Monday, August 31, 2009

NOC & Gone Riding Announce Tsali Challenge Winners

This year's Tsali Triathlon Challenge was a huge success with 260 participants in all classes throughout the weekend. This year the Tsali Challenge was organized by Nantahala Outdoor Center and GoneRiding, organizers of over 35 trail and mountain bike events in the Southeast.

The Tsali Challenge is a decade old race that brings competitors from all over the South to the beautiful Nantahala Gorge and National Forest. Competitors compete in a mountain style triathlon, a take on the classic triathlon, that includes a 3 mile kayak paddle, a 4 mile trail run, and 12 mile single track mountain bike course.

Special Thanks to Kent at Motion Makers Bikes of Sylva for providing the Prizes, Bicycle Repair and Gear for the event.

This event is not possible without the support of our great partners as well as the support of the community. Thank you to the Swain County Rescue Squad, Smoky Mountain Jetboats, and the Nantahala National Forest Service Cheoah Ranger District.

Congrats to NOC sponsored athletes for taking 2nd in the Women's Team Event; Team NOC Chicks- Maria Noakes, Aaliza Duncan, & Anne Santheimer. A special call out goes to NOC Retail Director Chris Hipgrave, who on Saturday participated in the Lake Lure Triathlon then drove back to Tsali to compete in the Men's Open Race. To top off the weekend Chris paddled for Team V02 Sports who won the overall team event on Sunday! Awesome showing for NOC and a great event for all who participated!

We will have more on the event soon, but please look through the photos and results below for the top finishers.

9am Start
1. Dwight Shuler
2. John Halight
3. Stale Horine

1. Karen Masson
2. Nina Otter
3. Meghan Cox

1. Cory Hall
2. Justin Tucker
3. JP Bevilaqua

Sunday Top 3 Team Results



Friday, August 28, 2009

Labor Day Specials at NOC

September 4-7 is the last official weekend of summer, Labor Day Weekend. Come enjoy the outdoors on your three-day weekend with NOC, where we're featuring rafting adventures, live music and specials activities.

To kick things off, our Alpine Tower will be open for seven climbing samplers throughout the weekend:

Friday, Sept. 4 – 5:30pm-7:30pm
Saturday, Sept. 5 – 3pm-5pm
Saturday, Sept. 5 – 5:30pm-7:30pm
Sunday, Sept. 6 – 1pm-3pm
Sunday, Sept. 6 – 3pm-5pm
Sunday, Sept. 6 – 5:30pm-7:30pm
Monday, Sept. 7 — 10am-12pm

Climbers must be at least seven years old and must be wearing close-toed shoes. You can make a reservation for one of these sampler sessions at or in-person, once you get here at the Wesser General Store.

Another highlight is a special open climbing session on NOC's Ropes Challenge Course, which is typically reserved for visiting groups. The Ropes Challenge Course will be open Monday morning at 9am. Check out some of the unique challenges of the Ropes Course in this video:

Make sure you register for this rare opportunity before 5pm on Saturday, September 5.

If you're coming to NOC to raft this Labor Day, stay a while and enjoy live music at The Pourover. Friday night, hear The Barn Cats perform at 7pm, featuring members of the famous Freight Hoppers. Saturday night, it's Largemouth Buzz, also performing at 7pm. The Pourover is NOC's riverside pub, located on the deck at Slow Joe's Cafe.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spectator's Guide To the Tsali Challenge Triathlon

Even if you're not up for racing in Tsali's most popular competition, next weekend's Tsali Challenge Triathlon can be a great spectator event. Volunteer to assist your competitor friend, or simply come by to cheer on the athletes. The Tsali Challenge Triathlon is next Saturday and Sunday August 29 and 30.

If you're accompanying an athlete, the first set of races begin Saturday at 9am. That's when the Open Women, Masters Women, Masters Men and Grandmasters classes all start the first leg of the race, the lake paddle. A good friend might keep a backpack handy with extra water, bananas and a spare bike tube, just in case. Athletes typically arrive fully prepared with all of these things, but your extra help could really be a morale booster in those transition zones when the afternoon sun starts to shine down on Tsali, even if it's just some friendly encouraging words.

Spectators can expect to watch the exciting run-to-bike transition of the first race, before heading back down to the lake for the launch of the exciting Men's Open Class, which begins at 1pm. After that, set yourself back up at the run-to-bike transition spot, where you can also watch competitors crossing the finish line.

