Anna Bruno AKA Blog Nazi

April 20th, 2012 by

 

Anna, AKA our "Blog Nazi" Photo by Miles Clark.

Once a week our blog deadline roles around and we find our selves scrambling to get our blogs finish in time just to go boating. This is because Anna won’t let us boat unless we get our weekly blog done for that day. Today is not my lucky day because just as I was about to put on the water, (not having posted my blog) Anna swoops in and tells me that I have to go finish a blog before boating today.

The sad part is there really is no arguing with her because she tells you a week in advance when your blog needs to be up. We all have different days we need to have our blogs up and mine is Friday. Every friday and she never forgets. I am scrabbling right now to finish this blog before lunch so I can get a quick play session in on the New NOC wave that was put in just two days ago, and get in more training for tomorrows competition!

One day I will appreciate all the work Anna does to make our blogs happen!

Eric Bartl Jackson kayak Team Member
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Tallulaha Fest weekend with Safety on the Nantahala.

April 20th, 2012 by

The scene of Oceana from below.

This past weekend we took the students to the Tallulah Festival to run the Tallulah Gorge.  The Tallulah River is a southeast gem only running about eight times a year via dam release and even this is a big success after many years of petitioning for any release.   After a long drive from our home base in the New River Gorge, we arrived at the River Campground across the street from the festival grounds.  River Campground set us up with a bunkhouse that we were all able to live in and around for the weekend.   We were set up with a sweet fireplace to do our cooking over also equipped with a basketball net that served up some hoops.

 

Our first day into the gorge was with low water so it was a great introduction to the creek for everyone.  For those that are not familiar with this run, it starts with 538 steps; I counted four times and got this number twice so I am sticking with it.  After our step workout getting into the gorge we stuck together and as a group took a scout at the largest rapid of the day, Oceana.  This rapid drops about thirty feet over a slide about fifty feet with a “thing” that you must avoid on your right.  Although there is many lines on this rapid the most common line is down the left side.  With nearly all of the students running this drop down the left we had a Galen, Hunt, and Eric exploring some of the more challenging lines.

 

Hunt Jennings dropping into Oceana

On day two, the water was a bit higher and for safety and efficiency, we decided to split into two separate groups.  After that, we were able to communicate more effectively and run the creek without much stress.  The different levels from day one to day two allowed students to see the some rapids become easier and some are more difficult.  The rest of the run is filled with little boofs, boulder gardens, and some sweet slides.  Then to finish the run off was about a two-mile paddle across a lake, but bonus, there is a rope swing just before you get out, so after a few swings, flips, and flops we finished the paddle.  That day closed with us breaking down camp and moving on to NOC where we will remain until the NOC Shootout.

 

Wayne helping Galen with a vertical extraction

With NOC still working on the feature and Eternity hole not running this was the perfect day for some actual on water safety training.  We had used the perfect location for three common rescue situations.  We used the Cascade section of the Nantahala which gave us a boulder garden where we pinned a boat, the next drop had a cave which the students need to get a person and a boat out of, and a vertical rock wall where the students needed to get someone out that had a broken arm. The boat pin scenario focused on a z-drag, the cave focused on how to get a paddler and his boat across the river safely, and vertical extraction focused on setting an anchors making a harness and using a Muenter knot for belaying a person.  Now we are on the Nantahala River watching and training on the feature as they try to create a great feature to host this freestyle event and the world event next year.

 

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New River Academy Training For Competition at NOC

April 20th, 2012 by

New River Academy is currently at the NOC white water park in NC. They just finished fixing the hole and there will be a competition this Saturday, April 21st. The competition is called the NOC shoot out. Our head coach Craig has been helping us train for the competition.

Going for a loop. (Not at NOC)

There are a couple points that are key for a competition. First, Craig has been having us start with tricks that are easy, that we can do, and that will get points on the board. Even if you are competing against someone who is much better then you if you get some points up they could mess their ride up and give you a chance. Second, he has had us start to plan our ride. This means that we want to know in advance what tricks we are going to do in what order. That way when we get out on the wave we don’t need to think about what we will do next we already know. Third, is to know the points and tricks.

Two weeks ago, Craig gave us score sheets and told us to memorize the tricks and their point value. This way we know exactly what we will know exactly how much our rides are earning us. This last point Craig did not teach us but I think it should be first.

