While Emily and Mary Frances were touring the West Coast Cindy and Anna hit the East Coast for their own paddling adventures! Here is a recap of the first half of the trip narrated by Anna and Cindy so you get an idea of the trip from their unique perspectives…
Anna: The fun started with a clinic on the Green River hosted by Sunrift Adventures in Traveller’s Rest, SC. The Green is my favorite hometown river! Saturday provided us with a beautiful beginner day on the Lower Green that involved some slalom maneuvering between people floating on tubes. That was followed up by an exciting intermediate paddle on Sunday down the Upper. We hung out a Bayliss to run it a few times and try out the different lines and also did some surfing in my favorite spot on the river. The weather cooperated with a typical Western North Carolina thunderstorm right after we took off. After the weekend Cindy loaded her kayak on the top of her rental car using a nifty soft rack system and took off to go to the Nantahala Gorge to catch up with friends and paddle the Ocoee and Pigeon. I stayed in Asheville and did some office work (not as exciting).
Cindy: The next weekend we packed our panties and headed for the Potomac and were officially on tour! After driving 8 hours through Virginia the first thing we did when we got to D.C. was throw our boats on the water. We paddled up to Maryland Chute a favorite play spot in the area to knock off the road dust and it did just the trick. We then navigated our way past the Pentagon, Washington Monument, the Capitol Building and many other monuments to Nate and Liz’s house for the start of a wonderful week of hospitality by Potomac River Outfitters!
Anna: We were up and at it for a weekend of clinics and awesome water. Saturday was an awesome beginner clinic on a beautiful flatwater section of the Potomac followed by a short run on Violets. Lots of roll practice and fun in the current. We were stoked to hear that most of the women in the clinic were hooked on kayaking and couldn’t wait to get back out! Sunday’s clinic was super sweet as we got to paddle the Little Falls section with some kick-butt intermediate women. It was inspiring to watch the ladies go for the big water lines! Paddling on the Potomac is wild because you’re only 11 miles from the White House and yet it feels like the middle of nowhere (besides the HUGE houses that lines the Virginia side).
Cindy: On Monday Anna and I took a day off and went into the city via the subway and checked out the National Museum of the American Indian. It was awesome and inspirational. We also hung out on the Mall, people watched, drank coffee and took creative photos of the capital building and the monuments. We then decided to take the metro to Foggy Bottom and walk to Georgetown to meet Nate and Liz for dinner. This provided us with plenty of opportunity for exercise, window shopping and more people watching. One thing is for sure, high-waisted mini skirts are in fashion in Gtown right now.
The next day found us on the Mather Gorge Section of the Potomac, just below Great Falls. Wow, what a sight. Herons were abundant swooping and fishing everywhere. Before putting on the river we checked out the overlook to Great Falls. Risa Shimoda, female paddling pioneer, was our tour guide. As she was pointing out the lines on Great Falls I could see Anna’s wheels turning. Completing our shuttle for the day we ran into Jason Beakes and some buddies who were headed out to run the falls so we booked it to the overlook to see their lines. It was awesome. What was even more awesome was the soundtrack from tourists on the overlook also watching the boys run the falls. Lots of ‘Whoa!’ in various accents. The deal was sealed and Anna was to run the falls the next day! Yay!
The next afternoon I watched as Jason and Anna paddled down one of the many canals in the area to put on for Great Falls. I made it to the overlook as they were scouting and got this footage http://youtu.be/BC-eNE3PdLs of Anna running the falls. Anna told me she had some nerves about it for sure and she went out there and went for it, good lessons to keep raising the bar for myself. Off the hook and inspirational!!
Anna: I was super nervous paddling Great Falls, but I also knew that I had the skills and would be super stoked if I did. It was REALLY fun! It feels really good to run something big like that and to use the tricks in my ‘toolbox’ to stay calm, focused and on-line. Jason was a fantastic guide and knew how to explain the perfect lines. I was really proud because it can be tempting to take the easy way and stay in my comfort zone, yet taking risks and accomplishing goals is much more satisfying, fun and inspirational for all aspects of my life. Jazzed on running the Falls we went straight to Angler’s where I met Sonya for a private while Cindy hopped in my playboat for some surfing on Maryland Chute. The evening ended with awesome food prepared by Nate!
Cindy: The Potomac was so generous: a wonderful community of paddlers,Potomac River Outfitters, the Great Falls, dinner always at 9 : ), Henry the schnoodle GAP honorary mascot, little falls and bloody lips, always taking a different more scenic route than the last through the city and the list could go on and on.
