Monday, March 19, 2012

Five Reasons to Raft this Spring

Every paddler understands the huge difference between paddling a whitewater river in July and in January. And most folks intuitively get how fall color adds to the atmosphere of an October outing. However, there’s not much recognition for the unique benefits of the spring. Here’s a primer on why the spring is possibly the best time to hit the water, and why spring 2012 could be the best spring yet.

1 . It doesn’t even feel like spring. Let’s face it, this is strange weather. We’ve got temperatures in the 70s for the entire 10-day forecast. You could bemoan it as an ominous sign about a hot summer, or you could interpret it as the beginning of drastic climate change—or you could just get out and enjoy the rare March treat!
High spring flow on the Wild and Scenic Chattooga

2. Spring water. Our free flowing rivers—the Chattooga, French Broad and Nolichucky—rely on rainfall for their flows. Unlike our dam-controlled rivers that have steady, reliable levels, these rivers go through drastic changes in character and experience as water levels fluctuate. (Kind of like how the ocean surf gets pushier as a storm approaches.) Just because you rafted one of these rivers when things were “normal” or moderate doesn’t mean you’ve experienced these rivers at higher spring flows. A high-water trip on one of these rivers is one of the best adrenaline rushes you can get out of the Southeastern outdoors. Keep your eyes peeled for rain and try to book on the back end of a soggy day or two. If you miss perfect timing it’s not a big deal; all the rivers have strong spring base flows anyway.

Classic rapids on the Nolichucky

3. Flower power. So flowers aren’t as powerful as a boat-rocking wave, but they can have just as much impact on a trip. Imagine paddling down a beautiful river gorge as dogwoods, redbuds, pear trees and beds of wildflowers line the bank. It’s actually pretty amazing. Add some warm sunshine on your still-a-bit-white-from-winter skin and some camaraderie from your group and raft guides, and you’ve got a perfect spring day.
Blue wildflowers along the French Broad

4. It’s all for you. Sometimes rivers get busy in the summer. That makes sense. Everyone loves cooling off in July and August. But if you go in the spring, you’re going to get wide-open vistas, and you’re likely going to be one of the only groups you see on the river. It’s a bit more intimate, and it’s easier to get the enviable “Too bad for everyone stuck in the office today” feeling when you’ve got the river to yourself. You’ll feel pretty lucky to have it all to yourself.

Big, splashy waves of the Middle Ocoee

5. Save some money. It’s a strange world where we can offer premium trips at lower cost, but due to the demand curve that’s just how the rafting business works. Who wins in this situation? Rafters. So take advantage of this quirk and book a spring rafting trip. You’ll be able to see the available savings here, and you’ll help “green up the mountains” by keeping some of that cash in your own back pocket.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NOC to Host First Youth Paddling Rendezvous this Spring

Last fall NOC's Paddling School Director Jon Clark received hundreds of applications from youth across the Southeast to join the 2012 Youth Paddling Team. Now in its second season, Jon has officially announced the members of the 2012 YPT and he has developed a calendar packed full of fun and engaging events, training sessions, and the first bi-annual Youth Paddling Rendezvous.

The 2011 Youth Paddling Team

New for the 2012 YPT season, NOC will host its first Whitewater Youth Rendezvous, bringing together young paddlers and providing them with the skills and awareness needed to become responsible and safe paddlers. This fun and free event is set for April 28th and 29th.

There will be two rendezvous each season, in the Spring and the Fall. The Spring Rendezvous will help provide youth paddlers the opportunity to freshen up their skills and meet new friends as the paddling season begins. The Fall Rendezvous session gives the team the chance to reunite and share all the great experiences had over the summer.

Hosted by NOC Paddling School instructors, participants will work one-on-one with some of the world's top paddlers. In just one weekend paddlers may: get their first kayak roll with Jon Clark, learn the basics of freestyle from Andrew Koch, perfect their boofs with Andrew Holcombe - and all while meeting lots of other paddlers!

Each day begins with classroom training sessions followed by two instruction sessions. Participants will have the option of choosing from different topics and concentrations to participate in. The weekend rendezvous includes activities for YPT parents too. Saturday evening is highlighted with the keynote speaker and Sunday everyone will participate in the closing ceremony.

Rendezvous team members, parents and family members are all encouraged to participate. Register early for the best availability in accommodations. NOC's Nantahala River location offers cabin, bunkhouse and inn-style lodging as well as a variety of dining options serving breakfast, lunch and dinner at River's End Restaurant and some quick bites and sandwiches from Slow Joe's Cafe. Don't forget, all YPT members receive a discount so don't forget to ask when making your reservation.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a member of the Youth Paddling Team, check out the YPT webpages. Although the application process has closed for the 2012 Elite YPT, Jon is continuing to accept applications for the 2012 Junior Team. Apply here.

Click to view the 2012 YPT Junior Team Calendar and YPT Elite Team Calendar.

For more information on the YPT Spring Rendezvous and to RSVP please contact Jon Clark at