Friday, July 6, 2012

What's SUP at NOC?

Originally from Hawaii, Stand Up Paddle boardingis increasing its popularity in the Southeast, and NOC now offers classes on this new river and lake-based activity. When I [Michelle, a returning NOC staff member] came to NOC this summer, I had no idea how popular it had become.  I immediately wanted to try it and learn what all the hype was about, so I signed up for a paddle board instruction course.
Instructor Andrew Koch testing his balance on Lake Fontana
Because I can be very clumsy, I was expecting the experience to be challenging for me, but very entertaining for the instructor and my classmates. True to my expectations, I did not stay dry for very long, falling as soon as I leaped on my board (without waiting for guidance from the instructor). After this failed attempt,  I decided to let my NOC Paddling School instructor, Andrew Koch, do his job.

NOC's Kids Camp enjoying their SUP session
With much patience Andrew walked me threw all of the necessary skills needed to advance from the lake to a river.  I learned how to safely get on and off the board, use correct stroke technique and learn when the different actions are appropriate. I also gained information about the equipment and gear that is available and what would be best for my interests and progression.
Variety of Shubu SUP Boards at NOC
So, after working for a few hours on the lake, we went to the Little Tennessee for my first river experience.  This river consists of class I and II rapids, which was the perfect amount of whitewater for my first time out there.  It had the perfect balance of current and obstacles.  Andrew taught me how to read the water, what obstacles to avoid and how to get where I needed to go.  I followed closely behind him trying to hit all of the same lines and catch the same currents at the beginning.

When we got into the harder class II rapids, I was pretty nervous.  Andrew reassured me if I didn’t feel comfortable I could just get on my knees to obtain a lower center of balance.  It made things much easier and lifted my confidence after getting "skegged" on some "not even class I" rapids.  (Skegged - when the fin catches a rock, and your board stops).  After a few miles on the Little Tennessee I was hooked on SUPing. The sensation of gliding on water is amazing, and the connection you feel with the river and your surroundings is different than it is in a kayak or a canoe.
Our group going down the Little Tennessee
Looking back on the day, I only fell on the river once, and I took some swims in the lake when first beginning.  But, I learned correct technique along with terms and knowledge about SUPing.  I was instantly hooked and could not wait to get back out on a board after the day was over. If you are looking to learn a new sport that can be enjoyed on a various bodies of water, this could be the one for you! Check out SUP options at NOC to get out there and have some fun.

Sizzling Summer in the Southeast

This is the hottest summer in years, so you know you need to get on the water and have fun.  Luckily, NOC is offering great trips to cool off with! Here are some new/discounted trips available to our eNews subscribers willing to take some early or late-day trip times on our most popular days:

1.) Save $10 off Sunday Section III Chattooga Trips - A full day of family fun. This section of the classic Southern legend has class II and III rapids with one optional class IV grand finale.  Our guides will fill the day with smiles, laughs and memories and maybe show off some fun river and raft games along the way.
Chattooga Section III - Troll Bridge Game
2.) Ocoee Discount Trips - The Ocoee River is offering discount trips as low as $24.99  this July.  The river's continuous class III and IV rapids are the most popular in the country, so don't miss this great bargain. Take note, the Ocoee is more advanced than section III of the Chattooga; everyone must be over the age of 12 to participate.
Some splashing on the Middle Ocoee
3.) Pigeon River Discount Trips - For you readers closer to the Gatlinburg area, the Pigeon River is also offering some discount trips as low as $24.99!  The Upper Pigeon has mostly class III and IV rapids.  If you haven't been rafting in a long time, this is a great crash course.  It gives you a taste of what white water rafting is all about in a 5 mile stretch of river.
Great trip for kids as young as 8 years old!

Trips to Consider

1.) Nolichucky Adventure Ducks - With the water levels being just right, now is the perfect time to take out an adventure duck on the Nolichucky!  If you want more of a challenge than being in a raft, or want to feel what it's like to kayak, try out an inflatable kayak.  Our guides will lead you down the Nolichucky's class III - IV rapids.  You will learn the proper way to maneuver through white water while sitting right on top of it. Enjoy drinks and snacks provided along the way to keep you in top paddling form.
Staying calm, cool, and collected while taking on these rapids

2.) Paddle and Saddle at the French Broad - If you visit the Asheville area and want a multi-activity itinerary, consider the French Broad's new Paddle and Saddle Trip!  Spend half of the day rafting down the French Broad River outside of Asheville.  The French Broad has class II and III rapids (a great beginner-friendly river). Lunch is served riverside during your rafting trip, so you are fueled for the next half of your day: horseback riding.  This trip is one of the best full-day options for gung-ho, adventure loving familes. 

What's in a Name? NOC's New "Adventure Center"

If you're checking in for a rafting trip at the Nantahala River anytime soon you'll notice some changes to the Rafting Center. In fact, you'll notice the facility has been renamed the "Adventure Center" and is now home to all NOC activities including: the brand new Zip Line Adventure Park, Bike Shop, mountain bike rentals, lake tour programs, the lake boat rental fleet, stand-up-paddle board programs and more. We're hoping that visitors will find it more convenient than ever to find information on all the activities that NOC's Nantahala River campus has to offer.
The Adventure Center Deck

Previously only rafting guests and rental river trips checked in at the Rafting Center, but now most activities check in at the Adventure Center. The biggest change for long-time NOC guests will be the new location for NOC's Bike Shop.

Big Changes: Bike Shop, Paddling Instruction, and Zip Lines

For the past 40 years, NOC Bike Shop was an extension to the Outfitter store.  This year it has moved over to river left, where we hope to encourage more guests to mountain bike the area's excellent trails. With Flint Ridge Trail on property and Tsali National Recreation Area just 10 miles away, early morning and late afternoon rafting guests now have the option to enjoy these classics.
New NOC Bike Shop
Another big change is in the Paddling School check in-process.  NOC has one of the best paddling schools in the nation, but there are always more ways to improve.  Moving check-in from the General Store to the Adventure Center, increases the efficiency of checking in, and guests no longer have to brave Hwy 74 for gear set up either.  Now instructors meet guests on the Adventure Center Deck prior to the course, and the day ends on the same deck.  Much more personable and organized!
Lake Tours/Lake Rentals Start at the Adventure Center Too!

The newest addition to NOC is the Zip Line Adventure Park, which adds another popular activity to the Nantahala River experience.  "ZLAP" guests check in at the Adventure Center, sign waivers, receive an official day pass and are guided down to the course. Very quick and easy!
All non-rafting guests check in at this window

So, that's the new drill. The Adventure Center provides a single starting point for all NOC's Nantahala River Outpost activities. If you've only gone rafting at the Nantahala River location, hopefully you'll be glad to see all the other ways to have fun at NOC.  So drop by, check things out and  start having more fun, in more ways at NOC!