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Here is a copy of the parent updates that parents received every 3-5 days throughout the trip. In addition, we also send out several pictures and social media post with additional updates.
Monday the zip lines were a welcome break from the drive. They arrived just after lunch to zip and everyone was all smiles and excited. Everyone had such a great time and would have stayed all day if they could. Afterwards we headed over to the Nolichucky River and picked up pizza on the way to a cabin on the river. After dinner they hung out next to the river and enjoyed a nice campfire to officially kick of the trip!
Tuesday the spent the day hanging out with some special needs teens picnicking above the dam and rafting on the Watauga River. The Watauga River is a dam released class I-II rafting trip that starts at the bottom of the dam. We got there before the water started flowing so it is always neat to see river rise as the dam opens up. The water is a little chilly as it comes from the bottom of the dam but the water it is also crystal clear! Even though the river is not super wild everyone had fun swimming, playing games, and they enjoyed spending time giving back to the community. Afterwards they headed up to a bald spot of the mountain where they could see for miles and look down on Erwin, TN before building another campfire near the river.
After two nights in the cabin today they will start the EPIC Clinic and get ready for their first backpacking trip. During the EPIC Clinic we go teach everyone the knots they will need, how to build tarp shelters, how to use the stoves, water filtration, proper packing strategies, backcountry safety, hygiene, and Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics. After lunch campers get to put all that info to work as they start a 2 night backpacking trip out to the rim of the Nolichucky River Gorge where they will camp 2000’ above some of the rapids they will get to raft later in the week on the first night. The next night they will hike back to the bald spot the checked out Tuesday night and camp out. This will be everyone’s first real chance to push themselves and we don’t see anything that should stop any of them!
That about sums up everything for now and we are going to try to get you some pictures up by the end of the week once they get back from the backpacking trip. Thanks for being patient and we will keep you guys updated as much as possible.
Campers made it through their first backpack trip and had a great time. EVERYONE DID GREAT! They started off Wednesday morning by going through the EPIC Clinic learning how to build tents, work with the backpacking stoves, tie knots, and pack their packs. After lunch they hit the trail and hiked about 4.5 miles down to the rim of the Nolichucky River Gorge where they set up camp. The hike was mostly downhill following some old logging roads and creeks before opening up to a clearing along the rim where they could look down about 2,000’ and see some of the class IV rapids they will get to raft down on Sunday. They made it into camp early enough to build another camp fire where they celebrated the day’s accomplishments under the stars. This was also their first chance to build a tarp shelter and they nailed it! Thursday was a little bit tougher as most of the trail was uphill and they had to hike about 6 miles! They really pushed themselves and did great! Everyone was in great spirits when they made it to the mountain top. Their first backpacking trip was a success and everyone felt accomplished!
Friday they spent the day caving through 3.5 miles of a wild cave where they got to scramble up and down muddy rocks, crawl through a narrow passageway, and hike down an underground stream in complete darkness. Without their headlamps they literally could not see their hand in front of their face! At the end of the day they were MUDDY! Afterwards they headed back into town where they cleaned up, did laundry, and picked up some bratwurst to cook for dinner.
Saturday morning they hiked about 1.5 miles to another overlook where they could see the river below. After lunch they paddled down the lower Nolichucky on “bellyaks” and “ducks.” Bellyaks are like long body boards made for rivers, and ducks are small inflatable kayaks. Everyone had a great time but they were definitely tired at the end of the day.
Sunday they will spend their final day on the Nolichucky River rafting down the upper section. Many seasoned rafters consider this the best section of river in the Southeast. This class III-IV whitewater river winds its way nine miles through the second deepest river gorge on the East Coast. The water levels are prefect for the campers to take ducks so they will get to put their rafting skills to the test! Campers always love the ducks! I think they like being in charge.
Monday they will start the second part of their service hours by working with a local conservation group to help clean a local river and to remove invasive species from the streams. We have added some pictures and are working to get some more. Thanks again for being patient, and we will continue working to keep everyone updated.
Happy Friday, everyone! We hope everyone has been having as much fun as we’ve been having. Campers are still doing great and having a great time! Monday and Tuesday were spent hiking up to the top of Mount Mitchell. This is the highest peak east of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak on the East Coast. The hike was pretty tough but everyone made it and enjoyed the amazing views as well as the cooler temperatures from 6,699 feet.
