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!

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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.

Ocoee River Rafting Videos – Surfing the Ocoee River

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Wednesday April 14th, Highway 64, the Ocoee River Road opened a few days earlier than planned, after the Road Blocking, plan crushing, big pain in the rear rock slide which kept it closed all winter, allowing our opening weekend to go on as planned.  We had several whitewater rafting trips go out in the beautiful spring weather, and the world returned to its proper state!  One of our Whitewater Kayaking instructors, Christine paddled along with our first trip of the year and shot these videos and pictures, thanks to her for sharing them with us!

There are many whitewater rafting companies on the Ocoee, so sometimes it might be a little hard for the average rafting customer to tell the difference.  One major difference that gives the Ocoee Adventure Center a big leg up on the competition is the amount of time we spend on the river – 33% more time in fact.  We surf and play our way downstream, as the following two videos show.

Here’s Eric, one of our awesome guides, Trip Leaders and our head whitewater kayak instructor surfing and spinning it up.

So what exactly do we mean when we say surfing?  When water moving quickly downstream flows over a rock that’s just below the surface, if forms what we call a “hole” or “hydraulic”.   The water flows over the rock and reverses it’s course by heading back upstream.  If a hole is powerful enough it can recirculate whatever is in it.  In some cases this can be a problem, causing the boat to flip or have an extended “surf” in the backwash, but in others, as in “Hollywood Hole” below, it gives an opportunity for big fun, by surfing the hydraulic almost as you would an ocean wave.  On the Ocoee Adventure Center’s Ocoee River Rafting trips our experienced Ocoee River Rafting guides know which holes to avoid and which ones to play in, and our rafting trips are designed with this in mind, leaving us plenty of play time while other companies cruise on by.

Amy spinning the day away, surfing Hollywood Hole

Christine was also kind enough to get some great pictures of the trip from places where you don’t often see still photos, here are some of them!

Ocoee River Raft Surfing

Firestone surfing it up at Hollywood on the first trip of the year

Ocoee River Rafting

Daniel with the old school helmet, getting his surf on

Ocoee River Whitewater Rafting and Surfing

Amy surfing Hollywood Hole on the Ocoee River