When you compete, compete against yourself. Do your best to have a better ride than your last. If you try and have a better ride then everyone else in your division than your are leaving it up to them whether you win or lose. If you compete against yourself then it is up to you weather you have a good ride or not. Even if you do not win the competition you could still have the best ride of your life and know that you have improved.

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The Swing!

April 19th, 2012 by

Hey everyone, it’s Drew McEachern here with another blog post for the New River Academy! last week Eric, Ziggy, and myself set out on a mission to make a creation we call “the Swing”. The Swing is a fun rope Swing with some variations to it, first, we found a tree over hanging a hill out front of our West Virginia base.

Grabbing some air off the new swing

Once we found the tree we hit up a few stores to find what we needed; we bought 100ft of rope a 2x12x8 plank of lumber and a some 1 inch piping of PVC. Once we had everything we started to put it together, we got the rope and put a double figure 8 knot with a bite on one end of the rope and tossed it over the branch we were planning to use.We then feed the other end of the rope thought the bite on the knot and pulled it thought till we had the knot at the top of the rope around the branch.

Once we had the rope up we took out lumber and made a board with a hole in the center, we put the loose end of the rope though the hole we made and tied it off. Now we had a rope with a skate board like think on the end of it, now we needed a handle. we cut some of the loose rope off the end and made a large loop of rope with a dubble fishermen knot in it,with the PVC pipeing thought it. We tossed in a few alpine butterfly knots into the ropes and carabernerb it all together, and the last addition we had was a harness for safer with some spare rope and Erics rock climbing harness’s.

We had completed the swing and started doing big tricks, its a lot of fun and i am sure we will keep enjoying the swing as long as it is up! And we got to use some of our knot skills for fun!

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Home Sweet Home | On the New River

April 17th, 2012 by

For our first week back at school we got to spend some quality time on the school’s home river. Every day for our first week we paddled the New River Gorge. It is about a twenty minute drive from our base in West Virginia so it makes for the perfect run after a long day of school. By the time you make it down the windy, mountainous road and brave the big flight of stairs down to the put in, you are definitely ready to get in the water. However, before we could get in the water we had to do a quick stretch on land and then a quick warm up in the water. This includes stretching out your shoulders and practicing backwards and forwards paddling, edge control, and basic strokes. I think all these things are great to do anytime before you set off down river.

As for the river, it was immensely different than when we ran it first quarter. The water was much higher, therefore the waves were bigger as well. They were much bigger than I had expected. The rise of the waves also brought in some fun play spots on the river that were too low the last time we were there. A fun wave came in at Upper Railroad which was a bit of a more advanced surf because it was harder to catch. You had to surf across a big hole to get there, so must of us just surfed Lower Railroad. Lower Railroad was a fun play hole that was easy for spins and loops. We spent lots of time there and the rest of the time we surfed waves of the fly. There were many other good waves and fun holes of the run.

Most days we just ran the river but sometimes there was the option to just park and play, which is staying at railroad and playing at the hole all day and then walking out at the end. I chose this option a few times to practice my playboating skills. Most people chose to run the river most of the time but one day we all had to park and play. That day we had a fun, friendly competition at lower railroad. It was super fun and everyone got to experience what it feels like to compete in a competition. We had timers, score sheets, and judges. We also separated the groups into heats. This competition experience will prepare us well for this upcoming weekend at the NOC Shootout.

The New River Gorge just above where we take out.

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Craig Kleckner AKA New River Academy’s new coach.

April 13th, 2012 by

The last quarter of school New River Academy works on mastering competitions in a hole, on a wave, or a down river race. Craig has an abundant amount of information on all types of competitions, thus making him one of the best people to have coaching at the school.

For the last few years Craig has been traveling around the the world going from competition to competition. I met Craig while traveling around Colorado going to freestyle kayaking events. When I asked Craig what he thought of New River Academy so far he replied, “ Well, its taken some getting use to but so far has been a great experience.

 

In the last week I have had the privilege of seeing Craig’s coaching in person. I’ve known Craig for a few years now, so when I heard he was going to be our coach for 4th quarter I was ecstatic. Craig has a unique style of coaching. We don’t just go paddling every day and he throws tips at us, but every day before going paddling we sit down and talk about freestyle tricks, the technique behind them, and how to throw them. Then once on the water he goes out of his way to tell every one what they can do to improve.

 

Just yesterday, Craig told me how to optimize my air on kick-flips. Craig paddles for Pyranha but I try not to hold that against him. It doesn’t seem to slow him down. Whether on or off the water, he goes out of his way to make our lives easier and more fun.

