Raft Guide Thanksgiving

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A year or two ago we started a tradition of a Raft Guide Thanksgiving at our Ocoee Rafting outpost.  Peter smoked some turkeys and all the raft guide brought their best dishes.  We all had a blast!  This year we didn’t have a chance to do it during the rafting season, so Peter was supposed to host it at his house sometime in November.  Life (and a trip down the Grand Canyon) got in the way of that plan, so finally it was decided to have Raft Guide Thanksgiving in conjunction with a Super Bowl Party at Peter’s house.  We had a blast, good times, great food, great friends, and (mostly) understanding neighbors which all in all made  it a big hit.  We’d love to invite you to this next year, but sadly you’ve got to work for us to do that!  Interested in working for us?  Check out: http://www.ocoeeadventurecenter.com/other/working_with_oac.htm

Terri and Hunter

Terri and the future Mrs. George S.

Tammy - You might have seen her taking your picture!

Lovely Ladies of OAC

Trip Leader and Kayak Instructor Eric and his lovely wife Chris, who also teaches kayaking for us

We had a little bit of food...

There may have been a little flare up with the grill!

Peter (Back when all his hair was where it belonged)

Evandre looking on as I show off my new hairdo

It's a good thing they shoot great pictures, as Brent and Tammy aren't getting hired as mechanics anytime soon!

Brush Creek – Ocoee Area Mountain Biking Trip

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Last year about this time, a funny guy who knew our Ocoee Rafting Outpost “Mom”, Terri kept hanging around the outpost.  He needed a job, but at the time we didn’t really have much for him to do.  He kept hanging around though, and as we got busier jobs for him to do kept popping up.  Finally we hired him for photo work, and he started tagging along on biking and kayaking trips with us.  We’ve all come to love Luke and his slightly unorthodox ways, and this year have decided to give him a job as our Photography and Other Activities Manager.  Here’s a trip report he was kind enough to prepare for us of a recent mountain bike ride on Brush Creek.

Luke at the start of the Brush Creek Mountain Bike Ride

Luke at the start of the Brush Creek Mountain Bike Ride

We gathered around the picnic table dressed for winter as our breath hung on the morning air.  The morning sun brought with it tempatures in the mid thirties but also ushered in crisp bluebird skies and the promise of an amazing day.  We spent some time drinking coffee and tea, warming ourselves and getting to know one another.  Bikes loaded we made our way to the top of Boyd Gap, slowing down to watch a family of deer enjoy their breakfast just off the side of the road.  At the summit, the sun had crested the mountains revealing mountops blanketed in a snow white frost.  Once unloaded, we gathered for a couple of group photos and a moment to simply take in our surroundings.

Group Shot at the Brush Creek Trailhead

Here's the group before the Brush Creek Mountain Bike Ride

Brush Creek Trail - Boyd Gap Parking Lot

Happy guest trying out our Trek Mountain Bike

Brush Creek trail, from the Boyd Gap, side offers some wonderfully fun downhill to begin a ride.  Crisp, cool, with an open view of the forest, we glided downhill for a couple of miles  enjoying the cold air in our lungs and the switchbacks this trail has to offer.  By the time we reached the flatlands, the tempatures had begun to rise and the thought of cold was no longer on anyones mind. Zipping past towering populars and open meadows, the trail lead us up to some outstanding views of Ocoee Lake #3 and a perfect place to stop and enjoy a snack.

Which way to Brush Creek

Show us the way Luke!

Lake Ocoee #3 from the Brush Creek Trail

Looking at beautiful Lake Ocoee #3 from the Brush Creek Trail

By now, most of  us are down to shorts and short sleeves.  After some well deserved snacks, some history of the area, and lots of smiles and laughs, we mount up once again to finish the last leg of our journey.  We stop a few more times to chat with others we meet on the trail, to hear their story, and tell them ours.  We discuss and compare “fish stories,”  (heavily exaggerated, yet fun stories from the trail) and pedal the last bit of trail to our destination.  A bike ride with OAC always leaves me feeling like I accomplished something.  Today, I pushed myself a little harder, I made some new friends, shared some of the history of my life, and in return learned more about others.  Today, some of us acomplished something they didnt think they could do.  Today, we all grew as human beings.  Yes….today was a good day.

Blue Skies and Brush Creek

Blue Skies, happy guests and Brush Creek, who could ask for more?

Group Shot after the ride

Everybody tired and happy after riding Brush Creek

Videos from opening weekend of Ocoee Rafting Season

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This past weekend was opening weekend for the 2011 Ocoee Rafting Season.  We had a few customers brave the perfect sunny weather and enjoy a rafting trip on the Ocoee.  A bunch of our Ocoee Rafitng Guides also gathered to reunite with old friends, meet our new trainees, and enjoy a cookout.

