited to renew our commitment to the Nantahala Racing Club and to hosting more youth paddling events in 2014. With the help of our partners, we'll be rolling out new ways to get young paddlers involved in slalom, wildwater, and freestyle competitions and clinics, as well as hosting casual weekend paddling sessions run by professional instructors and coaches.  The highlight of the season will be the 2014 Junior Olympics (August 9th – 11th). Sponsored by USA Canoe/Kayak, this event features serious competition in all three whitewater disciplines alongside lighthearted games and social events.

Making friends and racing kayaks is what the 2014 Junior Olympics is all about.

In June, July and August, expect more clinics, quicker results, and of course a new 2014 T-shirt as Carolina Canoe Club, Georgia Canoeing Association and Nantahala Racing Club step up to help us expand and improve the Canoe Club Challenge. Best of all, Canoe Club Challenge proceeds will be donated to the partner paddling clubs for use in their programming and outreach.

NOC's biggest freestyle event of the season will take place September 4-6, as we once again host the international freestyle community, this time for the ICF Canoe Freestyle Pan-American Championships. The best paddlers from the Western Hemisphere return to show off the results of another year of training, and amp up for the 2015 Worlds.

New and Improved Events

Of course we’ll also be looking hard at the classic events like GAF and NOCtoberfest. Last year we listened to popular opinion and brought the GAF Used Gear Marketplace back to river left, which meant more space, more booths, and a better time had by all. Send suggestions for 2014 our way on NOC's Facebook page or by emailing

Searching for sweet deals in the Guest Marketplace at GAF 2013

And runners take note, on April 5th, we're also debuting new races like our first half-marathon, the Nantahala Hilly Half & 5K in partnership with Run Bum Tours. And this Memorial Day, don’t miss NOC’s Adventure Dash – a fun 2K obstacle race suitable for the whole family, hosted right here at NOC’s Wesser Campus, featuring plenty of fun elements to shake things up.

Participants will enjoy challenging climbs, scenic views, and great singletrack at the Nantahala Hilly Half & 5K.

Stay tuned for the full 2014 Event Schedule! Check out to download the final events calendar and for more details on how to get involved.

2014 Paddling School Season Outlook

The Paddling School's 2014 calendar is set. Changes have been made, courses have been added and updated, the instructors are excited and paddlesports popularity is continuing to grow! Here's the rundown on what to expect:

Time For a Change
The most obvious change Paddling School guests will notice this season is the check-in location. Instead of meeting on the Adventure Deck as in previous summers, guests will meet instructors in the new Padddlesports Center, located upstairs in the Outfitter’s Store. Here guests can easily find their instructors, discuss program goals and ask questions about gear and equipment before beginning the day. This change will provide guests a more comfortable and private start to the day.

The Start of Something New
  •              New for 2014 is a two-day ACA Update Course.  Any paddling instructor needing to update a Level Four ACA kayaking certification can attend one of several courses we have scheduled during the season. This is the quickest and easiest way to update and maintain a level four certification. To see level four ACA qualifications click here.


  •       Also new is the five-day all-inclusive Women’s Adventure Getaway, which is scheduled for fall of 2014. “The Women’s Adventure Getaway is a new concept for NOC,” commented Jae Jackson, Paddling School Assistant Manager. “The program will center primarily on kayaking and stand-up-paddle boarding but will also include mountain biking, hiking and other outdoor adventures. The program gives adventure-loving women an opportunity have a good time doing what they love, but also to encourage not-so-adventurous women to get out and try something new.” Click here for more information on women’s paddling courses.

Growing Popularity
Our youth programs continue to grow each season as more and more kids discover the excitement of paddling. To accommodate the most kids possible, we have developed a few different options that appeal to youth paddlers of all levels. These include the following:
  •            For youth strictly interested in paddling, we offer all-inclusive and multi-day campkayak instruction options.
  •            For youth interested in outdoor leadership, we have a seven-day all-inclusive YouthLeadership Camp, which includes swiftwater training and Wilderness First Aid Certification. 
  •            And for those who enjoy camping out, we offer two traveling freestyle camps for intermediate youth paddlers. For five days students travel to our river outposts to learn and refine freestyle skills on some of the best freestyle features in the Southeast. 

