Monday, October 8, 2012

North American Championship Recap

Last weekend, NOC hosted the 2012 ACA Open Canoe Slalom Nationals & North American National Championships on the Nantahala River. Open canoe paddlers from all over the country, as well as Canada flocked to the Nantahala Gorge for three days of racing on the fun and challenging Nantahala Falls Course. They competed in a variety of disciplines, encompassing various lengths of crafts, composite and plastic boats, and tandem and single classes. Many of these competitors see each other regularly on paddle trips in their hometowns. Others are old friends who see each other once yearly at only this event.

The mood was a unique mixture of serious competition--with whitewater athletes walking the course, scouting lines, and discussing runs, penalties, and strategies--and family reunion, as this tight-knit group of friends and river-family caught up on old news and shared new memories after yet another year.

Race organizer MJ Simpson found time to compete in tandem events with both of her young sons. Simpson volunteered to organize the 2012 event in part, she said, because she met her husband, David Simpson, at an Open Canoe Nationals in Carltin, MN, so she felt she owed the event a good turn. “We’re even now, OC Nationals,” Simpson joked at the awards ceremony on Saturday evening at NOC’s Pourover Pub, to the laughter and applause of her fellow-canoeists.

Open Canoe slalom is a test of speed, river-running skills, and agility, and paddlers strove to excel in all three areas over the course of the weekend. In speed, the unrivalled champion was Jordi Domenjo, a coach at Colorado’s Alexander Dawson school, and a top kayak slalom athlete from La Seu D’Urgell, Spain. Domenjo posted a top time of 129.14, seconds ahead of the second place finish by Eli Helbert of Asheville, North Carolina, who came in at 155.05 in the OC1 Open X class.

There were only a handful of clean runs posted over the course of the weekend, a rare distinction since Open Canoes are long and it takes significant skill to navigate them through the slalom course at all, not to mention the difficulty of passing through each gate without tapping (or whacking) one. Among those competitors who managed at least one clean run were Carole Westwood, Adrian Nye, Dooley Tobras, and even the C2 team of Andrew Westwood and Paul Mason, among others. Course designer David Simpson also posted a clean time on Sunday morning, much to his relief. “It would be a sad state of affairs if the course designer couldn’t clean his own course,” he said.

The location of next year’s Open Canoe Nationals has yet to be determined, but one thing is clear, this dedicated group of paddlers will make the long drive, canoe trailers in tow, ready to give it their all, once again, for that so-often-elusive clean run.

View Full Results here:

Day 1 Slalom Final

Day 2 Slalom Final

Day 3 Slalom Final

More Pumpkins Than Ever: NOCtoberfest 2012

NOCtoberfest is here! NOC celebrates fall with a beer garden at Slow Joe's Cafe every weekend in October starting at 4pm. Come enjoy the outdoors during the day and sample beers from Weihenstephaner, Bitburger and Maisel's Wesse by the river when you're finished.

The Main Event
Join us on Saturday, October 27th when we celebrate the close of the 2012 Nantahala River rafting season with a full load of fun activities*. The day's top events include the spectacular Great Pumpkin Pursuit, a fantastic five-mile trial run, free live music and a hilarious costume party and pumpkin decorating contest..

Crazy pumpkin from NOCtoberfest 2011
Why all the buzz about the Great Pumpkin Pursuit?
One of the most entertaining and fun events all year, the Great Pumpkin Pursuit--an all-out dash to collect numbered pumpkins tossed into Nantahala Falls--draws a crowd of hundreds of spectators as well as 50 to 60 paddlers. The paddlers don crazy costumes and deploy innovative pumpkin collection schemes while negotiating a massive traffic jam in the Nantahala's largest rapid.
A scene from the 2011 Great Pumkpin Pursuit
This year, we are dropping, tossing and spilling 400 mini-pumpkins into the Falls, double the haul from last year!  Paddlers are invited to collect the pumpkins any way they please, and spectators are welcome to attempt land-based collecting too. Pretty much anything goes--as long as everyone maintains a courteous attitude toward the other participants and a focus on safety.

Some techniques used to collect from last year. (Note the basket fixed to the front of this kayak.)
After the event we host an award ceremony for various honors, and we draw numbers that correspond with the numbered pumpkins. The more pumpkins participants collect the better their chances of winning a prize in the raffle! This year, some of the prizes include a $500 gift card to NOC, PFDs, helmets, and much more.
NOC Marketing team members Lauren Dietrich and Hope Brainard, getting in the Halloween spirit
Note that the events on the water can get crazy and may not be everyone's idea of a good time. Never fear: boaters are welcome to stalk an eddy downstream of the Falls that's a bit out of the way. Sometimes following the traffic jam at a cautious distance is a good idea too. One of the reasons we toss so many pumpkins is to give everyone a reasonable chance to get something without risking life and limb. Also, note that land-based collecting is allowed, but that walking haphazardly on wet river rocks has risks too.

After the event we'll have a pumpkin decorating contest, live reggae from the Natti Love Joys and the 2012 costume contest.

We hope to see you, your friends and families out at NOC for the upcoming festivities! For a full event schedule, click here.