Heading out of DC with spirits high we drove up the throat of the East Coast…holy cow…Baltimore, Philly, NYC seriously right through the Bronx and Queens in the pouring rain with 5 kayaks on top, some serious class V driving! We found ourselves in Vermont at a peaceful campsite and Andrew was waiting with some homemade pot pies…yummy. Wanderlust festival and Deepak Chopra were the reasons for pit stop in the green state. While Anna was exploring new Yoga postures and studying with all the best teachers in Yoga, I hit the Appalachian Trail for 8 miles of pure mud and bliss, so good to say hello to my old friend the trail. Deepak Chopra was amazing that evening. It was my first introduction to him and he is right on, we are all connected in more ways than I had imagined.
Anna: Our pit stop in VT was amazing for me. Not only did I get to spend an evening with my awesome husband who was on his way to Zoar, but I also got to take yoga classes with some of the most renowned yoga teachers in the world. Each class had over 400 students in it and still, they were profound. The first Om that we chanted was truly moving. Never before had I tuned into and shared the vibration of so many people at once. Highlights for me were taking a class with John Friend, founder of Anusara Yoga, learning more about shoulder, back and neck therapy from Desiree Rumbough (great for me and my kayak students!) and the reminder from Sean Corne to take responsibility for my life and follow my path with love, compassion and courage. After three yoga classes in a row and an amazing talk by Deepak Chopra I was pretty sore, tired yet energized and inspired.
Cindy: On to Old Forge NY, what in my mind is the heart of the Adirondacks. We met the folks at Mountain Man and word was a local creek was in with all the rain, so we made plans for an evening run of the Woodhull aka The Miracle Mile. In the meantime, Anne hooked us up with some SUP boards and we paddled into the flat waters behind the store. I was certain I would see a moose and was keeping my eyes peeled, now I am convinced they are just really shy and were hiding from me. Trading our SUP boards in for creek boats we headed to the Woodhull with a posse of four other stoked paddlers. It was the Miracle Mile! A great intro to creeking for me and a playground for Anna. Shuttling back to the top was just as fun too! What a group of enthusiastic and tenacious paddlers, Bamm! We took off the creek just as it was dark meeting up with our host for the night, Anne, over a beer…me still a little in awe of creeking.The next morning would find us meeting up with six amazing women to paddle the Middle Moose. With water levels up it made for a fun and adventurous day.
Anna: The Middle Moose was at the perfect level for the clinic! And I was really stoked to have young women in the clinic who were getting into boating. Usually Girls at Play clinics are filled with women between the ages of 30 and 55 which I love and it was really awesome to paddle with the younger generation as well — so eager and ready to go! Emery Tillman drove over from VT to help out with the clinic which was also perfect. We had our trusty guide, Boulder the dog, swimming and running along with us too.
Cindy: Pulling out of Old Forge feeling like we just hit the tip of the iceberg there for paddling.
Moseying north up to Canada through more of the Adirondacks and let me just tell you there is a lot more out there, was a treat I had not anticipated, beautiful. Final destination for the night, the Levesque house. We sailed across the Canadian border and into Anna’s hometown. What a treat to meet Anna’s family and bask in their hospitality, I am a lucky girl for sure. We made our way over to the Rouge river in Quebec, the birthplace of Anna’s paddling career. After having a flat tire that morning we were happy to get to the river and then we ran into her first paddling instructor, Karen LaCombe. We put on with their raft trip and it was obvious that these two women were stoked to see each other, full circle for sure. And just think if we hadn’t had that flat…never know how the universe is going to work in your favor. I get excited right now thinking about the ride down the Rouge…some big water and munchy little holes, I like the big water, just sayin’. Oh and I have found out about cheese curds, dang those tasty little morsels!
Anna: It was great fun to paddle the beautiful Seven Sisters section of the Rouge after so many years. And running into Karen was awesome! The river was at a really good level — about 80 cumex (that’s cubic meters per second – Canadian style). The rafting section had big waves and holes and I was stoked to see Cindy do so well! Her combat roll is getting bomber and she negotiated the boils well too. It was also fun to paddle with Andrew. He of course ran the first two waterfalls even though they were very high — too high for most people to run, but he’s not most people. I admit that I was happy that he decided to not run the third, fourth and fifth falls because the holes at the bottom were massive, recirculating pits. Super scary. Unfortunately we forgot the camera so we didn’t get to capture any of it in photos.
This is our last night at my parent’s house. We head up to the Ottawa Valley tomorrow to paddle and introduce Cindy to one of my all-time favorite rivers! Will and Kate (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) are arriving in Ottawa tomorrow for Canada Day celebrations so we hope to make it through the city before all of the craziness. And we’ll tell you what happens next in our next blog post! ‘Til then happy paddling!
For more photos of our trip please go to our facebook page!