Updated: Mar 2, 2022
It’s hard to believe that this is our fifth year bringing outdoor education and activities to the region since our start in 2018. Over that time we’ve seen ourselves grow each year, doubling in size again in 2021 and seeing an increasing number of our guests come from ever greater distances to make a visit with us the center of their travels. We love being part of the collective effort to showcase the many wonders of Northeast Tennessee while providing folks with outdoor education that is fun, safe and impactful.
2022 is shaping up to be our best year yet with approximately 50 different types of classes and 140+ unique events scheduled! These cover the gamut of outdoor activities, or disciplines, including kayaking (whitewater and flatwater), whitewater canoeing, wilderness survival & navigation, wilderness first aid & CPR, water safety & rescue, backpacking & camping, and conservation. We have an outstanding team of instructors lined up who are all equally committed to making sure you not only learn new skills but have an exceptional experience in the process. Our class and instructor ratings are consistently top mark reflecting just how invested they are in your success. To see some of the wonderful comments left by our guests click here.
What to expect in 2022:
Kayaking – One of our most popular disciplines, our core kayak classes are returning including beginner level whitewater classes (1 and 2 day), intermediate/advanced whitewater classes and flatwater kayak classes on the lake. Our novice whitewater kayak classes are also returning after feedback from our students indicated there was a gap in training for paddlers who are beyond the beginner stage but not quite ready for class 3. Our 3-day whitewater kayak immersive classes are also coming back, an increasingly popular option for those who want to take their training to the next level and that several consecutive days on the river does such a good job of accommodating. We’re also continuing with our newer whitewater kayak creeking transitional class for those who are interested in learning this sub-discipline on a standard class 3 river first before committing to a true creek. This class is also a good option for any class 3/3+ boater who wants to hone their boat control to a razor’s edge. We have several class 2/3 and class 3/4 Spring Tune-Ups in the next couple months that are quickly booking up and are aimed at helping paddlers shake off the winter cold and quickly return to good form.
One of our staples, the Flatwater Kayak Fun Day, is returning with many dates scheduled throughout the warmer months. It's tough to beat a good day paddling on beautiful Watauga Lake with a lunch stop on an island to take in the scenery. Our Kayak Overnight Adventure is coming back for its second year after great success launching it last summer. And we have a special treat coming in the fall of 2022 – a destination multi-day kayak trip on the Suwannee River in Florida! More to come on this in the coming months. Whitewater instructors Ryan Shealy, Brad Eldridge, Jess Christian and Scott Fisher all carry ACA certification and are ready to help you achieve your goals. Deb Briscoe returns as our lead flatwater kayak instructor and you won’t find a more enthusiastic advocate for the joys of paddling.
Canoeing – Our numerous whitewater canoe offerings are returning including beginner, novice and intermediate level classes. Also returning is the whitewater canoe creeking transitional. Similar to the kayak creeking transitional, this class is a great option for those who are interested in learning this sub-discipline on a standard class 3 river first before committing to a true creek. This class is also a good option for any class 3 open boater who wants to hone their boat control to a razor’s edge. If you’ve never tried the art of the single blade, or have and want to take your skills up a notch, join one of our canoe instructors for some fun and productive time on the water. Whitewater canoe instruction is hard to find and lead ACA certified instructor Viki Austin is as good as they come.
Water Safety & Rescue – Our core water safety and rescue classes are returning, including swiftwater rescue, flatwater safety & rescue and water safety for kids. We are also offering an L3 River Safey & Rescue Instructor Certification Class L3 Instructor Certification Class on May 7-9 for those interested in teaching others how to be safe on the water. Our swiftwater rescue classes tend to fill quickly so we recommend booking early if your work or play takes you on or around moving water - these are skills you’ll want to have. Our swiftwater classes are led by ACA L5 IT Scott Fisher and our flatwater rescue classes are led by ACA L3 River Safety & Rescue instructor Deb Briscoe.
Wilderness Medicine – Wilderness First Aid and CPR remain two of our most in-demand classes and to accommodate that we have added two additional instructors and have five dates on the calendar this year. We strongly encourage anyone who spends time in the outdoors to take this training and recertify every two years. This is training you’ll want to have if and when you need it. Successful completion comes with two-year certification through ASHI, one of the leading credentialing bodies in the country. Our first WFA and CPR classes of the season are coming up March 12-13 and there are just a few spots left. Our primary instructors are former EMT/current PA Robin Pope and former firefighter/first responder Jerry Smith. Both are outstanding and carry instructor certification through ASHI.
Wilderness Survival & Navigation – Our wilderness survival and navigation classes have steadily grown over the last several years to become some of our most popular. Our one- and two-day survival classes are held at our rustic camp on aptly named Survival Island, located right off our outpost in our namesake, the beautiful Nolichucky River. These classes focus on surviving the first 72 hours after an accident/emergency and cover such skills as shelter building, knot tying, fire making, knife craftsmanship, water procurement, signaling and aidless navigation. These skills are not only hugely empowering in the wilderness they are also fun to learn and practice. Our first two-day survival class is this weekend, Mar 5-6, and we still have a few spots left. Our one- and two-day wilderness navigation (aka map & compass) classes are some of the most comprehensive you will find. Using these tools and techniques takes practice and there is simply no substitute to learning good fundamentals and then spending time in the wilderness practicing these skills. Lead instructor is former Army Ranger-qualified infantry officer Scott Fisher who has over 30 years’ experience with these wilderness skills.
Hiking & Camping – The majority of our hiking and camping classes are returning this year, including Backpacking 101, Hammock Hanging and Dutch Oven Cooking. Also returning are our hugely popular free guided hikes to the many great trails in the region. These hikes are capped at 10 to minimize our footprint so we recommend booking early (registering is required). Our first hike of the year is this Sat and takes us to Rock Creek Falls in Unicoi, TN and registration is still open. We are also pleased to enter into our second year offering the Backpacking Overnight Adventure (BOA). This is an excellent opportunity for those who are new to backpacking and looking for a supportive environment to venture out for the first time as well as experienced hikers who want to learn new tips and tricks or just enjoy the companionship of a small-group adventure. Key gear, such as backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad, is provided. Our hiking and camping instructors include AT thru-hiker Minta “Blueberry” Ray, Debbie Briscoe and new addition to the team Rob Schoborg.
Conservation & Stewardship – We remain committed to protecting the areas in which we live and play and, towards that end, will continue to offer our Leave No Trace classes and other conservation-related events to help raise awareness of our role in the broader ecosystem and how we can all be responsible stewards of our planet. Our free Leave No Trace Awareness Workshops serve as the core of this education and, in addition to our scheduled classes, we can come to schools and other groups by request.
Outdoor Arts – We are looking at two possible additions this year: Writing in Nature and Outdoor Photography. Stay tuned!
Wishing you all the best in the year to come and we’ll see you outdoors!
Your Friends at NOLI