Eric Bartl Jackson kayak Team Member
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Fourth Quarter Tour: New River Academy Kayak Highschool revels in spring in the Southeast!

April 13th, 2012 by

New River Dries are in our Backyard during fourth quarter!

The running joke is, “It’s chilly!” responded by, “No, it’s not Chile, we’re in West Virginia!”  Oh the simple pleasures of life, bad humor, and migrating through the hemispheres and seasons to our final quarter of the 2011/2012 school year.

After returning to our base in Fayetteville, West Virginia, getting to run the bread and butter of the New River, and having some team members jet up to a race on the Top Yough (with a fourth place tie by Eric Bartl and Galen Volkhausen), we are heading down South to Georgia and North Carolina.

First, we hit up Tallulah Fest on the Tallulah River, an absolutely beautiful run that has very rare releases.  Tallulah is famous for its stunning scenery, good rapids, and famous rapid “Oceana,” which is a long rapid with a huge plume of water spraying up in the middle bottom known as “the thing.”

Brian Krik Throwing a Huge Loop at the NOC shootout. Photo by Errik Hill

Next, we will start focusing on the NOC Shootout, a freestyle competition on the Nantahala River in North Carolina.  This quarter, the New River Academy students have the privilege of having Criag Klekner, professional kayaker and member of Team Pyranha, as their Coach.  Craig is a master of freestyle and will lead training at Eternity Hole and at the new NOC feature as soon as it is finished.  The Shootout is a great chance for the team to compete and also to get to watch and cheer on some of the best in the whitewater world.

Alex Anderson on the Green River near our base at Camp Wayfarers in NC.

After the Shootout, we will be heading to the Green River in North Carolina, a much anticipated fourth quarter destination.  The New River Academy team will be staying at Camp Wayfarer, a summer camp with a huge covered basketball court, climbing wall, etc. that just so happens to be right next to the put in to the Green River Narrows.  The Green is a great river for the entire team, as it has different level sections for building skills.

While in the area, the school has partnered with Bliss-Stick US, Liki Faire, and Terravida Threads to host a Night of Outdoor Film, which will include the Asheville premiere of the world recognized Patagonia Rising: A frontier story of water and power as well as two of the students’ films at Asheville Brewing and Pizza Company at 9 pm on April 26thAll of the money raised at the event will go to causes that protect some of Chile’s most threatened rivers!  New River will also have a couple of students participating in the race Jerry’s Baddle, which is a combined kayak race down the Green, and bike race up the heinous uphill at the take-out, which should be awesome.

After enjoying Greening, the team will make its way back up to West Virginia, stopping for a couple of days at our homebase in Fayetteville, and then moving up to the spring gems of Northern West Virginia, including the Cheat and the Big Sandy.  The students will race in Cheat Fest, which will give them a great experience in longer distance down river racing.

It is going to be quite the quarter and will of course finale in Graduation Weekend at our West Virginia base.  We are all looking forward to seeing the families of our students for a weekend of rafting, kayaking, and a beautiful ceremony on the stunning overlook of the New River Gorge, but are certainly sad, but very proud of our seniors and entire team, what they have accomplished this year and what they will accomplish down the road!

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Gap Year Staff Profile: Lorenzo Astorga “Fairy Tale Family”

April 12th, 2012 by

For high school grads and university students is New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

Gap Year Staff Profile: Lorenzo Astorga

Video below was directed by gap year video instructor and coach Tino Specht.  Tino creates the profile of Lorenzo Andrade Astorga in a way that tells the family story of what the Rio Maipo means to so many.

Lorenzo Andrade Astorga plays his kenna. It's become New River tradition to employ someone from the culturally rich Astorga family to teach Spanish and share their cultural heritage.

The Patagonia Gap Year employment goal is to hire outstanding leaders that are likable and respected by students, are safe, can lead, and to teach on a high-academic level.

Let’s meet the Astorga-Moreno Family

Once upon a time legend has it that the great, great, (great to the quadratic) grandfather was a successful minor of silver in the Maipo Valley buying over 10,000 acres of mountain land.  The Astorgas like many Chilean families were grand in size but while other families sold their lands the Astorgas chose a different path.  The Astorga family values instead established protection systems to keep their family heritage.  Today, that land has been repositioned as Chile’s largest and oldest eco-tourism company, Cascadas de las Animas.

