Video | The Rugged Side of River SUP | Nolichucky Gorge

We’re usually exposed to only the prettiest pictures of whitewater SUP on social media—snapshots of stunningly stuck runs or beautifully boofed drops picturing paddlers standing strong and glorious amid ferocious rapids. We’re here to tell you that those pretty pictures are a lie. The reality of the river is messy—tons of swimming, struggling to stay afloat, bruises from boulders and awkward approaches. Stuck runs are a rare anomaly in most cases and everyone ends up swimming at some point. That’s why we’re stoked to share this indiscriminate look at the whitewater SUP experience, a true view of the glory and grit involved in running rapids on the Nolichucky Gorge.

We’ll also take this opportunity to remind the community that while everyone has a different idea of safety on the river, it all comes down to common sense. The great debate on river SUP safety gear aside, staying safe is a result of skill, comfort and preparation. Just as in the surf zone, know before you go, and don’t go unless you’re 100% certain you can hang.

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