Now. On Water.
I recently had the opportunity to paddle the Upper Nantahala for the first time. This is referred to as a personal first descent or a PFD in the jargon of whitewater. I’ve not had that experience – a PFD – in over a decade, and it was a revelatory reminder of why I do this... a reminder of what can unfold when I suit up, stretch the skirt over the boat’s deck, and push off the earth into a liquid wilderness. Each river has a spirit... a personality that it manifests; its moods changing with conditions and volume of water. A first descent down a whitewater river is akin to dancing with a partner that you’ve just met: thrilling yet a little awkward. And much like a first dance, it’s critical to pay attention - to be sensitive to what is unfolding. The Upper Nantahala is described as a “creek” run meaning that it has a relatively steep gradient and a smaller channel of water running through a rock maze. Horizon lines (places where you cannot see what’s downstream because of a steep