White Water Kayaking with Amy Arnold

White Water kayaking

Author : Amy Christine Arnold (formerly Cleary)
Adventurous Wanderings

I have been white water rafting before and it was an exhilarating adventure! Rafting through Class III, IV and V rapids was such a rush! I’ve also gone kayaking before on calm rivers or out in the ocean. Kayaking is both peaceful and relaxing. I’ve never had the desire to combine those two things and go white water kayaking; however, on a trip up to North Carolina, my husband and I met a group of people that loved white water kayaking. They spoke so highly of it, we decided to give it a go. Considering we live in Florida and there is no white water, we thought we should take advantage of being in North Carolina.

The next day we visited the NOC or Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, NC. We looked over the different options that were available and decided on the “Introduction to White Water Kayaking” full-day course with a private instructor.

Our white water kayaking adventure was schedule for 8 am the next morning. I have to admit, the thought of it terrified me. You are in that little kayak, with a skirt attached to you and wrapped around the kayak. What happens if you flip over and can’t get out? Nerve-wracking! With that said, you know the best thing about being scared, pushing through it!

We arrived early in the morning; we were very eager to get out on the water! We got into our wetsuits and then into our kayaks.

White Water kayaking Prep

Once we had the proper kayaks, it was time to put on the full gear, including the dreaded spray skirt. The outfit all together is quite the look.

White Water Kayaking Gear

When all the gear was on, it was time to carry our kayaks to the car and hit the road.

White Water Kayak

The first half of the day would be spend at Fontana Lake going over the basic skills like strokes, edging, boat control and safety maneuvers like rollover/escape. The lake was beautifully calm! We spend a couple of hours paddling around this picture perfect location learning the kayaking skills and admiring the view.

White Water Kayaking Lake

Then came the part of the training that I was dreading, what to do if your kayak flips over leaving you underwater. My husband went first and was smiling the entire time. I wish I could say the same for me. My face in the below picture says it all.

The instructor starts by turning you over then he turns you right back up. OK, that wasn’t so bad. The next drill, he flips you upside down, you hit the side of the kayak three times and then he turns you back up. The last drill and my least favorite of all – the instructor turns you upside down and you have to get out of the kayak and up to the surface on your own. Surprisingly, it was easy to get out of the kayak. You basically just pop out. All this time I had this fear of getting trapped in the kayak if I flipped over and then learned, it is way easier to get out than I thought!

White Water Kayaking Solo

Before we knew it, the morning had flown by and our skill training was done. It was time for some lunch then it was off to the river to put those skills to the test. The river of choice was the Little Tennessee River. Since this was our first time white water kayaking, the instructor had us do the part of the river that went from Class I to Class II.

First time white water kayaking, I can say those Class I and Class II rapids felt like Class IV rapids. It is a very different intimidating experience versus being in a raft.

White Water Kayaking Rapid

Our white water kayaking adventure was amazing. When we were out on the river, no one flipped over and if we would have, we would have known how to get out of our kayak safely. If you have the desire to try white water kayaking, do it. You won’t regret that decision.


***Since I’m in Antarctica without internet access for 22 consecutive days, I’ve selected a few articles from other great bloggers to share with you. I’ll be back on February 3rd, 2015 with loads of fantastic adventures from Antarctica to share. Chat soon.***

28 thoughts on “White Water Kayaking with Amy Arnold

  1. What an intrepid young woman you are! You may be interested to know that my youngest son (22) got himself into the Guinness Book of Records when, in winning a solo rowing race across the Atlantic in 2004, he achieved the feat in 59 days, becoming the youngest person ever to have rowed an ocean

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Steve! Sounds like an awesome trip you are about to embark on!!

      You will love Bryson Ciity! It’s a very cute town. Makes you feel like you traveled back in time as you walk through the “downtown area”.

      For this trip, my husband and I rode our motorcycles up to Gatlinburg to spend a few days there. While there, we talked to a company that was doing white water kayaking in Bryson City. So we only stayed a half day in Bryson aside from the full day out kayaking so we didn’t get a chance to explore much.

      There was a great place to eat called Bryson City Cork and Bean. We loved it!!! http://www.brysoncitycorkandbean.com/ We also grabbed a beer at Nantahala Brewing Company.

      One thing we wanted to do but didn’t get a chance to due to time was ride on the The Smokey Mountain Railway but when we make our way back there, we plan on it. Here is the link for that: http://www.gsmr.com/

      Hope you have a wonderful trip!!!



  2. Amy, great story and thanks for talking about going underwater. I’ve never had a desire to kayak and that is the main reason why: I’ve had this terror of going upside down and being trapped. I had no idea it was easy to get out of that situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Crystal, the underwater part is the main reason I didn’t do it for so long too!!! I was so thankful they did that drill to let us practice. Even though I didn’t like practicing it, it helped calm my nerves before we took it out to the river. I highly recommend signing up!! The instructor was amazing and walked us through each step of the way!!!

      Thanks for reading my story 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What an amazing and fun adventure, Amy. Your story really captures the spirit – a very contagious enthusiasm! Kayaking alone is a great way of exploring the outdoors (and one of my most favourite to be honest … just watch this spot 😉 ), but you’re taking it a step farther. Finally really have to take the plunge and go for some white … wild … water. Very inspiring, indeed! Thanks for sharing this adventurous episode!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading my adventure!!!!

      Kayaking on its own is so fun, and like you said, a great way to explore! You will have to add some white water to the mix! And take some awesome pictures to share with the world!!!


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