Tuesday, August 3, 2010

NC Bartram Trail Hike

Our friend Cliff Hardin recently wrote a good guide about hiking a 58 mile loop of the NC Bartram Trails and the Appalachian Trail, starting and ending at the NOC. This hike can be done in 5 days, following the guide below. A 3-day version of the hike is also described at the end of the article:

"A Great Hike" by Cliff Hardin

"Hikers seeking a great hike should consider the 58 mile loop hike, utilizing the Appalachian and NC Bartram Trails, starting and ending at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

Since this hike starts and finishes at the same place, the NOC can be used as a "base camp". This allows you to take advantage of the NOC's lodging and great restaurants the night before and the night after the hike.

You can also make arrangements to leave your vehicle in a secure parking lot. Contact NOC reservations at 1-888-905-7238 or visit their website www.noc.com for more information.

Tip: I personally like to stay in the Bartram Bunkhouse and always request one of the 2 bunk rooms, a bargain at $16 per person, per night.

5 Day, 58 mile hike:
Day One: 11.6 miles: After a good night's rest and a great breakfast at the NOC's River's End Restaurant, take the AT South from NOC. Hike to Cold Spring Shelter; spend the first night in the shelter. Water is available here, be sure to treat or filter the water. Keep in mind a lot of the 11.6 miles will be uphill, as you will be climbing to Wayah Bald the first day and part of the second day. Plan on a few rest breaks and carry enough water for the day's hike.

Day Two: 10.9 miles: It is 5.9 miles from Cold Spring Shelter to Wayah Bald, with the AT and NC Bartram Trails joining just North of the summit (5,385'). Wayah Bald would be a great place for lunch, while you enjoy some awesome views, from the tower, that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937. After you enjoy lunch and hopefully take some great pictures, take the Appalachian/Bartram Trail for 1.8 miles to Wine Springs. The BT and AT separate here. You may want to get water here before hiking on to Jarrett Bald, where you will camp for the night.

Day Three:
12.3 miles: The hike starts out with downhill for 2.5 miles to Nantahala Lake (SR 1310). After about a mile of road walking you will come to a store, on the left, where you can get a cold drink and obtain water for the rest of the day's hike. It's 9.7 miles to Piercy Creek, where you will find some nice camp sites, with water available from the creek.

Day Four:
10.8 miles: After 7.3 miles, with a lot of downhill, you will reach Nantahala River Launch (US Hwy 19/74). Be sure to go by the Bartram Historical Marker, for pictures, before hiking the 3.5 miles to the 2nd crossing of Ledbetter Creek, your camp site for the night.

Day Five:
11.5 miles: It's 3.7 miles to Cheoah Bald (5,062'), the northern terminus of the NC Bartram Trail. From here take the AT 7.8 miles to finish the hike at NOC. Be sure to allow time for pictures at Bartram Falls and at the summit of Cheoah Bald.

After a good meal, a hot shower and good nights rest, you will be ready for the trip home, carrying with you memories of a great hike and hopefully some great pictures.

It's possible to make this a 3 day, 40 mile hike by getting a shuttle from NOC to Wayah Bald, thus eliminating the climb from NOC to Wayah Bald on the AT.

Tip: I have been successful in obtaining an early morning shuttle for my Bartram thru-hikes from NOC employees prior to their going to work. You can still leave your vehicle in a secure parking lot and will be hiking back to the NOC.

3 day, 40 mile hike:
Day One: 13.5 miles: Wayah Bald to Nantahala Lake 7.5 miles, then 6 miles to Appletree Campgrounds. There are nice camp sites, just north of Appletree.
Day Two: 15 miles from Appletree Campgrounds to 2nd crossing of Ledbetter Creek.
Day Three: 11.5 miles: Same as day 5 of the 58 miles hike.

I highly recommend that the Bartram Trail Maps be obtained and used in planning any hike on the Bartram. The maps are available on the NC Bartram Trail Society website online store. http://ncbartramtrail.org (or available at Ranger Stations). The cost is only $15.00 for the entire set of seven maps, and you can use maps 1-4 to plan your hikes of the rest of the NC Bartram Trail. You may also want to consider becoming a member of the NC Bartram Trail Society.

