Bryson City paddler to appear in Olympic semifinals

Bryson City Olympian Evy Leibfarth, 17, will advance to the semifinal women’s kayak slalom competition following her performance in the qualifying rounds Sunday, July 25.

Life, dreams, canoes and rivers

One fond childhood memory involves a yellow fiberglass canoe and the Yadkin River. My dad, one of my younger brothers, and I took to those waters several times, and when I was a teenager, my brother, a friend, and I made several overnight trips without adult supervision, camping on islands, cooking over an open fire, and pushing off again the next day.

Dreams on the water: Bryson City paddler, age 15, wows international audience

On Friday, June 21, a 15-year-old girl from Bryson City took her place in the water for the first heat of her first run as an adult competitor on the international circuit. The roiling World Cup course in Bratislava, Slovakia, was thousands of miles away from her home in Western North Carolina, and her competitors were veteran paddlers, some with Olympic appearances and even Olympic medals to their name. 

Kids in Parks logs one million TRACK Trails adventures

In its mission to engage children with the outdoors, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s Kids in Parks program is marking a powerful milestone; kids and families have completed one million adventures through the program’s TRACK Trails. This figure represents more than one million miles hiked, biked or paddled, and more than 500,000 hours spent outside.

Telling NOC’s story: Book shows early years of outdoor center through the eyes of staff, leaders

It was 1972, and the world of whitewater paddling was changing. Americans were just about a decade into experimenting with kayaks and it had been only three years since the first whitewater race in the South and the passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That year’s Summer Olympic Games in Munich would be the first to include whitewater paddling among its events.

Amid all of this, Horace Holden, Payson Kennedy and Aurelia Kennedy decided to start a new rafting business in Swain County, to be called the Nantahala Outdoor Center. 

Learn to paddle at NOC youth camp

For 15 years Nantahala Outdoor Center instructors have been teaching kids and teens how to maneuver the waters of Western North Carolina during its summer camp programs. 

Earning her place: Bryson City whitewater hall of famer reflects on lifetime on the water

Bunny Johns became a paddler mostly by accident.

As a college freshman in the early 1960s, she’d lined up a summer job in her hometown outside of Atlanta but returned to discover the position had fallen through. Then a friend of hers called to say she’d been offered a job teaching swimming at Camp Merrie-Woode in Sapphire but didn’t want to go — maybe Johns, who had been a competitive swimmer in high school, would want to take her place?

Back to the water: Friends, family remember Bryson City Olympian

Adam Clawson of Bryson City spent some of his best days on the water. At 8 years old, he tied a rope around the middle of an old inner tube to fashion a canoe, and with a borrowed paddle, learned to maneuver the rapids of the Nantahala River.

Down by the water: Waynesville Rec gets busy with $25,000 worth of paddling equipment

out fr“I’m gonna mark the spot with an X, right here,” says Tim Petrea, program supervisor for the Waynesville Parks and Recreation Department, tracing his kayak paddle through the water. “That’s a good spot.”

Katie Durbin, 8, maneuvers her stand up paddleboard over to the place Petrea’s indicated.

Downward row: NOC guide canoes to world record waterfall run

out frIt wasn’t until Brad McMillan got his canoe on the water that the moment hit him. He’d been preparing for this for a long time, both mentally and physically, and he’d just watched his three friends in kayaks descend the falls before him. But once in the water, he struggled to keep the calm of that preparation. Nothing makes the idea of running a 70-foot-high waterfall more concrete than, well, pushing off to run a 70-foot-high waterfall. 

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