Name: Samantha Brunner
Hometown: Memphis, Tn Currently Resides in: Memphis, Tn
Work: Student at the University of Memphis and a physical therapy tech
Years Paddling: 4
Top 3 Rivers: Oh Be Joyful Creek, Daisy Creek, and the Cascades of the Nantahala The Perfect Vacation is: Spending more time creeking in Colorado Hobbies other than kayaking: photography, snowboarding, working (I love my job), and surviving school Favorite website: the Jackson Kayak site (http://jacksonkayak.com/)
Recent playlist on my MP3 player: haha, I haven't updated from my portable cd player yet…
Best day of paddling ever: it's so hard to choose… maybe my first day to huck Big Wood Falls on Daisy Creek
Sponsors: Stohlquist Waterware, Kavu Clothing, Fortress Watches, Keen Footwear, Gaia Paddlesports, Snapdragon Designs, and (of course) CKS
Anything else: I paddle in waterproof mascara!
Samantha's Top 5 Gear Picks:
Stohlquist Kitty, Jackson Star, Stohlquist Wet Dry Gross bag, NRS Kayak Pin Kit, Snapdragon Armortex Skirt (size: XXS!)
As a new member of the CKS Squad I was asked to write about my top three of last paddling season, I decided to write about my top three days on the river. I know this may sound quite cheesy, but there are so many river days that stand out to me that it is a little hard to choose from. It just so happens that two of my top three are from Colorado…
One of my most favorite river days had to definitely be on Oh Be Joyful. It was the first place that Boyd and I visited when we went to Colorado this year. Being my first time to ever paddle in Colorado, OBJ was a pretty intimidating run! It took me four times hiking up that wonderful mountain (we didn’t have 4 wheel drive) to finally get up the nerve to run it! I had so much fun once I ran it; when I was at the bottom of the waterfall section I could not believe that I had been so nervous. It is definitely my most favorite run ever! All of the drops completely rock, even though I ran one or two of them backwards. Oh Be Joyful taught me that even though the river may look intimidating, if you think you can do it then you should try.
Another top paddling day was at the hole in Salida, CO. Until then, I was completely terrified of holes! The Salida hole is perfect, and surprisingly friendly for its size. Working in the hole, along with some great friends, I was able to get over my fear of holes. I hopped in that hole and tried whatever I could in it. It helped me learn my cartwheels and I began to learn my loops. I was able to come back to the Southeast and hop into holes that I wouldn’t have dared to try the season before. Also, the holes surprisingly didn’t look as big either, go figure.
The lesson I learned at Oh Be Joyful got me through another one of my top three paddling days: Upper Big Creek, NC. Just like Oh Be Joyful, it took two visits to get on Upper Big Creek. It is the epitome of a Smokies style run. I had run Lower Big Creek before and had a blast, so now it was time for me to hop on the Upper. I took pictures of the guys that ran Action Alley, the hardest rapid on the run, and then put in just below it. I only had a slight idea of what to expect, and I was completely blown away! It was so continuous and full of boulders, but I think my most favorite part of the run was the technicality.
There have been a few runs last season that have stood out to me, and have even made me quite nervous. One of the things I love most about the river is that it teaches me and I grow with each run. With the days that I just shared with you, I was able to overcome the apprehension that I had before I put on, and that’s what puts them in my top three.