As you hike the NC Bartram Trail, keep in mind that you will be taking a trip back in early US history. The trail follows, as near as possible, the travels of William Bartram through the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina in the mid 1770's.

Enjoy your hike,
-Cliff Hardin, NCBTS Board Member"

Thanks for the article Cliff! Here is a slideshow of images that Cliff put together of his personal trip down the trail:

-John Puckett

Monday, July 12, 2010

Trip Down the French Broad

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Hey guys, this past weekend I took a trip over to NOC's French Broad Outpost so I could take some photos, check out the river, and report back about my overall experience. I'd just like to start off by saying, "Wow, that was a really fun adventure!"You can check out the video I made for a quick summary, or for more in-depth experience report, keep reading!


I left Thursday morning with the intent of rafting the French Broad River that afternoon, seeing a concert in Asheville at Club 828 on Friday night, and then rafting the Nolichucky River on Saturday. I drove through Asheville, stopped at the KFC for lunch to try the new "double down" sandwich (which is basically two pieces of fried chicken with cheese, bacon, and sauce in between - really healthy! ;-) ), and continued on my way to the outpost.

Once I arrived, I checked in, signed my release form, talked with the guides for a while (who were really cool people), and started taking pictures in the time I had left before the pre-trip information and gearing-up session.
Sign Outside the Outpost

Beautiful Flowers Lining the Staircase

Inside the NOC Store

Another View of the Sign and Balcony

Around 2:30, once everyone had showed up for the excursion, we all left "the fort" - the meeting area where release forms are signed and car keys are left - and went over to the gear shed where Lilly, our trip guide, gave us a humorous, informative breakdown on raft safety before we got suited up in PFDs and helmets.
Meeting Area for Safety Breakdown

PFD Storage Room

Once everyone was suited up to go, we hopped on the bus for the French Broad and listened to Lilly crack more of her jokes about "moonshine plants" (corn), the origins of Nascar, and big city life in Hot Springs, NC (pop: 645).

Lilly Crackin' Jokes

About 10 minutes later, we pulled up to the put in at the river, grabbed our paddles and boats from off the bus, and Lilly gave the "duckie" users a short tutorial about leg position, posture, paddling strokes, re-entry techniques, and other basics tips.

The trip down the river started off a little slow, with everyone getting accustomed to their new floating vehicles, but quickly picked up speed after we went down the first few rapids. Unlike the Nantahala, the French BROAD is very wide for the vast majority of it's length, so there is plenty of room for large groups (like ours) to maneuver freely down the river.
Here are some trip highlights:

After an awesome trip, we beached our boats at the take-out, loaded up the bus, and headed back to the outpost to shower and check out the photos. We got back to the outpost around 6:30, and I was on the road again by 7.

I drove down to Greenville, SC to visit some friends that I went to Furman University with last year, and stayed the night there. The next day I drove up to Asheville for an Excision dubstep concert at Club 828 where I actually ran into some old friends and danced from 10-3!

Unfortunately, due to low water levels, my Nolichucky trip on Saturday was cancelled, but I'm not complaining, because I had an awesome time this weekend regardless. If you get a chance to go down the French Broad this summer, I'd highly recommend it!

Thanks for reading guys,

Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning to Kayak (Part 2/2)

(continued from part 1/2)

Sunday was quite a bit more exciting than Saturday. Since we had our basic skills down, Mark, Chris, Allan, Dietrich, Samantha, and I skipped the lake today and went straight to the Tuckaseegee at a later put-in (where you put your raft into the river) to brush up on our whitewater technique before heading to the Nantahala River. After working our rolls (I'm still not quite able to complete one, but I've got 7 weeks to work on it), ferrying, eddying, and leaning into our turns, we packed up our stuff and drove to the Nantahala to have lunch then go down the river.
Lunch by the Nantahala