We’ve been blessed with some new toys over the winter, giving us the opportunity to share just how much fun we have on the Ocoee River.  Here are a couple of videos from one of our Ocoee River Guides, Evandre.  Also in the boat are one of our long time guides, Katy, Nick who will be back for his second season in 2011 and Whitney, one of our photographers.  It sure is a shame we don’t enjoy our jobs!

Cheoah River Pictures

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Saturday was a nice warm day, a preview of many more to come.  I’m still down from knee surgery, but needed to get out of the house.  I headed over to the Cheoah, an hour or so from our Ocoee Rafting outpost to take pictures of the carnival.  Got some openboaters styling it, an openboater testing the water temperature, several of our Ocoee River Guides looking good and a pretty cool raft rescue of a kayaker having a bad day.  Enjoy!

All good so far

One drop down, one to go

Working on the roll

Still working

L'edge's to the rescue

 

It was a nice warm day for a swim

Blake and friend

Dax getting it done

Archie looking smooth

It was warm, but this is definitely not a great place for a swim

Rubber to the rescue

Safe and Sound

Long Boat

Is that a beaver on his head?

 

 

Ocoee Adventure Center Guides in Alabama

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A couple of our Ocoee Rafting guides, Rob and Daniel have been spending a fair amount of time in Alabama this winter on the always beautiful Little River Canyon.  Here’s a helmet camera video that Rob put together of one of their recent trips.   Make sure it’s displayed in 720p for full HD video. Enjoy!

Ocoee River Tandem Kayak Trip with the Ocoee Adventure Center

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Our Ocoee River Rafting Guide, Dave was kind enough to write a trip report of his recent trip taking his twin sister down the Ocoee in our Jackson Kayaks Dynamic Duo.  Thanks to him for the report and our photographer Lewis for the pictures.  Oh, did I mention that you too could do this – we take customers down the river in these awesome boats – feel free to call us and we’ll give you the details!

My twin sister Patty is not quite what you would call a whitewater enthusiast, but she has made the long drive from Louisiana to Ducktown, TN every summer for the past few years.  She has experienced the area in a number of exciting ways like rafting on the Ocoee Rivermountain biking, hiking, and campfire watching.  As I prepared for her annual visit this summer, I racked my brain trying to think of new ways to entertain her.  Additionally I was considering how I could scratch that never ending itch to kayak the Ocoee River as the weather continues to grow more beautiful every day.

Ocoee River Tandem Kayak

Dave and Patty before their tandem Ocoee Trip

I had an epiphany that enabled me to kill two birds with one stone!  I’ll go kayaking and take my sister down the river in a kayak.  “but I have never kayaked before!” Patty argued.  I told her she had nothing to fear.  Our benevolent manager, Peter, at OAC had given me permission use of one of the new Jackson Dynamic Duos that the company kayak instructors use to take beginners down river.  These kayaks provide a unique surface level view of the river for folks who don’t want to spend a whole season building up their kayak skills to paddle the Ocoee.  “We are gonna look like Siamese kayakers!”  If you’ve never seen one, a tandem kayak headed down a class IV river catches quite a few looks from kayakers and rafters alike.  Throughout the day I kept hearing things like “Is that boat stable?”  “That looks like fun!” and “Can you paddle that boat with someone who can’t kayak?”  I could confidently answer all such questions with a resounding YES!  “It’s a super stable boat and she’s never even kayaked before! It’s a blast!”

Ocoee River Tandem Kayaking

Dave and Patty entering Double Trouble on the Ocoee River

Ocoee River Kayaking

Where is she?

At first, Patty was a little nervous.  After a styling it though the first class IV rapid, she began to calm down and have a little more fun.  A couple of OAC’s premiere raft guides/saftey boaters, Archie and George, joined us on the water to make sure we were safe.  As Patty started to enjoy the cool splashing rapids, we started to grow a little more adventurous.  We decided to go in for a few surfs at slice and dice, a popular play spot on the Ocoee, and we even got a few cheers and shouts from the spectators and kayakers watching.  When we started to approach Double Trouble I told her to make sure she was looking good in her photo.  As you can tell from the pictures, Patty took this as her cue to open her mouth as wide as possible and scream at the top of her lungs!

Ocoee River Tandem Kayaking

Patty looks more than a little excited!

Half way down, Archie and George decided to fill her in on some kayaking lingo so she would look and sound like a real kayaker.  They taught her some key words and phrases like gnarley, sick nasty, and huck your meat, essential to every hardcore boater’s vocabulary.

Ocoee River Kayaking

Emerging from the froth at Double Trouble on the Ocoee

Ocoee River Kayaking

Heading for the second wave of Double Trouble on the Ocoee River

Ocoee River Tandem Kayaking

Closeup of the twins. Too bad Ocoee Adventure Center Guides are a dull bunch!