Tsali Recreation Area remains open to the public, with access to Mouse Branch Loop and Thompson Loop for running or bike riding (non-competitively, of course). So if the race gets boring, just head out one of the other trails!

Map courtesy of the USFS. In this map, Right Loop is blue, Left Loop is green, Mouse Branch Loop is yellow and Thompson Loop is red.

Sunday's team challenge competitors usually don't require assistance, so maybe you want to grab a few office mates and compete. NOC has a long tradition of staff members competing in the Tsali Challenge Triathlon. Pictured below is NOC Guest Relations Manager Leigh (left) along with Tracy and Melanie, the 2002 winning women's team.

Here's Leigh again (center) with her 2003 teammates Kathy and Melanie. This year, Leigh will not be racing, but you and your friends can still register the day of the race. Remember, it's a 3-mile lake paddle, a 5-mile trail run and a 12-mile bike ride. Divvying up the three legs of this race is a fun way to challenge yourself and enjoy a day at Tsali.

For more information, visit or go to race organizer Gone Riding.

Monday, August 17, 2009

NOC Adventure Travel Unveils Epic New Trip: Whitewater & Medical Relief Volunteerism in the Bolivian Jungle

We're thrilled to bring you news about our Adventure Travel department's newest trip, the Boaters Without Borders Expedition to Bolivia. Next August, the premier trip of Boaters Without Borders, MedicForce and NOC leaves for the Bolivian jungle and the Rio Tuichi, flowing through Madidi National Park and one of South America's largest tracts of protected land.

To give you an idea of what this is all about, I talked with NOC's head of Adventure Travel and SOLO Wilderness Medicine, Jonathon Bryant. He'll be the expedition leader for this trip.

What is Boaters Without Borders?
Basically, the idea is to provide immediate care and long-term training in isolated areas. Specifically, Boaters Without Boarders is a new series of expedition-based adventures offered by NOC in association with medical relief charity MedicForce. These adventures utilize NOC's years of whitewater expertise with medical relief volunteerism in remote riverside communities around the world. BWB expeditions involve a team of kayakers, medical professionals and expert raft guides, exploring unfamiliar rivers and addressing basic medical conditions in communities along the way.

How did this idea come about?
In 2008, I founded MedicForce as a non-profit organization connecting medicial professionals to remote jungle communities in need of medical care and basic first-aid education. The first expedition was to Borneo, in the South Pacific and I just got back from a second trip there. I've also done a motorcycle ride from here in North Carolina to Guatemala, a little reconnaissance mission, really. I know a lot of kayakers here at NOC who are just as fired up to visit these remote places and lend a hand however possible.

How did you decide on Bolivia?
I read this book about a reed raft expedition on a river in Bolivia. They took the raft from the jungle to the ocean, all via the Amazon. The whole story sounded so amazing, so I though "we need to go here!" When I began researching more about Bolivia, I found Sergio Ballivian, the first guy to navigate the Rio Tuichi in 1995. I'm really psyched to be working with Sergio, he's definitely the guru for the river and the area. 2005 was the last descent of the Tuichi, so it should be really exciting. We'll definitely be pushing the boundaries of kayaking, boating and medical outreach. (Check out this awesome article about Sergio's 2001 descent of the Rio Tuichi.)

What's the trip going to be like?
An expedition, full of adventure and the unexpected. We'll be in Bolivia for 21 days, leaving the capital city of La Paz and traveling overland to the Rio Tuichi. We'll float the Tuichi all the way to its confluence with the Rio Beni, stopping in communities along the way to provide care where needed. There will be hiking, light paddling, extreme paddling and everything in between. I absolutely can't wait.
For complete trip information, click here.

Special Presentation this Sunday
This Sunday, August 23 Jono will give a slide presentation about his most recent trip to Borneo at The Pourover, at NOC’s Nantahala River resort beginning at 7pm. The presentation is titled “Headhunters with Toothbrushes," and is free and open to the public. This year, a team of six medical students, a Malaysian doctor, a dentist and one of the US’s leading eye surgeons from Seattle treated 920 patients, pulled 150 teeth, diagnosed 30 cataracts and prescribed over 200 pairs of glasses in the jungle of Borneo.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Reggae by the River, this Saturday Night

This Saturday August 15, NOC welcomes Tennessee-based reggae group Natti Love Joys to The Pourover, beginning at 8pm, part of our Reggae by the River event. Show up early and enjoy an authentic jerk chicken plate served at The Pourover, then get ready to dance and enjoy a great night of music by the river.