After we ate, we all put on our wetsuit pants and shirts, our spray jacket, and our spray skirts, then climbed into our kayaks to start our adventure down the Nanty. The reason the water on the Nantahala is so cold (52 degrees F) compared to the other rivers is because the source of the water is the bottom of Nantahala lake, which is 250 feet below the surface, and as such, isn't warmed by the heat of the sun. I was definitely glad to be so decked out in gear once I hit a rapid sideways and flipped over in this water. Quite shocking to say the least, haha.
As we continued down the river, I started to really feel the importance of keeping loose hips and really just going with the flow. If you try to fight the current, you will generally lose. If you lean with the current, keep your boat at the right angle, and face the rapids with confidence, success will come.
When we got to "Pizza by the River", we played around in a small rapid and went "surfing". When water cascades over a rock in a certain way, the downstream current can actually change direction and start flowing upstream right below the rock. When this happens, it is possible to approach the falls facing upstream and "surf" the wave in the current, staying in the same place in the river. It was really fun!

Surfing the wave outside Pizza by the River

After a few more sections of rapids, we approached Nantahala Falls, a class III rapid right upstream from the main NOC campus. We took our kayaks out just upstream from the falls, mapped out our planned route for running the falls, and walked back to our boats. As I streched my elastic spray skirt around the edge of my boat, what I was about to do really sunk in for the first time, and excitement spread throughout my body. The six of us took the right fork in the river, and coasted into an eddy just above the falls. At this point, my heart was racing, adrenaline flowing through my veins as I mapped out my strategy for taking the falls. Samantha went first, gave the signal at the bottom that she was ready for us to begin our descent. Dietrich and Allan went first, and were both successful in their attempt. As soon as a window opened up between rafts, I dug my paddle into the water, entered the current, and started rowing for my targeted route. I got going faster and faster, hit the center route, and cruised successfully through the falls. My second day in a kayak and I nailed a class III rapid on my first try! What a fun day!
We ran the falls once more, everyone made it through this time (the first time Chris didn't quite make it over without falling), and then we surfed the main wave under the bridge by Slow Joe's on the Nanty until 5 o'clock when we packed up our gear and left. All in all, this kayaking clinic was a great experience. I'm so excited that I get to continue rafting for the rest of the summer, it's such a fun, healthy, active experience each and every time.

I'm about to go on a rafting trip with my manager Charles and some other people. How cool is it that for my afternoon breaks from work, I get to go raft down a river? I'm so happy that I've got the job that I do! Life is good.

Peace and Love,

Learning to Kayak (Part 1/2)

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Hey guys! This weekend I took a 2-day kayaking clinic through the NOC's paddling school with a group of 4 other guys and our instructor Samantha. Mark (15) and his dad Dietrich are from Ontario originally, but now live in Raleigh, North Carolina. Chris (19) and his dad Allan are from Roswell, Georgia - a suburb just outside of Atlanta. Samantha is from Chile, and has been whitewater rafting ever since she met her husband Jon several years ago at the "5 teacup falls". All in all, I had an amazing weekend learning how to kayak.

On Saturday morning, we started out by getting our "5 essentials":
1) PFD (personal flotation device)
2) Kayak
3) Helmet
4) Spray skirt (what you wear around your waist to keep water from rushing into the kayak)
5) Booties (I actually just wore my Vibram Five Fingers, which worked great in the water)

After we got all geared up, we loaded the van and headed to the lake. In our group, only Allan and Chris had kayaked before (only on flatwater though), so we started with the very basics - the wet exit. Though simple, this is a pretty essential maneuver, considering that without it, flipping over in your kayak will leave you submerged upside-down with nowhere to go.
Luckily, everyone picked up on this pretty quickly, and we progressed to the basic paddling strokes - the vertical stroke, which propels you straight forward, and the horizontal stroke, which allows you to turn. With each stroke, you also must distribute your weight so that your kayak is leaning in the direction you want to go. Pretty intuitive material, but the clear instruction was very helpful, because a solid foundation is essential to long term success in anything, kayaking included. Once we practiced rescuing our flipped comrades, hip snaps, and the basics of rolling upright from an upside-down position (Chris, Allan, & Mark were able to do the roll, I'm still working on it), we went to the Tuckaseegee river to practice our newly acquired expert skills.