Additionally, the Nantahala Racing Club (NRC) and NOC have renewed their relationship with a shared commitment in youth leadership development. Together we will be hosting a series of youth-focused events throughout the 2014 season. For more information on these events, keep an eye on the NRC event page and the NOC event page.

The 2014 Paddling School season is going to be great! Be sure to keep up with us via the website for information about all the courses offered at NOC. We look forward to seeing you out on the water!

2014 SOLO Southeast Wilderness Medicine Calendar

The 2014 SOLO Southeast calendar is set, so check your certifications and see if you have anything that's up for renewal in 2014. There are a few minor changes from last season: 

  • SOLO's popular Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder courses will be held every month in 2014. So SOLO students now have more options available when looking to schedule a course that works with their busy schedules.

  • SOLO Southeast has also added more evening CPR courses to accommodate the large volume of students and guides looking for this course. Note that the the AHA certification requires renewal every two years.

  • Also, the WFR Costa Rica trip has been removed. Let the SOLO office know if you're interested in renewing your certification on an international trip. We're always up for the idea, but we need a big enough group of students willing to commit to the trip. 

Finally, here's the full 2014 SOLO calendar. Click here to see it in full size or to print a copy.

Not sure what to look for on here? For students and prospects interested in pursuing a career in the outdoor industry, specific wilderness medicine courses provides a competitive advantage, and in many instances are a prerequisite for employment. The two major certifications are WFR and WEMT.

Wilderness First Responder: As Sara Hunter, SOLO Southeast Operations Manager points out, "This nine-day course is the standard certification required to lead trips in the wilderness. The course is designed to take someone with little to no medical experience and help them become confident in their own skills and leadership in the outdoors.”

Over the nine days students spend time inside and outside the classroom practicing the following skills:
·      Critical patient assessment
·      Splinting
·      Wound care
·      Medical evacuation decisions
·      Emergency Scenario Management

The total cost for the WFR course is $650 which includes CRP certification as well as a 20% discount on NOC lodging options and a 10% discount on NOC dining options for all students. For the full scoop on the WFR visit

Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician Intensive: the most comprehensive course offered is the Wilderness EMT Intensive (WEMT) course. Basic EMT training lasts three weeks and a special five-day wilderness module at the end prepares students for wilderness protocols and procedures that are significantly different than those standards used in emergency rooms. Students will work through the Department of Transportation EMT curriculum and will be qualified to take both the NREMT exam and the North Carolina EMT exam. During the course of the four-week class, students should expect the following:
·      Classroom learning sessions
·      Practical skill labs
·      Two six-hour clinicals at the local EMS or walk-in clinic
·      CPR certification
·      Wilderness medical skills (such as how to deal with environmental concerns, distance from transportation, improvisation of equipment, etc.)

The total cost for the WEMT intensive course is $2080, and the remaining 2014 courses will begin in late June and late September.  Food and lodging are available with the same discounts as the WFR course. Learn more about the WEMT course by clicking here.

Scenarios: Most SOLO students enjoy the realistic scenarios provided by SOLO staff. NOC employees and volunteers will play the role of car crash victims, bear attack victims, stricken campers, hypothermic hikers and many other typical and bizarre medical situations. These simulated situations allow SOLO staff to observe and coach students' responses to medical emergencies in controlled settings.

The WFR and WEMT courses are only two of the many courses that SOLO Southeast offers. Students may also start with a simple one or two day course. To find out more about the courses offered in 2014 check out the SOLO Southeast website or call 828.488.7243.

Monday, December 9, 2013

2015 ICF Junior Wildwater Canoeing World Championships Come to NOC

Thanks to the success of the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, the Nantahala Gorge has won another bid to host an international championship, this time the 2015 ICF Junior Wildwater Canoeing World Championships.

Winning the event keeps world-class athletes training in the Nantahala Gorge for the next two years. It also changes the spotlight to a new discipline after years of focusing on freestyle. Wildwater racing, one of nine officially-recognized disciplines,  is paddling's equivalent of downhill skiing; it's just a straight ahead race. There aren't any gates like in slalom paddling, and no style points like in freestyle.

Wildwater races feature two different race courses. The "sprint" course is usually 500 to 750 meters. This exciting race usually takes less than two minutes. These results from last year's junior worlds race in Lofer, Austria show times as low as 1:11 in the finals.

