I expect to move to Athens OH in summer. I’ve been living north of Tampa for a few years paddling spring runs,rivers,the Gulf and Atlantic. Easy stuff. I’ve been a surfer all my life and always wanted to learn whitewater kayaking. Where do I go to learn technique, pick a good boat and cold water gear. Or am I living too far from being able to get into whitewater regularly and stick to enjoying what I here is some decent flat water near Athens.
You’ll have to drive a couple of hours to get to the whitewater in West Virginia and Pennsylvania from Athens, but the good news is that it’s very good. Here’s some folks who can help you get started, but there are many others:
Lots of people further away than you …
drive to Pa and Wva throughout the year. I live in MI and go there several times. It should be easy to find someone to go with.
Out of Your Way, But…
I too have been a long time surfer, but I’ve had a long-standing curiosity about WW kayaking.
Last summer I finally signed on for an intensive seven-day program at Otter Bar Lodge in northern California. This turned out to be a “total experience.” In addition to a three-to-one student to instructor ratio, the locale is absolutely fantastic. Beautiful accommodations in a remote and pristine forest setting on the banks of the California Salmon River. Meals that were among the best I’ve ever had. Perfect Class II & III conditions for learning proper techniques under the watchful eye of world class instructors.
I was so taken by the experience that I’m returning this August to continue my WW “education”…and I’ve recruited three of my surfing mates to join me. I know it’s a long way from your new home…but its worth checking out. Check the latest edition of Hooked on the Outdoors magazine for a feature article about OBL…or go to their website at http://www.otterbar.com
A lot closer
Nantahala Outdoor Center.
For getting started, that is. Then, you're not that far away to play all summer long in WV.
When you get good enough, step up to the fall release...
No need to go all the way to California!
Listent to the Dr. & ABC…
There are lots of folks who travel several hours to paddle whitewater. (Example: Next weekend I may be traveling to GA for a weekend whitewater run. Bear in mind, I live in IL) My 06 has 2 or 3 Nantahala trips planned (7-8 hour drive for me). As ABC said, make the “Nanty” your first trip and go to NOC and bring your $$ and you will be good to go. If you can’t find your gear there you need a new hobby. After that you are just hours from WV (i’m jealous). I also think that to some degree, not having instant access to whitewater makes each paddle that much more special. It’s also part of the reason I am such a crappy paddler :-).
You’re in luck. Athens is close to some of the best paddling in the US. I live in Chillicothe, about an hour west of Athens and used to pick up my brother-in-law (a student at OU) on the way to running the Yough, Cheat, New, Gauley - some of the east’s best WW.
I know OU has an outdoor club and schedules paddling activities/clinics which may also be attended by locals in Athens. Although you could drive down to NOC in NC as several have suggested, almost every river outfitter in nearby WV has a kayak school - North American River Runners (NARR) in Hico, Wildwater Expeditions in Lansing and ACE in Oak Hill come to mind (New River based outfitters), and there are a lot more if you do some research. Plus, you’d make contact with area paddlers and learn the local rivers.
From Athens you’ll also be able to access the I-77/79/81 corridor which can have you paddling in western PA, western VA, eastern TN and all of WV in just a few hours each direction (of course to a paddler, an 6 hour drive to access a 6 hour float is just a “few” hours) Soon other names like the Ocoee, Nolichucky, Emory-Obed, and Tygart will be added to your paddling list.
We’re on our 3rd generation of paddlers here in Chillicothe, with most being members of the Burned Out Canoe Club. After about 20 years of doing a little “hair” paddling, I now pretty much resign myself to the easier class II-III sections, but there are still a lot of the young guys running the New River Gorge, Gauley, Upper Yough, Balckwater, etc almost every weekend.
I think you’re gonna like the area once you get settled in.
Last time I say real ww in athens was during a flood whites mill. Class IV+ (killer). there are some good spots to paddle there though, its not compleatly flat, I should know I spent the first 18years of my life in athens. Email me and I can set you in the right direction.
The Hocking used to flood every spring…
…it wasn’t unknown for some of the dorms to get
water on the first floor.
You are not going to be too far
from some of the best whitewater in the world. Within two hours of the Youghiogheney in PA and the Gauley,Tygart,Greenbrier,and Cheat rivers in WV. Even the New River is not that far. Check the American Whitewater pages for West Virginia http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/state/WV and PA http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/state/PA
Very good learning centers and boat stores in Ohiopyle and Confluence PA, check AW’s Gear, Guides and Services for schools and stores in the area http://www.americanwhitewater.org/ggs/region/PA/
and every fall, but thats not the point. I have paddled flood at home in athens county, and it is not the water you want to learn on.
learning WW in Athens OH
There’s almost nothing immediately local to Athens, as far as whitewater goes. One class 2+ drop in Logan, a class 4 drop in town with severe consequences, and a few little known and seldom runnable creeky waterfalls.
Both Ohio Univeristy (in town) and Hocking College (10 miles away) have good instructional programs, however.
There also are pool sessions every Tues night at OU during the academic year and every Wed evening at Hocking, with loaner boats available and plenty of people to help you learn strokes, etc. at both locations. OU’s pool is especially nice - very big and low chlorine content.
Distances from Athens to typical beginner runs -
2 1/2 hours to upper New
3 hours to Casselman/Yough region
2 hours to Paint Creek/Rocky Fork, Olentangy
Because OH doesn’t have much WW in state and requires boat registration to boat those streams, most Athens paddlers head for WV or PA as a first choice.
I know people who play in Whites Mill at flood levels. That takes a lot bigger set than I have.
I might know some of the same people.
also, kevin, cheak out the role session at hocking college. I know the guy who runs it, its free. There is also one (last year at least) in the OU pool every week, run by the same guy.