Once we ate our sandwiches, we went out on the river and started working on ferrying across currents, turning into eddys (the calm parts of the river behind obstacles like rocks where you can just float without paddling), and other whitewater techniques. This river doesn't get above Class II rapids (out of 5), so it was a good entry-level experience for me. I "swam" twice on Tuckaseegee (when you have to wet exit, and swim out of your kayak), but really gained a pretty good foundation from 9-5 on Saturday.

Samantha and Allan working on Rolling

I went out on Tuckaseegee on Sunday morning, then we went down the Nantahala in the afternoon. I'll post details about it in "Learning to Kayak (part 2/2)". Be sure to check out part 2 for the pictures of me going down Nantahala Falls!

Peace & Love,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My First Day at NOC

Hey guys! My name is John Puckett, and I’ll be working as a Marketing Intern for the rest of the summer here at NOC. Let me just start off by saying, wow, this place is beautiful. I just got in yesterday afternoon, and I’m already having a blast.

Yesterday, after I filled out the exciting W9 tax forms, I went over to “Stone House” – the building where I’m working – and met some of my coworkers. The three people I’m working with directly in the marketing department are Barbara, Hannah, and Charles, all of whom seem like really interesting, fun, life-loving people. I definitely won’t get bored at work.

From what Charles described to me, a large portion of my job will involve “gathering content” for NOC (aka taking pictures and video of rafters on 6 of the 7 rivers). In order to take these photos I will obviously need to be at each of the rivers, so as an unfortunate side effect of the job, I’ll need to go rafting all the time… Bummer ;-)

After I left the Stone House yesterday, I wanted to experience the river myself, so I drove upstream a little, parked on the side of the road, and hopped across some rocks so I could sit with my feet in the Nantahala. Wow, that water is cold! It felt so nice sitting there with my shoes off, cool mountain air sweeping off the river and hitting my face. I had my camera with me so I started taking some pictures of the small waterfalls, the contrast between shadow and light on the trees lining the river, and other things in nature when a group of NOC rafters floated by. I was amazed. This is an activity that I will be doing anyway in my free time (nature photography). How sweet is that?!

Chillin' with my feet in the Nantahala

Mossy Waterfall

All in all, this internship seems like it will be an amazing opportunity for me to do what I love, learn about the marketing side of business, explore the field of river sports, and have awesome adventures all along the way. Nice to meet y’all!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

NOC Staff Dispatch: Paddling for a Cause in the Eddy Flower Vertical Challenge

from NOC Nolichucky River Guide Jeff Clewell

On May 15, the 2010 Eddy Flower Vertical Challenge began. For 32 days, 50 teams from the East and the West will compete to descend as many vertical feet as possible on whitewater rivers, all while raising money for young cancer patients. This is the fourth year in a row that Eddy Flower has teamed up with First Descents—an organization that provides kayak instruction and adventure for young adults who have recently been diagnosed with cancer—to put on the competition.

Myself and fellow NOC staffer Drew Austell are competing in the open division and hope to lead in both "vertical feet" and "donations" through the end of the competition. Our team (The Off the Cowch Team) jumped to an early lead in both categories and has managed to maintain that lead half-way through the competition. With the final days of the competition upon us, we will have to keep a watchful eye on the teams behind us.

Curt Joyce, Drew Austell, and Jeff Clewell, of The Off the Cowch Team, head downstream alongside fellow competitor Susan Hollingsworth, of the Femme 45 team. Photo by Melissa Wilder

Last year's competition came down to the final days, with three teams all vying for the top spot. This year promises to be just as competitive. You can check out the progress of The Off the Cowch Team at the Standings page.

The Miracle Mile stretch on Oregon's Willamette River has numerous lines and countless boofs like the one seen here. Photo by: Curt Joyce

Jeff winds up on a boof stroke to clear one of the many hydraulics in the Miracle Mile. Photo by: Curt Joyce

For more on First Descents, their history, mission, and testimonials click here. If you feel inspired, feel free to make a secure, tax deductible donation to First Descents by clicking here (you can make a donation on Jeff or Drew's behalf or donate independently).

