Whitewater Kayaking: The Secret to Beautiful Lines

If you’ve taken kayak instruction from me you know that I’m a big believer in the importance of boat angle in running beautiful lines. The ability to set and maintain your angle when running a rapid can make or break your line, and the amount of control you have going in and out of eddies is directly related to angle. Angle is more important than speed, especially when running lower volume, technical rivers. The crux is how well you can maintain your angle because setting your angle is the easy part! Here are two POV videos of the same rapid 

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Women’s Paddlefest 2018

Thank you to those of you who attended Women’s Paddlefest at the Nantahala Outdoor Center and raised close to $3000.00 for charity! High water, mudslides and rain days before the event didn’t stop you from joining in community, empowering yourselves and having fun. Instead of canceling we went ahead with the event modifying programming to Lake Fontana and the Nantahala, and consolidating the event to one day. We had 30 women on the lake and Anne Sontheimer from the NOC and I split the group and gave instruction on strokes and edge control/rolling. At the end of the lake session 

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How to Paddle Class IV with Fewer Strokes

I recently posted a video of me running my favorite rapid, Boxcar, on the North Fork of the French Broad here in Western North Carolina. The rapid consists of a short slide leading into a 15 ft drop that you boof into a beautiful little gorge. Here it is for you! Both my Creek Week students and folks online expressed surprise at how few strokes I took to run the rapid smoothly. Taking fewer strokes is one big difference between beginner/intermediate skills and intermediate/advanced skills, especially stepping it up to Class IV creeking. As you progress you learn that creating 

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Things I Wish I Had Known Sooner: A Kayaking FAQ Part 1

Take a moment to think back to when you first got into kayaking, when you were the new kid on the block. Are there “little” things that you know now that you barely need to think about but that were a source of frustration or puzzlement in the beginning? After spending a summer teaching new kayakers and fielding all sorts of questions, I got inspired to put together a short list of things I wish I had known earlier in my kayaking experience. A FAQ for new kayakers, if you will. While this list is far from comprehensive, these are 

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Simple Reminders

It’s Sunday morning in January in McCall, Idaho, and I’m kicking away at the snowbank alongside my yurt in an effort to excavate my creek boat from where it’s been wintering underneath. My hands are already frozen from attaching my kayak stackers to my roof rack in the bitter cold, and now my toes are freezing too. “Why did I agree to this?” I mutter to myself as I tug on the grab loop of my Mamba while continuing to kick out a big enough opening to wrangle it through. In flurry of ice shards, she finally breaks free and 

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How to Build Emotional Resilience on the Water

According to the dictionary, resilience is defined as, ‘the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.’ A second definition is: ‘the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.’ When you experience a difficult, disappointing or scary situation on the water how quickly do you recover? Are you able to let it roll off your back and feel empowered to paddle on? No matter your answer, know that you can increase your resilience with practice. In the past, when I performed poorly in a competition or got trashed on a river and swam out of my kayak I 

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Why You Should Take an International Paddling Trip

A really smart woman once told me I didn’t need a drysuit when I could just boat where it’s warm enough not to wear one. Inspired by this approach to winter boating, I booked my first international kayaking trip to Mexico and have been traveling ever since. Although it’s not quite drysuit season yet and the warm weather has me wondering if I’m ever going to need my drysuit again, fall is always a time when I start dreaming about my next big adventure, preferably to a more tropical location. You don’t have to be an expert boater to enjoy 

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The River, my Old Friend

Mind Body Paddle recently re-posted the very first blog post I wrote at Anna’s request—the story of how I became a kayak instructor, written before I actually started instructing.  Written before I ever knew that I would end up working for Girls at Play/Mind Body Paddle. I was in high school, writing about this dream I had of guiding people down the river. I was signed up to teach kayaking on the Wolf River in Wisconsin that upcoming summer, despite my status as a novice boater. I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that I was 

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The Risk of Playing it Safe

When I struggle with a line it’s usually because I’m trying to play it too safe. In this photo it’s obvious that I’m struggling with my angle. That’s because I used too much right angle attempting to avoid the hole and rock at the bottom. Had I relaxed and kept my boat angle a little more downstream I would not be struggling physically and mentally. I witness this in myself and also in my kayak students. In our attempt to avoid an obstacle or intimidating feature we end up in a more dangerous place. We also often end up in 

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Honesty is the Best Policy

“Guys, I think I’m done.” “What!?” We’d barely paddled a mile yet. I sighed. I looked around, up at the cloudless blue Idaho sky, down at the matching blue Salmon River, upstream towards the rapid I’d just swam. It hadn’t been a bad swim. Not pleasant, but not terribly damaging or dangerous. “I’m fine. I just don’t want to mess up again,” I said, biting my lip. Joe turned to face me from where he was perched in the rocks, emptying my boat. “Angela, you have some of the best lines of all of us. You just so happened to 

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Meet Anna Levesque

Anna Levesque is the leading expert on paddling instruction for women and yoga for paddling, including SUP Yoga. Named one of the most inspirational paddlers alive by Canoe and Kayak Magazine, Anna’s twenty-plus years of experience as an accomplished international competitor, instructor, coach and author has landed her in mainstream publications such as TIME, SHAPE and SELF.

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"I went to Anna with feelings of anxiety, frustration, depression and fatigue – I felt sort of "stuck" and rudderless.  My Ayurveda consult was thorough, insightful, and nurturing.  Anna provided me with a number of specific suggestions for diet and lifestyle changes, and some simple routines to incorporate into my life  – not radical changes, but small modifications and additions I actually could DO. This, in itself, was empowering.  A number of Anna’s suggestions have proved to work very well for me and are bringing the balance and focus back into my life.”  - Dee, Plant Biologist, Paddling Enthusiast,VA

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