The Natti Love Joys are well known throughout the Southeast, playing jazz festivals and events from Atlanta to Nashville and beyond. Led by husband/wife duo Jati and Maria Allen, they entertain crowds with familiar reggae favorites as well as originals with diverse roots. The group also hosts two summer events on their property near Ducktown, TN (yep, the Ocoee) called Camp Reggae, where musicians converge to play and enjoy the beautiful mountain backdrop. Here is a review of their music from their MySpace page.

"...With roots that stem from the legendary greats such as Bob Marley, Toots and the Maytals and Jimmy Cliff, the sound of The Natti Love Joys is a dynamic blend of reggae, modern rhythm and blues, drum and bass, hip hop, and various forms of jazz. This creative style of music gives way to a unique, one of a kind sound that captivates and amazes its crowd show after show."

Stop by the NOC Outfitter's Store, where you'll find special sales on green, yellow and red kayaking gear by Sweet, Shred Ready and Werner. Nowhere else in western North Carolina can you enjoy Reggae by the River!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hike: Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald

Clingman's Dome, the highest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is about an hour from NOC's Nantahala River Campus. If you take an early rafting trip, or if you're lingering in the area for a while you should consider at least a quick hike in the Park, and it's pretty easy to get to Clingman's Dome; just drive through the Park on 441 and turn at the "Clingman's Dome" sign. You'll follow this road for about seven miles before getting to the Clingman's Dome parking area.

Now here's the trick: don't hike up to the Clingman's Dome's UFO-looking observation tower, at least don't just do that. It's crowded, and, especially in the summer, it feels like you're at EPCOT more than in the Park. Instead, take the trail branching off at the beginning of the Clingman's Dome path, Forney Ridge Trail. From here you can enjoy an easy 3.5 mile round-trip hike to the highest bald in the Smokies through an aromatic spruce forest that must be the inspiration for Christmas stores everywhere. Sure you won't be at the top of the mountain, but usually the views on Clingman's are hazy anyway, and you're still above 6,000 feet almost the entire hike. Here's the reward:

This beautiful mountain meadow features wildflowers and blueberries (in late summer) and epic vistas (year round). It's much better than the observation platform, and it's bristling with wildlife too. We got there early in the morning, and we saw a hog run off through the bushes, and there were all kinds of songbirds.

Can anyone do this hike? Well, the cardio-vascular effort isn't very demanding; the elevation only changes around 900 feet over the entire hike, but the trail is rugged for the first half. Bad ankles and knees won't do well, and if it's wet it could be pretty slick. Other than that, the hike is more of a stroll than an expedition. Here are some trail shots:
A couple of important notes: 1) there are two trail interesections, so make sure you remember you're going to "Andrews Bald" via the Forney Ridge Trail, not the Forney Creek Trail (see the photo of the signs below) 2) Go in the early morning or late afternoon. The light's better (see photo above), and the crowds are smaller. I try to time a hike in a busy place like this with dinner or breakfast to keep crowd interaction minimal.
This is a good example to live by in the Smokies. With just a small bit of effort and know-how you can beat the crowds and have a wonderful experience. By the way, I saw a black bear on the drive out yesterday. A nice cherry on top!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

National Geographic Adventure Calls Chattooga "A Dream Come True for Rafters"

It's true. The folks at National Geographic Adventure call the Chattooga River trip one of six "must-do rafting trips." It was the only Eastern river to make the list, joining a roster of Western classics including the Rogue, Salmon, Rio Chama, Kern and Wolf rivers. The magazine also recommends Nantahala Outdoor Center as the outfitter for readers' Chattooga adventures. Very cool!

While we love all our river adventures here at NOC, there's no doubt that the Chattooga, with its protected Wild and Scenic status and famous history (starring in the film Deliverance) is the Southeast's classic whitewater adventure.

Monday, August 3, 2009

NOC/Dagger Freestyle Shootout Recap

Wow, what a weekend! This year's event had huge turnout, great atmosphere, exciting Saturday evening entertainment at The Pourover and one of the best showdowns in freestyle history between Andrew Holcombe and Tommy Yon (below) in the Men's Pro category.