Video of a sprint run from the 2011 Wildwater World Championships in Augsburg. 

These close finishes point to exciting spectator events. The entire length of the course will likely be visible from the Founder's Bridge at NOC, and the finish at the 2013 Wave will be very intense, with some racers separated by only tenths of seconds.

The "classic" course is the long-distance counterpart to the sprint. This course is usually around five miles. Last year competitors finished the course in about 10 to 13 minutes in the individual race, and the finishes in the men's finals was still only separated by four seconds. The classic also features an interesting team event where three boats have to paddle together; the best time of the three boat teams wins.

So 2015 is going to be a another really interesting world championship year. But, you don't have to wait until 2015 to get into the wildwater scene. Two early-season Nantahala Racing Club events, the Glacier Breaker and the Bank of America US Open, will have wildwater components. The ACA Open Canoe Downriver Nationals will have a similar format--and this is an open competition (no pun intended--sign up and compete).  If you're interested in participating in a wildwater race for fun this year, come to one of NOC's Canoe Club Challenge races. And finally, the Junior Olympics, a multi-discipline paddling event that returns to the Nantahala River this August, will have several different wildwater competitions for aspiring athletes.

And for those just looking to get involved, the Nantahala Racing Club will be offering wildwater focused programming for youth and casual paddling sessions on the Nantahala. Stay tuned to the NRC website for more information on wildwater racing, as well as freestyle and slalom events.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Santa Returns to NOC Gatlinburg

Mark your calendars! Santa Claus returns to NOC Gatlinburg this December; children everywhere should seize this opportunity for some face time before the big day. Mr. Claus will be in town and available for photo opportunities on the following dates from 3pm to 5pm: November 30, December 7, December 14, and December 21.

NOC Gatlinburg has emerged as one of Santa's preferred meeting locations over the past few years. He admires the the old-fashioned sleigh and the magnificent Christmas tree provided by NOC, and in return he dons his special Dickensian-style uniform for the occasion. Check out this photo from last year's visit and start making your lists!

Santa Claus and his sleigh at NOC Gatlinburg. A perfect holiday photo opportunity!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Four Reasons To Spend Thanksgiving in the Mountains

We always have so much to be thankful for at NOC, and this November there are even more reasons to give thanks. Here's why NOC is a great place to be this November and over the Thanksgiving holiday:

1. Water all month long! Unlike in years past, the Nantahala will continue to have water releases through the month of November, making Thanksgiving an ideal time to go paddling. We're still offering rafting trips too, but we have to be flexible to catch the release times, which are only finalized three days ahead of time. If you want to add rafting to your November plans, give our reservations office a call (800.232.7238), and we'll work out the details with you. Boaters, plan your own trip using  Duke Energy's release schedule.

2. Fall offers new views for zip lining. As the leaves start disappearing from the trees, the Mountaintop Zip Line Tour takes on a whole new look. From any one of our ten zip lines you will be able to see for miles. Visit our website to book your tour.

3. Relax and take in the cool mountain air. Kick back with your feet up by a fire and eat some s’mores! What better way to enjoy the holiday than under the stars by a fire in the mountains? For lodging recommendations, check out these options near our Nantahala campus.

4. Get all your outdoor gear for less! Coming to the mountains, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on all the Black Friday bargains. Catch NOC's Pre-Holiday Sale throughout November, and stop into any of our retail locations for major Black Friday and holiday promotions. On Black Friday shoppers will save as much as 50% off boats and paddling accessories at the Outfitter's Store, so it's certainly worth a trip to the mountains if you're shopping for a paddler.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gear Up for Fall: Harvest Fest 2013

NOC Retail is gearing up for one of the biggest sales of the year.  From October 10th to the 27th,  save up to 30% off the latest fall styles as well as up to 50% off summer clearance at all three NOC retail stores.

 If  you are visiting Gatlinburg, Asheville, or Bryson City don't miss out on this great chance to gear up for Fall in some of the hottest styles from these highly-respected outdoor brands:
The North Face
Mountain Hardwear
and more!

To take advantage of the Harvest Fest, visit all of the NOC Retail Stores:
NOC Outfitter's Store - Bryson City, NC
NOC Asheville - Grove Park Inn, Asheville, NC
NOC Gatlinburg - Gatlinburg, TN