Astorgas and Government Conflict

  • 1970’s Agusto Pinochet Threat- The Astorgas fled their homeland as the Pinochet administration tortured, killed and threatened lives of many prosperous non-administration supporters.  The family would return to their land some 10 years later.  Gappers will visit a Pinochet concentration camp and interview the Astorga family about this part of Chilean history.
  • 1980’s Government Oil Pipe from Argentina- This time the government planned a pipeline near to the Maipo Valley road traveling east over the Andes.  The Astorga land would have to be crossed.  During local protests Chilean police became physically aggressive and military made advances on the Astorga family land.  The Astorgas won public support (as the underdog threatened by government) and preserved their land.
  • Today, a Rio Maipo hydropower plan would divert the river’s flow into a penstock tube.  We hope the family winning tradition continues.

Fairy Tale Walk to Lorenzo’s Home

The family business, Cascadas de las Animas, is a modern day fairy tale. A large family sticking together to protect their heritage creates South America's largest eco-tourism company.

After driving east from Santiago through the arid Andes region into the Maipo Valley you begin to notice unique architecture within restaurants, houses, and hotels.  The Gaudi style structures would fit perfectly into a Star Wars Ewok or Lord of the Rings Hobbiton Village.  Giant wooden columns, polished curves no corners to be found, stained glass, geodesic domes, outdoor couch-style beds, master forged blacksmith work, waterfalls and treetop canopy tours are routine structures that focus on detail.  It’s the artistic work of Lorenzo’s father Sergio Andrade Huber, aka Taller Pangal.

 

A locked bridge swings over the class IV rapids of the Rio Maipo lying at the trough of hundreds of feet of canyon walls.  Cross the bridge, pass the bird preservation hawk cage, pass the rehabilitated mountain lion, family llama, walk under the grape vines and begin passing the homes of aunts and uncles.  This is Astorga landia.  Pass the horse stables and you’ll find yourself walking a dusty trail uphill with a mountain stream irrigation trench.  After hiking 1/3 mile uphill where there is no road for vehicle you arrive to the home of Lorenzo Andrade Astorga.

The home is built longitudinally on a mountain terrace surrounding two giant boulders.  When people ask how they got everything up the hill they joke, “The (10’ high) boulder was the hardest to carry…”  The view up and down the valley is as spectacular as the architecture of this home masterpiece.  Years ago I dreamt of importing Sergio’s art to the US.  I was lucky enough to be able to contract him to build part of the Pucon Kayak Hostel.

Astorga Family Tradition

Lorenzo slides Pucon's whitewater favorite on Rio Nevado. This could be you this October.

Lorenzo’s Mother nicknamed Gordita leads multi-day horseback expeditions into Argentina.  Thin and fit in her 50’s she is most often seen wearing a leather vest and riding chaps perfectly polished by the rough Andes elements.  A worn cap with feather and copper belt buckle.  She’s the epitome of Chilean badass and constantly instills in her children the value of protecting the land.  Each family member plays an active role within the family business in some way working and earning their livelihood within a company known for creating jobs.

Lorenzo is the fourth of five Astorgas contracted by New River Academy.  Brother Sebastian, the MBA, first was a chofer and later hired to teach Spanish in New Zealand.  Brother Roberto, the attorney, has completed logistics and legal contracts.  Father Sergio was employed to construct the school’s trailer and vehicle racks.  And cousin Carla, the documentary producer, is our current Spanish and video teacher.

Meet Lorenzo Andrade Astorga

So, you can see that Lorenzo has a rich cultural background and it is for this reason he was originally employed by New River Academy’s Patagonia Gap Year.  Lorenzo studied education and eco-tourism and applies his knowledge to teaching gap year students Spanish, logistics and leadership skills, and safety on the river.  I first noted Lorenzo’s exceptional teaching style when he organized a gapper class puppet production of “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Lorenzo has a leather belt holster to hold his kenna, unique flute, and he is adorned with scarf and typical Astorga gypsy pants and shirt.  When he’s not guiding a trip he’s practicing race lines on the Yesso oro Upper Maipo.  But not just in his kayak.  The Astorga cousins were the fifth fastest rafting team in the Raft World Championships, even beating the USA.  Too bad they can’t beat the USA in soccer.

Practicing rafting and kayak lines seems to keep the adrenalin packed men charging in between work contracts.

What does this mean to applying gap year students?  It means your going to have the kayaking trip and cultural experience of your life.