Ocoee River Kayaking

The other brother, Archie keeping an eye on the twins

We safely navigated the last few rapids like Table Saw and Cat’s Pajama’s and finished off the day in front of a cheering crowd of onlookers at Hell Hole.  I was thankful to get to share such an experience with my Siamese twin kayaker sister.  I’m not sure if she will get bit with the kayaking bug that has gripped her brothers, but Patty said her experience in the Dynamic Duo was the most fun she’s ever had on the river.  The Prentice twins look forward to many more high adventure days on the water with my fellow OAC crew, whatever the craft may be.

Ocoee River Kayakers below Double Trouble

Archie, Dave and Patty, enjoying another beautiful day on the Ocoee River

North Chickamauga Creek with Ocoee Adventure Center Guides and Staff

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When I try to explain to my friends and family why I choose to leave a fairly successful real estate career to work at the river and manage a bunch of Ocoee River Raft Guides (imagine herding feral cats) sometimes it’s difficult to properly explain.  Days like yesterday on the North Chick make it a whole lot easier though!  While the rest of the world was sitting at their desks, I had the opportunity to go paddling with Rob L., Daniel S., Eric D. and Billy P. – four of our extraordinary raft guides.  Not just paddling any old river though, we were on North Chick, one of the prettiest, most fun class IV runs around.  It’s been several years since I ran the Chick, and I must admit I was a little bit nervous as we suited up to begin the bushwhacking hike to the putin, but 80 degree weather, blue skies, and a solid crew eased my worries.

Putin Scenery at North Chickamauga

Most of my other runs of North Chick have been done in the winter, with cold weather, short days and no leaves on the trees.  This trip was certainly different though, shorts and a tee-shirt, daylight till 9pm, and the riverside was so green it felt almost like paddling in Costa Rica!

I’d never putin where we did for this trip.  We met a  gentlemen working around the putin who informed us that next week a gate would be put up and we’d have to find another spot to get on the river, but he was fine with us parking there for the day – he wished us a great trip and we started walking.  Team No Roll had told me this new putin was great – just a quick easy stroll to the river, but of course they were messing with the boss.  It started out easy enough, but ended with bushwhacking through rhododendron – still though, it allows you to run the North Chick side of the creek without all the flatwater at the top and was over pretty quick.

The run starts right out with fun class iii boogie water leading up to the first big rapids, Welcome Center followed by Mystery falls.  Mystery falls is the first really big drop on the North Chick.  Everybody but the boss man ran it today.

The camera doesn't zoom out much, but this shows the majority of the drop

Here’s a slideshow of Rob demonstrating a perfect boof, along with the reason for the name “Mystery Falls”

Billy airing it out

Eric heading for the mystery

Daniel mid-flight

From here class iii-iv boogie water continued.  This was the lowest I’ve run the chick, but I was surprised at how well it channelized – it never felt low or scrapey.

Nice scenery

A surprising amount of fun play was to be had, even at the lower level

Billy surfing the day away

Have I mentioned just how pretty this place is?  Crystal clear water, lush riverside scenery, and really fun rapids combined to make it feel like we were paddling in a remote jungle – hard to believe this is 30 minutes from downtown Chattanooga!

Rapids and Scenery

Eric hamming it up - Shudder Rudder?

The other big drop on the North Chick is North Chick Falls.  It looked a little hungry today, with a scrapey lip that made it hard to get to where you wanted to be.  We all took the easy walk around it, and took a break on the rocks basking in the sun and perfect surroundings.

Closeup of the falls

View of North Chick Falls

Great spot for a break

While we were taking our break, Daniel and Rob began discussing the surfing properties of their respective boats.  Rob insisted that Daniel’s Nomad wasn’t any fun in a hole.  Daniel disagreed, and decided to prove his point.  Unfortunately for him, he was right – the Nomad was great in a hole – especially once Daniel got out of the boat and let it do it’s own thing.

Who says a Nomad is no good in a hole?

Daniel swears he was attacked by a paddlesnake while in the hole – lo and behold look what we found basking in the sun and the glory of the swim he just caused.  Out of fairness I should mention that at some unnamed rapid I may have decided to test the waters myself, and found them to be refreshing, so Daniel wasn’t the only swimmer of the day!

Viscious beast - a Paddlesnake making a rare out of water appearance

Waterfalls cascaded into the creek throughout the run

More Scenery

I stood under this waterfall for a few minutes - awesome massage!

Daniel - sneak around V-slot

Showing off for the camera

Special Place

This was a spectacular day, it reminds me of how fortunate I am to be able to work, live and play in such a special area.

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