To finish, check out this "trailer" one of the participants made back at the first GPP in 2010. While the crowd was small for the first event, this video does capture the mood pretty well:

Fall Season: Best Time to Zip

Fall is perhaps the most beautiful time of the year in the Nantahala Gorge.  And with the leaves changing and cool breezes blowing, it is the perfect time to get outside for an adventure. So, if you haven't been on NOC's "ZLAP" before, it's time to try the new Zip Line Adventure Park at NOC!

NOC is offering a Fall "Add-On" special for the Zip Line.  If you make a reservation with NOC for an activity besides the Zip Line Adventure Park, you can add on a ZLAP reservation and save $15 per person!  All you have to do is call 800.232.7238 and mention the Fall Zip Line Adventure Park add-on special while making your reservation over the phone.

What other activities can you do with NOC in the Fall?
Whitewater rafting
    • Go rafting down the Nantahala River; it's a family friendly, class II/III river.  It makes for a perfect afternoon trip after zipping in the morning!  Even if it's brisk outside NOC has splash jackets and pants included with the trip to keep you warm on the water. If you book a rafting trip and the Zip Line Adventure Park, you can save $15 and have a full day of fun!
Mountain Biking
    • NOC also offers mountain bike rentals.  You can hop onto two wheels and hit the trail.  Go speeding down some of the best single track trails in the area.  With Flint Ridge trail on the Nantahala Campus, it is very accessible and convenient   You will also catch some great views once on top of the ridge top.  Tsali National Recreation Area is less than 10 miles from NOC.  We provide a bike rack that fits on most cars to make transporting the bikes really easy. Tsali has over 50 miles of trails to ride, each with varying views, terrain and technical features.

Don't stay inside this Fall, the weather is beautiful and calling your name to play!

Guest Appreciation Festival 2012: Recap

Cascades, Cascades, Cascades
Some paddlers described it as pure chaos, or even a circus, but the Cascades release was definitely one of the biggest highlights during GAF weekend.  Providing entertainment, personal "first D’s" and what seemed like endless whitewater laps for some, the Cascades were on a-whole-'nother level this weekend.

Hunt Jennings (Yellow) and Matt Anger (Blue) during one of their thirty laps down the Cascades
Being the first recreational release for the Upper Nantahala and Cascades, this past weekend felt like Christmas for many. Boaters came from all over the region to paddle this section of river that is usually dependent on rain fall.

Many of you have requested the photos and video from the release so here they are! To find your photo click here and enjoy!

On Saturday night, The Pourover Pub hosted everyone to watch the Carnage Video from the Saturday release. If you happened to miss it, you can witness some of the chaos for yourself here:

NOC would like to thank everyone who helped with the safety of both spectators and paddlers on the Upper and Cascades during the event. With the extra efforts put in by many, the majority of the release went very smoothly.

Mini Music Festival
With 5 bands performing at GAF, NOC campus felt like a mini music festival!  From mid-afternoon to the wee hours of the night, guests were dancing on the banks of the Nantahala River. The bands fueled the crowd for hours resulting in smiles, laughs and very unique dance moves.

After the live music, the GAF attendees took over the stage during the Ride Garden Dance Party. After a day full of paddling it's amazing so many folks had multiple hours of dancing in them!

And of Course, The Gear Sale
With the combined 30 vendors, 15 private vendors and the Outfitter's Store sales, there were TONS of great deals from this weekend.  If you were looking for boats, gear, or accessories, hopefully you found it in the Marketplace.

The Marketplace was buzzing with energy during GAF.  The atmosphere was full of guests interacting and sharing memories, stories and advice.  It was a great chance to learn about folks interested in similar activities and meet some all around good people!

Take a look at some scenes from GAF 2012 here:

These are just a few highlights from GAF 2012, some others include: learning from Steve Longnecker's birds of prey, wilderness fire starting clinics, stories from Ms. Connie Regan-Blake and much more.  Let us know what you liked the most! GAF 2013 is just around the bend.

Band and Brew Line Up: NOCtoberfest 2012

To get in the spirit of NOCtoberfest, The Pourover Pub is featuring German food and drink specials every weekend in October.  Although we are running short on steins and liederhosen, the pub will have the essentials: beer and brats!

Every weekend, The Pourover Pub will serve Bratwurst and Reuben specials.  Don't miss out on the delicious Germanic fare! After you are finished eating, you can wash your meal down with a festive German brew. Try a dark Heffeweisen from Weihenstephaner, Maisel's Weisse, or for those who prefer a lighter, easy-drinking beer, a lager from Bitburger.

Enjoy a beer on the banks of the Nantahala River
Live Music at The Pourover Pub in October:

October 12th: Rick Rushing & The Blues Strangers - Chattanooga, TN - Blues Reggae

October 13th: Ogya - Chattanooga, TN - Reggae

October 19th: Total War - Asheville, NC - Pop Alternative

October 20th: Freight Hoppers - Bryson City, NC - Old-Time String Band

October 26th: Lumbar 5 -Chattanooga, TN - Soul Fusion

October 27th: Being the final weekend of NOCtoberfest, Natti Love Joys will be featured as the last (certainly not least) band of the season.  With an upbeat reggae ska sound, these guys will definitely keep you up on your feet dancing along.  Don't forget about all of the other activities during this final weekend though: the Great Pumpkin Pursuit, Flint Ridge Fall Trail Run, costume contest and pumpkin decorating!