For high school grads and university students is New River’s favorite program… Patagonia Gap Year.

Dates: October 18 to December 20, for more info email NewRiverGap@gmail.com.

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Kayak School Field Trip to the Isaac Ludwig Top Yough Race

April 12th, 2012 by

Two days after our return to NRA, a few of us had the option to drive to Western PA/Maryland for the Isaac Ludwig Top Yough race. Isaac was a local paddler in the Yough area who died a few years ago while kayaking. The 1st Annual Isaac Ludwig Memorial Race occurred at the Top Yough in April of 2009. The race website states that the goal of the race ” this year and for years to come is to remember Isaac by holding an event that he would have delighted in.”

Along with three other students that wished to race the Top Yough we headed out early Saturday. Stopping to pick up New River Graduate  Nick Simpson, with a full car, we headed to the Yough. We did the run twice and did our best to learn the lines. The run starts off with a 45 foot slide and continues with a very south east creek style. Boulder gardens, tight little slots, small boofs, tight turnes, and low water. That night we camped out at a campground and made a huge fire and some bangen turkey burgers. A 10 dollar entry fee at registration got us in for the race and we got a scull cap for winter paddling.

As in most kayaking events the race started late and we had plenty of time to hang out and talk with people at the put in. Long boats went first followed by short boats. My run went well:  focusing on nothing but the run ahead of me I gave it my all. It is a 10 minute race at the fastest time.

Meeting at the bottom I got to watch an epic swim over the finish line which was by far the most stout thing that happened over the weekend. After attending the ceremony at the end they threw out T shirts and gave cash prized to the winners. Eric Bartl and I tied for 4th place in short boats with a time of 12 minutes and 44 seconds. This trip is one of the most fun things that I have done with the school and would love to do it again! Thanks very much to Chris Smith for driving and organizing it and thanks to our new coach Craig for coming along.

For more information on the race go to

http://topyoughrace.com/index.html

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Coach’s Report with Craig Kleckner, Team Pyranha

April 11th, 2012 by

New River Academy's new coach for fourth quarter is Craig Kleckner from team Pyranha.

Today is our first day off the water or day of rest.  I will start from day one and work my way back to today.  First day back to school was Thursday April 5, 2012, we did not have morning workout due to everyone’s day of travel.  Our day on the water consisted of a group paddle down the New River Gorge, focusing on warming up, getting comfortable in your boat, and learning the run that we would be using for the next few days.

The next day after our morning workout run, Chris and I took four students, Galen, Drew, Eric, and Paul, north to the Top Yough Race.  On Friday, we ran the top section of the Youghiogheny River in MD, focusing on reading the rapids to find the fastest race lines.  We did two laps on the river that day and the second lap was dedicated to trying out some of those race lines and become more familiar with the run.  The next day, Saturday, was race day and we started the day with a stretch right by the first drop.  We all discussed our lines wished each other luck and all had good lines during the race.  Galen and Eric tied for forth and the rest were not far behind.  The Top Yough is a great run with a fun slide to start and a bunch of cool little boofs along your way down this two and a half mile run. To finish the day we packed up the van and headed back down to Fayetteville for some dinner and a good nights rest.

 

Then on Easter Sunday, we played some ultimate Frisbee for a morning work out, later played disk golf while doing an egg hunt.  Then after lunch, we headed back into the New River Gorge for some freestyle action.  Today we focused on preparation for a freestyle contest.  I had the students focusing on what they can do within their time limit and what they can do on the given feature.   Lower Railroad is the feature that we held the contest on and it is a short hike back to the vehicle making it a great place to hold an event.  After a good practice session, the students split into two groups on that would finish the river run and the other would stay and get more time on that feature.

 

The following day after a morning workout involving different stations that would build core and leg muscles the group would head down to Lower Railroad to participate in the freestyle event.  The event was set up the same as contests are step up in the freestyle circuit.  The students were to focus on achieving the maximum amount of points within the allotted time on that given feature.  We were unable to hold the finals due to time constraints but everyone paddled really well.

 

Now today after five days of hard paddling the group earned a day off the water for some muscle healing and reflection on their performance of the previous day.  Safety will be the focus for the next day of on the water training focusing on the Hand of God technique, where a kayaker is able upright a capsized kayaker without their assistance.

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New River Academy
Rt. 2 Box 245
Fayetteville, WV 25484
(304)- 574-0403
Fax: (304) 513-2247
New River Academy

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