Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Latest News from Taylor Cote

We're suckers for good whitewater!

Everyone snuggled into the hotel room bed laptop in hand, settling back into the comforting coldness of the technology. Making sure to send out those important emails to worried parents, about where their baby has been hiding out for the last week. The hostel was truly a humble, cozy place. Its quaintness and lack of electricity brought us closer together. I think everyone enjoyed having dinner all together at a big table every night; one giant family I suppose? The food was amazing, it really interesting to be eating like a Chilean. For instance, instead of our common grilled cheese or whatever you may call it. They have something call an empanada. It has a fried doughy outer shell and they’ll put whatever you like on the inside. The ones we had though were just cheese and we’re friend to perfection. This place definitely brought us closer together as a group, accepting your friend’s stink because they refuse to take a shower and the ferocious snoring of the slumbering beasts.Of course all this isn’t even the best part.

We were right next to the Claro River. It was another one of those places where we could have school and eat lunch. Then quickly throw on our stinky paddling gear and head out onto the water. While we were there we were able to go to these beautifully formed waterfalls called the Siete Tazas (Seven Teacups). We did everything you could possibly do off them-boof like a madman, freewheel, plug super deep, and even jump. It was truly was a waterfall paradise.

As their name describes they’re definitely teacups…7 of them! Each has a round basalt pools at the bottom and the water flowing from each one was mouthwash blue. Sometimes it made me wonder if we were in some giant’s cup of Kool-Aid. It was so surreal and the waterfalls were the friendliest I have ever paddled on. Sitting in those big circular eddies with friends all around kept me smiling from ear to ear. It was so awesome to be another colorful speck in the pictures with them all. It was another amazing adventure and I’m so excited for all the more to come.

Taylor Cote is a NOC Teen Camper and winner of the New River Academy Photo Scholarship. To read Taylor’s blogs click here. Special thanks to Melina Coogan for the great photos!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ida's Remnants Fill Dewatered Nantahala Along with Rest of WNC's Whitewater Runs

The Nantahala River (picture above), typically flowing at scenic but scanty levels this fall due to Duke Energy's Nantahala Plant maintance, is at robust high water levels this morning, along with every other runnable stratch of river in WNC after the remnants of Hurricane Ida passed over the region yesterday. Though we predicted last week would be the year's best whitewater week, thanks to the abundant rain, the Green River Narrows Race and the releases on the Tallulah and the Cheoah, it's hard to imagine a more ideal rain scenario. The rains came down evenly and steadily, slowly saturating the already wet watersheds, so we expect many of these flows to hold for the weekend, though the micro creeks will flush out sooner.

Micro creeks really are the story here. Below is a photo of Wesser Creek, a small roadside creek in the Nantahala Gorge that usually has about six inches of water in it. Today it looks really fun! Check out the waterfall dumping into the Nantahala below Worser Wesser. (Be careful on these micro creeks. You can see trees in the middle of the waterfall; running these creeks presents numerous unusual and dangerous challenges and hazards.)
I won't try to enumerate all the rivers that are going off today since American Whitewater already has that info here. Some highlights? Big Laurel, near Hot Springs looks awesome right now, and you'll get to finish the run on the swollen French Broad. I'm a big fan of the creek to river transition on this run. The easier sections of the Watauga look good right now as well as the typical Nantahala run, though it's at a high 2380 cfs . Many of the big runs, like Big Creek need to come back down, so if you can't make it today, that's cool. The Nolichucky at 5900 cfs would be a good way to spend the day waiting.

Check out some of the runs our Nantahala staff like when it's wet: Snowbird Creek, Santeetlah Creek and Slickrock Creek up near Joyce Kilmer if you're looking for something new. (These are way "out there" and there's not much info available. You'll need to be excellent to do the harder sections of these runs and very aware of your capeabilities to do the easier sections. AW and Boatertalk are the best places to get the skinny on these runs.)

Running flooded rivers and newly energized micro creeks not your thing? The other good news is the abundance of waterfalls that appear (sometimes out of nowhere) in WNC after a good rain. For instance, below is the waterfall across the street from NOC's Outfitter's Store that you really can't see on a normal day. So, if your significant other would rather not tangle with high water, s/he will have some nice views to check out while running shuttle for you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Andrew Holcombe Wins Green Race in Record Time: Post Race Interview

NOC Head Instructor and Team Dagger professional paddler Andrew Holcombe bested his own record of 4:27 by nine seconds to win the 2009 Green River Narrows Race, the most compeititve and popular creek boating race in the world. The course, situated on the Green's steepest mile (which drops over 342 feet) takes paddlers over numerous Class V rapids, including the dramatic 18' Gorilla. (See photo of Leland Davis from AW's Green River page.)

We caught up with Andrew around noon today to ask some questions about his awesome run on Saturday:

NOC: So, How did you feel about beating your own record? Did your 2009 run feel that much better than the '07 run?

AH: At the time I wasn't sure if it was that much faster, but I knew it was better. I had better lines [than in '07]. In '07 there were obvious spots where I could have had a cleaner line. Also, I feel like I was in much better shape this year. I'm a lot stronger this year.

NOC: Did the water level make a difference?

AH: It was at a really good 100, and higher water makes you go faster, but in some places higher water does make things harder.