Drew makes "the move" in Lower Zig Zag rapid on the Green Truss. Photo by: Curt Joyce

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

MedicForce Hosts Silent Auction in Greensboro, NC

Come out this Saturday and support MedicForce as they raise funds to continue their Belize outreach project! MedicForce is a non-profit organization founded by and comprised of NOC staff members and volunteers, with the aim of bringing medical care and training to remote villages throughout the world.

The group will host an art auction in Greensboro, NC this Saturday May 22 at the Historic Biltmore in Greensboro from 7–9pm.

This past winter, five MedicForce volunteers rebuilt a derelict healthcare clinic in Laguna Village, Belize and stocked it with basic medical supplies. During that time they coordinated with the village to elect a new community health worker. The community health workers in Belize are responsible for the health education and well being of communities of up to 300 people. They also conducted a medical evaluation of two other villages in even greater remoteness and inaccessibility.

every little bit from medicinebleu on Vimeo.

MedicForce volunteers plan to return to Belize in July of 2010 to focus on advanced medical training for community health workers, including Laguna Village. Plans include training midwifery skills, and installing solar power in the newly renovated clinic at Laguna Village.

MedicForce's founder Jono Bryant is the director of Wilderness Medicine programs at NOC. He will travel to Belize this summer with a team of nurses and other volunteers to accomplish these tasks. To complete this work, funds are needed and every little bit helps! This benefit is being organized by NOC staff and guests who traveled to Belize as part of NOC's Adventure Travel trips.

The event starts at 7pm and will include a silent auction for rafting trips and kayak instruction from NOC, along with fine art photographs of Belize. Admission is $20 and includes complimentary wine from Trefethen Winery, along with hors d' oeuvres.

If you can not attend the benefit and would like to donate please go to http://www.firstgiving.com/medicforcebelize

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Freestyle Shootout = Free Fun

It's hump day, which means it's the perfect time to plan this weekend's trip to the Nantahala Gorge, recently-named home of the 2013 WORLD Freestyle Championships and site of this weekend's NOC Freestyle Shootout, Friday through Sunday.
Paddlers have been arriving throughout the week, practicing on the wave for what looks to be the most intense competition on the Nantahala in years. With $10,000 up for grabs, live music and big names like four-time world freestyle champion Eric Jackson competing, it's no wonder everyone wants to be part of the action.

Festivities begin for paddlers and spectators on Friday night, when NOC hosts an Open Surf Under the Lights. That's right. Practice after dark courtesy of Duke Power (supplying the water flows) and NOC (providing the lights). For non-paddlers, take in the scene at The Pourover, where you'll be able to dance if you want to, have a beer and still check out the wave action from the open-air deck.

A C1 Paddler Practices Wednesday Afternoon

Saturday, the competition kicks off. If you are planning to paddle, arrive early to register. Please note, it is likely that we will hit our 100 competitor limit this year! Don't get left out by arriving late. Classes are K1 Pro Men, K1 Pro Women, K1 Expert Men, K1 Expert Women, K1 Cadets, K1 Open Novice and C1 Open Canoe. Registration is $40/entry and is open from 4–9pm Friday and 9–10am Saturday. The top five in each class will advance to Sunday's finals.

Non paddlers can enjoy the festival atmosphere, as the NOC Outfitter's Store hosts Demo Days, with free boat demos, $200 OFF the purchase of in-stock new boats and a sidewalk sale. There will also be a Dagger Dash Attainment Race at 2:30pm on Sunday, and the winner will walk home with a Green Boat. The entire weekend is free to the public. Raft trips on the Nantahala are open, as are NOC's lodging and dining facilities. With a clear forecast in store, it might be the best weekend this year!

And, in case you haven't heard the big news direct from the International Canoe Federation in Budapest, the Nantahala Gorge was announced Saturday as the host of the 2013 World Freestyle Championships! Tentatively scheduled for mid-September 2013, the event is expected to draw more than 500 paddlers from 30–40 countries to the Nantahala area. More news of Worlds to come soon.

