Saturday, December 8, 2018

Santa Cruz Hightower LT and more Wilson Creek runs ;-))>

Squeezed in a ride before the snow hits. Taking my last vacation day of the year and riding Sinkhole and Hedley's was a great way to celebrate my 20 year work anniversary!
The last several weeks have been incredibly fun:

Road side attraction on Upper Creek. Should be renamed to Scary Big Sieve Rapid now

One of my Soul-O runs in which I started up at Craig Creek Rd.

Early Morning Soul-Os on Wilson Creek are very special



Jimmy Vick back in action on Wilson Creek

John surfing it up on Eye Lid Peeler Wave

Sunday, October 14, 2018

No posts in awhile but the paddling has been great this year. Especially the good old dependables: Wilson, Watagua, Nolichucky, NF French Broad, Big Laurel and even high water Ocoee;-) As usual, also some fun MTB rides as well (especially Kitsuma, Mills River, DuPont, Warrior Creek, and HQ Mountain to name a few).

I feel extremely fortunate to be able to get outside and paddle, MTB, and/or hike as often as I do and I try to never take it for granted. Western NC is such an amazing place to live and there are so many potential adventures to undertake. I'm celebrating my 20th year living in Burke County this year and it has been one long adventure with a lot of ups and downs and I guess that's life, you cant have some ups without some downs. Ups and Downs, this phrase has a lot of potential for metaphors considering the outdoor sports that I love so much and how they utilize gravity and elevation changes to instill so much excitement, fun and most surprising life lessons. "What goes up must come down", "Pay to Play", or even "Surf it Out" can apply in so many situations both specifically and in the "Bigger Picture".

When I moved to Morganton I had already been kayaking for a few years and had canoed since I was able to buy one at 18. The initial canoe purchase was to fish out of and I used it as often as I could find someone to go with and sometimes solo. We lived in coastal NC and there is no shortage of water to paddle on "down East".

1987, The year I married and turned 22, my cousin Mike took me on a white water raft trip down the New River Gorge. Mike was a river guide / photographer / journalist who I owe a lot to in terms of starting me on a journey of chasing the white water dream. Mike had his own personal raft outfitted by him with an oarlock set up and room for two paddlers in the front. One of Mike's friends and a fellow raft guide was a nice lady who paddled along with me in the front of the raft. Mike's brother in law paddled with us as "safety boater" in a Perception Dancer kayak. I was hooked by the idea of kayaking at some point between when we launched at Cunard and when we go to Fayette Station, the take out. I was already very familiar with the New River Gorge, it was the area my parents were born and raised in and we visited every summer. My parents always managed to get us out to some of the local state parks, or check out the latest New River Gorge bridge construction in the 70's, visit Thurmond (close to where my mom was born) or even old mining town ruins - my dad spent some of his formative years living in one of these, Grandpa Ivey was a coal miner. I even remember going to Summersville Lake and the Gauley River release - long before there were commercial releases. One of my other cousins had taken me fishing along the banks of the New and swimming in Summersville Lake. I have always heard stories of my parents living the river life when they were kids (not paddling but hanging out around the river or Manns Creek in Babcock. Like many people all around the world my parents home town was located on a river, I was lucky it happened to be the New River Gorge!

 I owe my cousin Mike a lot for taking me on that rafting trip. It was an eye opening experience. After the paddling trip, I wasted no time heading to Fayetteville WV to the paddling shop to cost kayaks and gear. I was a struggling young technician, just married and could not afford what seemed like a small fortune to me at the time to spend on new gear to fully outfit myself and start kayaking. I remember the paddling shop guy telling me that since I lived in NC I would have a lot of opportunities to kayak. This was news to me at the time. What a long strange trip it has been since that epiphany was instilled in my head.

I was not able to afford a kayak that year but ended up buying a Perception Dancer from Mike's ex-brother in law 6 years later, when I was 28 (it was probably the same kayak he paddled that awesome day on the New River Gorge). That was about 24 years ago. I am getting old...

That's it for now - going to head out for some Wilson Creek runs but I will pick up here for my next blog post. Thanks for reading, if you have made it this far ;-)