NOC: What about your boat? You were in a prototype of the Greenboat in 2007, right?

AH: Yeah, and the prototype was faster in a straight line, but the production Greenboat is much easier to paddle. Plus, you know, we've been in the Greenboat for three years now. That certainly helps.

NOC: Shaving 9 seconds off the record is really impressive. That's almost 3.5% of your record run. Can you do that again?

AH: I still think you can go faster, but there was only one place my line could have been cleaner (I kind of plugged at Powerslide). Overall though, my lines were very good, and of course there were a couple of places where I wish I didn't hit a couple of rocks, but to beat my time I'm just going to have to paddle harder. The lines aren't going to get much cleaner.

Introducing Taylor Cote

Hello everyone! Wayner your friendly NOC Ambassador here. I wanted to introduce you to one of the faces from our kids and teens programs Taylor Cote. She is the recipient of the NOC Photo scholarship at the New River Academy. This fall she will be sending her updates from beautiful Chile. We invite you to follow along with her adventures as she travels the world studying and paddling. Enjoy...

"Kayaking. Such a simple word, yet it is everything that I am now.

Paddling has helped me grow up from my younger years into the teen that I am now. Boating has brought me through so much. Kayaking is that good output instead of getting into the mess and sickness the world has. It gives me the confidence to walk with my head high everyday even in the gloom. I love to be me and be my own little individual in this huge world.” ‘I Am Significant!,' screamed the dust speck” –Calvin and Hobbes.

Kayaking has given me many friends. I definitely have made friendships that will last a lifetime. Then there is the trust between those friends especially, when you need them in the scariest of rapids- but also during our regular everyday lives. The amazing rescues we’ve done to get each other out of trouble on the river have helped us bond together. I’ve even seen my kayaking buddies weddings seeing them getting married. I probably wouldn’t have met all these amazing people if it hadn’t been for kayaking.

Kayaking gives me my individuality because really, how many girls kick ass like me on the water? Have the guts to drop into the holes on the Ottawa? How many girls have hucked themselves off Short Creek Falls? The aroma of the outdoors is spread all throughout me, with the mountaineering, mountain biking, and a many other plethora of sports I’ve worked at. I still can recall the crunching of the snow under my mountaineering boots and crampons, leaning on that cold pick axe for support. Even though I do all those things, I still have those nights where I wear the prettiest of dresses; my dad taking me to a lovely musical at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

Kayaking has brought me to many places no one will ever see, even in their wildest dreams. So far, it has brought me many places around the U.S., Canada, the Dominican Republic, and now even Chile. It lets me see the world."

Taylor Cote is a NOC Teen Camper and winner of the New River Academy Photo Scholarship. To read Taylor’s blogs click here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Course This Spring: Wilderness Survival Skills

Get ready for Survivor: Nantahala Edition! This April, NOC's Wilderness Medicine instructors are working together to offer a brand-new, one-time weekend workshop on Wilderness Survival Skills. The course features four of the area's top experts on survival psychology, shelter building, food sourcing and first aid, and will take place in the outdoor classroom of the Nantahala National Forest.

While the weekend is sure to be a lot of fun, you'll take away valuable survival skills including navigation techniques, fire building, signaling, preparedness and much more. Time is split between NOC's classroom in Kleinrath Hall and scenarios in the outdoors.

This course is a result of the many requests that you, our fans submitted, so book early! NOC is now taking reservations for almost all 2010 adventures, including Wilderness Survival Skills. Stay tuned to the blog for more announcements regarding new courses in 2010!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nantahala Spills & the Best Whitewater Week All Year

It's no secret that the Southeast has been getting dumped on by heavy rains throughout fall. For paddlers, it's been a stellar season to get out and paddle big water on warm fall days. In addition to all the water in natural-flow rivers, Duke Energy announced last week that it will be spilling water into the Upper Nantahala channel in November.

From Duke Energy's Press Release:
With a prolonged outage at Nantahala Hydro Station and higher than expected rainfall, Duke Energy is expecting to begin releasing water through a gate at the Nantahala Lake Dam on Monday, November 2. On a weekly basis Duke Energy will post an update to our operating plan on the Nantahala Lake and Rivers website. Please note that the website will be updated by noon on Monday projecting operations for the week looking forward.

Thanks to Duke Energy for managing and communicating these spills on the Upper Nanty. If you plan to paddle this section of the Nantahala, be sure to use caution when parking along Wayah Road. A little extra care in these instances can help safeguard future recreational releases and keep everyone safe.

In addition to the Upper Nantahala, the Cheoah River in far western NC is scheduled to release at 1,000 cfs from 9am-5pm Saturday, November 7, and Georgia's Tallulah River is releasing Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am-4pm. The Chattooga River has been running above 2 feet and the Nolichucky River is currently running well above 1,000cfs. For the latest information about river flows, check out AW's River Info Page.

Don't forget "the single most famous, most respected, and most competitive creek race on the planet," the Green River Race is this Saturday, November 7 beginning at noon. NOC instructor Andrew Holcombe still holds the open division record in the Green Race, and instructor Laura Farrell won the women's division in a tie last year. For more information about the Green River Race, visit this page on American Whitewater.

Anyway you slice it, this weekend's paddling prospects are looking awesome. Visit and vote for which river you'll be paddling in this week's poll!