Friday, July 24, 2009

New Record Set on Bull Sluice

Chattooga River history was made this Wednesday, as one NOC guide, Chris guided all seven rafts in his trip through Bull Sluice rapid on Section III. As you can see, Chris even had an audience cheering him on from the South Carolina side of the river.

NOC's own Chris is better known by his nickname Gerbic. He undertook this fearsome rapid seven times, all by himself. The crowd of rafters, including his fellow guides cheered him from Georgia Rock as he raced up and down the shore, sprinting towards another raft of spirited crews, desperately trying to beat the Forest Service clock—seven rafts in an allotted 30 minutes. Raft after raft of gung-ho guests reveled with gusto in this epic sprint for glory.

With grit and fierce determination, Gerbic entered Bull Sluice Rapid knowing full well the challenge before him. The mighty Bull did not take kindly to this challenge. At one point, it reached out and with a shrug of it's broad shoulders, sent Gerbic and his raft into the maelstrom. As Burt Reynolds character said in the movie Deliverance, “You don't beat this river”. Undaunted by his setback, Gerbic swam to shore and resumed his all-out assault. Gerbic's cheering guests and fellow guides exalted in his accomplishment.

Ecstatic after his record-setting day, Gerbic topped it off by a victorious leap into the river.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summertime on the Pigeon River

Yesterday was quite possibly the most gorgeous summer day we've had all year. As such, I headed to the Pigeon River, for some Class III-IV whitewater rafting.

The Pigeon River flows through a deep gorge that comprises the eastern border of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I can't imagine a more perfect backdrop to match the mild summer weather and the exciting river run! We had big, puffy clouds all day and big splashy rapids to match.

The Pigeon River is a great day activity for anyone visiting Gatlinburg TN, or Asheville, NC. The river is easy to access via I-40 and the entire trip last under four hours, meaning you can still add other vacation activities. Most of all, it's a FUN river, with wavy whitewater from beginning to end.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Raft Guide Training on the Chattooga River

It's been a busy year on the Southeast's signature Wild & Scenic River, with ample rain and stout water levels since May. In addition to regularly-scheduled raft trips, NOC's Chattooga Outpost just wrapped up another year of raft guide training. For eager guides, this is one of the most intense whitewater training experiences in the nation. Here are some highlight's from the Class of 2009.

Pictured above is one of this year's training groups, or 'pods' as we call them. That's head guides Rob McCormick on the left with Carrie, Joel, Claire and Colin (Rob was quoted in last year's Blue Ridge Outdoors). Each group spends as many as three weeks sharpening their skills on both Section III and IV of the Chattooga River. Notice that there is one raft for every guide on that trailer.

Here, the guides-in-training take off from the 76 bridge for an R-1 adventure. This means each guide will paddle a raft alone, all the way down to the Five Falls section of the Chattooga. Doing so gives the guides a deep knowledge of how to use the river's features and current to their advantage.

This is Colin, steering his raft through Class IV Raven's Chute Rapid at a fairly high water level. If you've rafted the Chattooga River, you'll recognize this rapid from upstream by the massive, carved cliff that looms over the rapid from the Georgia shore. In addition to its raven-like appearance, the cliff's beach makes a decent lunch spot on rainy days like this one!

Claire guides through a meaty-looking Sock-em-Dog Rapid. At Sock-em-Dog, guides tie a 'dog leash' to the back of the raft to hold on to. Doing so keeps the guide from getting launched out of the raft! This 'dog leash' maneuver originated on this rapid.

Now Colin gets his turn to drop over the Chattooga's big Class V. Looks like Claire found the camera! In addition to paddling the rapids, the three-week session also includes covers areas like river knots and rescue techniques.

NOC has run trips on the Chattooga River since 1972. Our 38-year history of providing quality adventures has aided the development of our guide training program. This year, 13 new guides successfully completed training on the Chattooga River. Give 'em a hand next time you're rafting the Chattooga with NOC!

thanks to Chris Lakey for these photos

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nantahala River Fog

Today we had some severe thunderstorms come through the Nantahala Gorge, and for the most part we dodged them. I was out on a "taxi squad" trip (when we have such a big day we pull extra guides from the offices), so I took some photos out on the water.

My trip was perfectly timed; we got off before the storm came through, but we got the cool, almost spooky Nantahala River mist anyway. My attempt to explain this phenomenon is very dependent on the wikipedia entry for condensation, so give me a break if I'm wrong, but I think what makes the mist (or technically fog since it's so thick) is the cold river water cooling the nearby air past its dew point. The Nantahala is pretty much always hovering between 50 and 55 degrees, so it often produces this fog in the summer or after rain.

No matter the science, it's just cool to be out in it. I've only been in the river fog a few times in three season, but I'm not a full time guide either. By the way, if it looks cold, it's not really. I was comfortable without a splash top on, but many of the guests on the trip smartly wore an NOC provided splash jacket because rain was in the forecast.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Summer's Un-official Start on the Chattooga River

So it wasn't the first day of summer, but it was a great way to kick off the Memorial Day weekend. Here's a video shot from a raft trip on Section III of the Wild & Scenic Chattooga River, on the border between North Georgia and Northern South Carolina. We were lucky enough to be joined by great students from the Hammond School, on their senior trip.

The Section III trip option flows through a beautiful section of river, and is available to kids as young as 8 years old. As you can see in this highlight reel, there are lots of opportunities to get out of the raft, splash around and swim on Section III. The Chattooga's remote location and protected wilderness really give you a feeling of being 'out there' (while in the hands of the best guides around). It's no surprise this river has remained a favorite for so many years.

Check back with us later this week for another Chattooga-related story about rigorous guide training on the more-intense parts of this river!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Whitewater Film Fest at NOC Nolichucky

Come enjoy "An Evening of Whitewater Kayaking Films" with our friends at Rapid Transit Video on Tuesday, May 26 at 8:30pm. This event is held right on the shores of the Nolichucky River, at NOC's Rafting Oupost as part of RiverLink's Paddling the Nolichucky multi-day expedition.

Here's an article about the event in today's Asheville Citizen Times:

Entrance to the Film Festival is $7 and goes to benefit RiverLink's work. RiverLink's expedition will spend two weeks paddling the Nolichucky monitoring the water, educating citizens and raising awareness for this great natural resource. If you'd like to get involved, visit them here. We hope you'll join us in supporting a great cause on one of our beloved rivers!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Asheville Citizen-Times Announces "Unofficial Start" of Rafting Season

Technically we've been rafting since March, but I'm willing to concede that for most rafters—not necessarily whitewater aficionados—the rafting season begins on Memorial Day like any other summer activity. The summer doesn't always offer the optimal water levels or the big Class V runs (the Cheoah only has one summer release this year, June 20-21), but obviously it's fun to go rafting without having to wear neoprene or a bunch of Under Armour or capeliene.

This article discusses rafting the Pigeon, Nolichucky, French Broad, Ocoee and Chattooga, but it omits the Nantahala, the second most rafted river in the Southeast—perhaps because Karen’s been there, done that.

I’m quoted here. Notice my use of the word “superexciting.” That’s eloquence money can’t buy.