We hope to see you on the river this weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

US Whitewater Open Preview

This weekend, paddlers from around the world will sprint through the slalom gates on the Nantahala River, when NOC and Nantahala Racing Club (NRC) hosts the 2010 Bank of America US Whitewater Open. The weekend features two days of high-intensity slalom racing at a spectator friendly course at Nantahala Falls.

Giles Morris wrote this article in today's Smoky Mountain News, it's a great primer for the event. (Click to read more.)

"No matter how you look at it, the U.S. Open is one of the classic showcases in the sport of whitewater racing, and the event will bring some of the world’s best racers in both slalom and wildwater classifications to Western North Carolina to show off their skills."

If you've never watched a slalom race, here's what you can look forward to. In slalom competition competitors get two runs of the course, which is typically paddled in less than two minutes. The paddlers negotiate 20 gates-14 downstream gates and six upstream gates-incurring two-second penalties for any touch of a gate, and an insurmountable 50-second penalty for displacing a gate by more than 45 degrees, proceeding in the wrong order or passing through upside-down. The competitors' two times are added together, with the fastest combined time winning the race.

As always, NOC will offer free parking for the event, and River's End Restaurant will be open for racers and spectators can fuel up. The Outfitter's Store, cabin lodging and even Nantahala River rafting will all be open this weekend.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another WFR Concludes at SOLO Southeast, with High Praise from Participants

SOLO Southeast at NOC has just wrapped up another Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course, with participants from an array of professional backgrounds receiving WFR certification. Here, one student shares his experience:

"I really enjoyed the WFR Class and believe that it is the most practical emergency first aid class I have ever taken. I wanted to give you a short email to say why I attended the class. I looked for an advanced medical class that would address the issue of working in remote locations as a part of my police department's Dive Team mission. Several classes were available but didn’t seem to fit the category of “Beyond the Golden Hour” issue. I researched wilderness medical classes offered by a number of companies but I kept coming back to SOLO. I decided to look further into SOLO and see what categories would best suit a Public Safety Dive Team. I decided to enroll into the Wilderness First Responder Course. I have no regrets about choosing SOLO nor have I regretted the WFR Course. The hands-on portions of the class really put the students into the situation as well as the class portions. I was surprised and pleased at the number of scenarios the WFR Course has for the students. The class, without a doubt, prepares the student for emergencies in the backcountry. The class and instructor are top notch and I highly recommend anyone working in rural or backcountry locations to seriously consider the WFR Course. I believe this course is well suited for Park Rangers, Conservation Officers, Game Wardens, SWAT, Public Safety Dive Teams and Search & Rescue Teams."
—Detective Dana Rowsey
Crime Scene Unit
Police Dive Team
Charleston, WV

Here's a shot of Dana at NOC last week.

SOLO Southeast instructors strive to provide the highest level of training, whether for the intensive WFR course or the two-day Wildernes First Aid. Whenever possible, special guests are invited and hands-on scenarios are employed. Thanks to Dana for sharing his feedback on his SOLO Southeast experience.

Another SOLO Southeast Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course begins Saturday, March 27. More details can be found at solosoutheast.com.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Taylor's Travels in Chile

NOC Kids and Teens star Taylor Cote shares some of her insights about paddling and traveling in Chile.

This quarter we’re back in Chile and the flight back over all of us were bouncing in our seats, excited about all the new stuff to come this quarter. It is so fun seeing some of the same sights and how they differ in the changing of the seasons. The difference between this quarter and last is that we’re heading south. We’re going to be working our way down to the Futalefu River, one of the most famous rivers in Chile. While we’re traveling down there we’re going to be stopping in at the Rio Negro and Rio Blanco before we make it down to the Futa.

So far we’ve been back in Pucon chilling at David Hughes’s house here. It’s a pretty sweet spot; we have a river right in our front yard. There’s also a play hole that will come in depending on the level. While we’ve been here we have been paddling some new rivers too. My favorite new run is the Rio Palguin. It’s an amazing boof/waterfall run that just blows my mind every time we go there. The put-in is walking over a mossy land bridge and seal launching into the rocky gorge. It can be a little nerve-racking dropping into the gorge because you know you are in for in it. After the first adrenaline rush you realize everything is good to go.

