“It’s raining! It’s raining!” Working in a kayak outfitter shop, you quickly learn that spring rains inspire more excitement than a Justin Timberlake sighting at the mall. So when the first rains of early March blew through, Western North Carolina was a buzz with activity. And for once I too got in on the excitement when I was pleasantly surprised by an early morning phone call, “Wilson’s is running. Get your stuff.” So with Wave Sports’ new Habitat in hand, I headed east into Pisgah National Forest. Having paddled the Habitat on the big water of Ecuador’s Quijos and Jatunyacu rivers this winter, I was already aware of the comfort and stability the new Wave Sport creek boat had to offer. However, the realization that this was going to be the steepest run I had ever done sent the butterflies fluttering in my stomach as we drove up the dirt road along Wilson’s creek towards the put-in. Being road side and only a couple of miles long, multiple runs were a must especially when the forgiving water level and clear blue sky attract a multitude of paddlers to help with shuttle. And a nice even water level of zero made for great slides and soft drops without being ultra pushy as I navigated my way down. Making our way down through the maze of boulders and down over the first slide, almost immediately I was surprised to discover how responsive the Habitat was to simply shifting of my hips onto the edges. This allowed me to whip into the multitude of eddies lurking between the mess of boulders with minimal effort, let’s face it kayakers are lazy and the less energy we have to burn the better.
Weaving our way through the rocks, the Habitat picked up speed, rocketing me over the drops, down the slides, punching through the curling waves that broke over the bow in an effort to throw me off balance. With little effort on my part the Habitat accelerated with such force, I barely had time to take in the sun beaming down on granite slabs that jut out from the banks.
The Habitat’s responsiveness and stability allowed me to focus on my technique as I began to discover the essential creeking moves while still offering me a stable foundation in every feature from eddy lines, to slides, to small drops. This combined with its speed helped to create an ideal intro to creek boating experience that left me itching for the next rain and excuse to pull out a Habitat; an excuse which came none too soon as I am headed out the door to paddle Cheoah now!