By Emily Shanblatt
Creeking is unique style of kayaking. Categorized by lots of rocks, gradient, and tight or technical moves, many see creeking as a style of kayaking so different from river running or playboting that it practically requires it’s own skill set. Calling upon a different set of mental abilities as well, the steepness and elevated consequence of creeking requires the paddler to be confident in her abilities to make moves, catch eddies, and produce a plan B, C, or D instantaneously. Located in one of the world’s creek boating meccas, Girls at Play has recognized the importance of these skills, and the incredible fun and satisfaction that can come with this adrenaline filled, quick, technical style of paddling.
To share our amazing playground of local creeks, and help women everywhere step up their game, we’ve created our very own CREEK WEEK. Five days of creek boating in western North Carolina with the world class instruction that is Girls at Play. The week starts off on class III, as we discuss creeking maneuvers, techniques, and concepts. The theory of creek boating is almost as important as the details of the strokes. After asking how things went the first day, one woman responded with “Before, I’ve always tried to avoid rocks at all costs…Now I’m looking for them so I can hit them!”. In that humorous exclamation, she was referring to learning the boof stroke; a move used when going over a rock or drop to keep the kayaker’s bow up, in an effort to land flat, balanced, and in control. But not all of our time is spent discussing techniques and theories.
Throughout the week we progress to more difficult rivers, and encourage participants to play around with their boof strokes, and micro-eddy catching skills. We discuss river reading techniques through the lens of boat scouting, boofing, and safety, and give participants plenty of opportunities to practice scouting rapids, picking lines, and reading-and-running rapids.
Girls at Play’s first ever Creek Week happened this past month, and was a huge success. Women traveled from across the country (Colorado, Idaho, and Minnesota) and from all over the southeast to partake. We were very fortunate with a spell of rain hitting Asheville during the week, bringing up many of our favorite creeks like the Big Laurel, North Fork of the French Broad, and Wilson Creek. All of these creeks offer different skills to work on, and dynamic features and rapids that leaves everyone feeling challenged in some ways, and successful in countless others.
We also welcomed two highly acclaimed guest instructors to the program, Adriene Levknecht and Andrew Holcombe. Known as two of the best creek boaters in the world, Adriene and Andrew offer insight, experience, and a level of understanding about getting down rapids that is unparalleled by any other.
After our first ever creek week, one woman wrote us saying, “Life seems different now. One of my paddling goals had been to become more aware of different potentials on the river and understand better what I could do with them and how to handle it when plan A and B, (and C), don’t go as I intended. I did learn a ton, and that I have a ton more to learn! And, as so often happens, paddling is an apt metaphor for life in general.”
For more information on future Creek Weeks, check out our website or email [email protected] If you want to improve your kayaking before signing up for Creek Week, check out our Advanced clinics, or consider private instruction!