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On the French Broad with BRX

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“It’s not always necessary to be strong, but to feel strong.”

This partial quote from Into the Wild stirs the feeling of what it is to be out on adventures with Blue Ridge Expeditions. Many moments of learning and attaining new skill sets for life in the backcountry are combined with the notion of openly living in the present, throughout the duration of the journey. On BRX, “river days” means getting hype for whitewater canoeing while paying attention to all the details our trip leaders have to explain. With the know-how and the confidence to put forth new skills in real-world situations, our BRXers find out what it means to “shoot the rapids.” Most recently, our first BRX session of the summer paddled through section 10 of the French Broad River and the experience was absolutely epic.

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We set in with a baking sun and scattered clouds. After the first set of decent waves, the sky went from ultramarine to just plain dark grey. Bull frogs started croaking, thinking night was on the rise. High winds began to ripple the surface water across the river, seemingly blowing the water backwards, at times. Torrential rain quickly turned to hail, while flashes of lighting and the vibrations of thunder shook through to our bones. Needless to say, we paddled over to a safe shoreline ASAP and weathered what was only a passing storm. The best part of the entire day what when we all gathered together on the riverside to stay warm, only to end up singing and laughing while pea-sized hail rapped on our helmets.

Story and photos by Brandon S. Marshall