While here we’ve also traveled to the town of Choshuenco which has the Rio Fuy right in its backyard. It was such a small town and had an amazing feel about it. The ladies we stayed with were very welcoming and happy to have us staying there. The town had few streets so the morning workouts when we ran were absolutely hilarious. You would pass everyone at least once or twice before finishing. The river we had there offered many different types of paddling with varying classes. The Upper Fuy consisted of more waterfalls and boofs. The Middle and Lower Fuy however had amazing playboating and wave filled rapids good for working on downriver moves, such as kickflips and wave wheels. Billy Harris joined us during our stay there and he was a great wealth of knowledge, everyday he would make sure we were boofing up a storm.

Today is going to be fun filled, we’re planning on having a boater cross on part of the Trancura River which will be interesting. Afterwards though we have to pack up everything because its our last day in Pucon. I know everyone is nervous and excited to really get started on our trip south.

Happy Paddling!


Taylor Cote is the recipient of the 2009/2010 NOC Photography Scholarship. Click Here to see Taylor’s New River Academy blog and more of her fabulous stories.

The photos of Taylor kayaking were taken by David Gorskiare on the Rio Palguin. The photo of the volcano and the town of Pucon, Chile was taken by Taylor.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NOC's Great Outpost Buzz

With a grand opening set for April 2, NOC's Great Outpost—an 18,000-square-foot LEED-certified retail and adventure hub—has been triggering buzz from travel sites across the internet.

Last week, Gatlinburg was listed as one of SmarterTravel.com 's Top Five Bargain Destinations for spring, with NOC's Great Outpost mentioned as a highlight of visiting town. From the outdoor gear, clinics and classes to the indoor climbing wall and adventure concierge service, NOC's Great Outpost will be a brand-new family destination for visitors to Gatlinburg and the Smokies. Click below to read the full article.

This story also appeared on usatoday.com and aarpbulletin.com among other news websites.

Expect to see more information about NOC's Great Outpost Grand Opening celebration, scheduled for Friday, April 2. While you're in Gatlinburg for the event, make time for some of these new diversions and events, including the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage April 21–25.

In the meantime, you can click the photo above to view a slide show of the construction process at NOC's Great Outpost. We have been converting the old Open Hearth Restaurant into a LEED-Certified adventure destination like only NOC can, and we hope you'll be as excited as we are!

Friday, January 8, 2010

WEMT: Week Two Update

SOLO Southeast students awoke to a fresh layer of powdery snow at Nantahala Outdoor Center, and class began with a visit from orthopedic surgeon Dr. Pat Kessler from Angel Medical Center. Dr. Kessler came to speak about muscular and skeletal systems, and advice for EMS providers, from a post-emergency point of view. Do you know the difference between the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton? Our Wilderness EMT students do!

Now two weeks into the course, students are gaining confidence and skills. Paul Meyer from Ohio remarked, "I spend the evenings studying. It's an intense course." Meyer is a wilderness firefighter, splitting his time between Wayne National Forest in Southeastern Ohio and northern California. He's taking the WEMT course to help provide proper, immediate care in his fire unit, which often finds itself far from hospitals or convenient transport.

A second guest speaker, Jocelyn Beasley spoke to students on behalf of the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, GA. This is the largest burn center in the US, with local clinics spread across the Southeast. Her talk centered around current trends in burn care, as relevant to the EMS providers who are among the first to encounter burn victims. These special guest speakers make SOLO Southeast's wilderness medicine courses unique, providing interdisciplinary instruction from experts working in the field.

The WEMT students have diverse backgrounds, which is also contributing to the rich learning environment. Brooks Wolfe is a kayaking and survival instructor, who has worked at one of the top survival schools in the nation. JR is an outdoor expert who drove all the way to NOC from Alaska to participate in the class. Trevor from South Africa shared this photo of himself in EMS action outside Johannesburg. This photo appeared in a magazine article about the South African police forces back in 2006. That's Trevor on the right, in those cool blue pants.

If you're interested in attending a SOLO Wilderness Medicine course at NOC, click here. A nine-day Wilderness First Responder course is set to begin February 20, and it's not too late to reserve your spot.