Though Tommy had the edge on Andrew in technical (how many boat rotations he performed and at what angle to the water) and style (the judge's interpretation of how fun, showy or entertaining a ride is), Andrew had a decisive edge in the variety score (range of freestyle moves performed) throwing an unmatched mcnasty, macho move and a right-side eddywheel. Andrew's 55-point variety margin bested Tommy's 38-point technical advantge and one-point style edge, resulting in a 16 point victory (3.1% of Andrew's total score).

While Andrew threw an impressive range of moves, including a no-hands loop (above), the most memorable moment of the event belonged to Tommy Yon. In his third and final ride Tommy threw away his paddle and threw down an unbelieviable combination of retentive moves on the difficult feature. His ride culminated in a paddle-free retentive back loop that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

Andrew and Tommy's battle wasn't just a one-day affair. Andrew pulled out a nine-point victory in Saturday's qualifier that was just as epic, though Saturday's action lacked some of the drama of Sunday's showdown. While Andrew and Tommy were certainly "in the zone", Mike Patterson (below) also put on an amazing show, though he couldn't quite hang in there with the top two.

While none of the other categories matched the drama of the Men's Pro class, there were some tight finishes: Taylor Cofer eeked out a nine-point victory over Casey Jones in the K1 Jr division, Philip Young managed a five-point victory over Paul Butler in the K1 Open Novice, and Anna Levesque managed a victory in her first freestyle event in four years, besting first round winner Maria Noakes by 13 in the Women's Pro class. The Men's Expert category featured a solid contest won by Sean Corbett against Ryan Baudrand and Philip Young defeated Matt Anger to win a small C1 class.

A full photo album of Sunday's action is posted on NOC's facebook page.

Final Standings

Men's Pro:
1) 510 Andrew Holcombe
2) 494 Tommy Yon
3) 327 Mike Patterson
4) 271 Corey Volt
5) 204 Daniel Dutton
6) 185 Richard "Rio" Oldenquist

Women's Pro:
1) 135 Anna Levesque
2) 122 Maria Noakes
3) 115 Leela Samuels
4) 66 Jasmeen Moubarak
5) 34 Amanda Getler

Men's Expert:
1) 229 Sean Corbett
2) 207 Ryan Baudrand
3) 174 Mark "Snowy" Robertson
4) 160 Shayne Day
5) 159 Dustin Cyr
6) 112 Brett Tornwall

K1 Open Novice:
1) 117 Phillip Young
2) 112 Paul Buter
3) 107 Trenton Wiggins
4) 75 Mike Dorsey
5) 62 Taylor Winfield
6) 53 Tony Anthony
7) 30 Chris Laskey

1) 112 Philip Young
2) 61 Matt Anger

K1 Jr:
1) 169 Taylor Cofer
2) 162 Casey Jones
3) 136 Quillian Snyder
4) 130 Matt Wright
5) 96 Will Rudisill
6) 68 Mason Farmer
7) 64 Connor McSpadden

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Freestyle Shootout: Day 1 Event Results

Pro Tommy Yon fires up the crowd.

Alright big air fans, here's the results from the first day of competition in the NOC/Dagger Freestyle Shootout. We couldn't have asked for better weather, better competitors or a better crowd. The top seven competitors in each class will be back again tomorrow for the finals. We hope to see you there!

Junior Division
(name) (points)
Will Rudsill 140
Matt Wright 139
Quillan Snyder 131
Casey Jones 106
Taylor Coker 82
Mason Farmer 57
Palmer Miller 49
Conner McFadden 31

Philip Young 91
Matt Angert 74

Open Novice
Paul Butler 125
Trenton Wiggins 118
Phillip Young 88
Mike Dorsey 53
Chris Laskey 43
Taylor Winfield 38
Tony Anthony 24

Expert Class
Shane Day 202
Sean Corbett 167
Ryan Beaudrand 151
Justin Cyr 136
Brett Tornwall 136
Mark Robertson 130
Matt Angert 126
Andrew Koch 117
Chris Erdahl 104
Matthew West 104
Tyler San Souci 99

Open Women
Maria Noakes 110
Anna Levesque 91
Jasmeen Moubarak 62
Leyla Samuels 38
Amanda Gettler 28

The Pros
Andrew Holcombe 473
Tommy Yon 464
Mike Patterson 380
Rio Oldenquist 229
Corey Volt 210
Jeremy Adkins 209
Daniel Dutton 200