Wednesday and Thursday kicked off the 2nd and final part of our service work. We met up with a local conservation group, River Link, who set up a day to remove invasive plant species from the French Broad Watershed and arranged for us to canoe down a section of the French Broad River to pick up trash. I think campers were surprised to find out how much trash you can find when you actively look for it. This was our first year to offer service hours and we think it was a HUGE success! Spending the day rafting with special needs teens was rewarding and working with River Link was very educational. Overall fun was had by all completing 18 hours of service work, and we can’t wait to do it again.
Today the campers will start their big day backpacking trip! To begin the trip they will hike in and set up camp near the base of the climbing site where they will meet up with their rock climbing guide. After rock climbing they will spend the next 4 days hiking about 25 miles before finishing up on next Tuesday morning.
Overall the group is doing well and everyone has settled in as they have found their place among the group:
- Thomas is always positive and a great motivator for the group. He really liked the caving.
- Kaleb is such a hard worker and is always finding something that needs to be done. He loved the zip lines and caving.
- Collin, our seasoned camper (his 7th trip) is our expert / Jr. Guide who has all of the answers. He enjoys the rafting.
- Hayden is always relaxed and loves everyone and everything! He had a blast on the bell yaks.
- Nate is the hard working and jolly guy who is always in good spirits. He had a great time paddling the ducks and caving.
- Samson just likes everything and is super helpful. He loves the outdoors but mainly appreciates the comradery with the group!
- Jun is our group comedian and prankster! He liked the zip lines and rafting
- Sunny is full of coolness and confidence who is willing to lend a hand when needed. He had a blast on the belly yaks.
We are having trouble getting more photos right now, but as soon as we get some we will be sure to get them to you. Thanks again for trusting us with you loved one.
Hope everyone is getting ready for a great 4th of July weekend and excited to see their campers on Sunday! We have had a great time with all of the campers and can’t believe that the trip is almost over! We really have enjoyed this group and can’t thank everyone enough for not only supporting EPIC Adventures but for supporting your teen!
The backpacking trip went great and everyone had a great time. On the first day they hiked in to a rock climbing spot where they spent the day climbing. After rock climbing they camped at a nearby hiking shelter along the trail on the first night. From there they hiked uphill most of the way for the next 2 days before camping atop of the mountain. On the 4th day they spent the last night on the trail about a mile from the van near the confluence of two mountain streams and some cool waterfalls. All in all they did great on the trail and we were very proud of everyone for pushing themselves and making it to the top. The total backpacking trip was about 26 miles bringing the trail mileage up to 43 total spread out across three separate hikes! They had planned to celebrate by stopping at a pizza buffet but it was closed. Their 2nd choice was a Chinese buffet and they LOVED IT!
Once their stomachs were full they drove about 2 hours down to the Nantahala River Gorge where they have been camping since Tuesday night. On Wednesday they spent the day taking duckies down the Nantahala River and today they will be spending the day on SUPs (Stand Up Paddle Boards) exploring Fontana Lake near the Southern boundary of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park!
Friday they will be whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River near Chattanooga TN. This river is action packed and full of big splashes. This is also where the whitewater events were held during the 1996 Olympic Games! Saturday they will spend the day getting ready to head home before they have their EPIC Banquet and one last campfire!
We should be back in Dallas around 11 AM and back in Austin about 2 PM. We will be returning to the same place where the campers were dropped off. If you are going to be running late, please let us know.
Five short days ago, the campers headed out for their backpacking and rock climbing trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Following a short hike in on the first day, they were able to rock climb and rappell; all of the campers had a great time and were able to make it to the top before the rain came. The next two days were spent hiking 18 miles to the top of the mountain where they enjoyed 360 degree views from 6,000 feet up. After spending a night at the top, the campers started down the other side of the mountain where they were able to take a North Carolina mountain bath in one of the many waterfalls along the trail. Today they will make it back to the van where they will head into town for a celebratory lunch on their way down to the Ocoee River for even more whitewater fun!
We have some catching up to do! Congratulations to the Ultimate Arkansas Teen Campers for making it through an awesome 14 day trip. The Kayak trip was a success and the campers did great paddling 30+ miles in record time. To celebrate the campers voted to stop at the Western Sizzlin for a well-deserved 100 item buffet. I think they tried all 100 items! Before heading home the campers also voted to skip the river tubing in lieue of a gem mine they found along the way. After a successful day of mining and packing everyone went home to tell their stories of adventure. We would like to say THANK YOU to all of the campers who made the trip and look forward to seeing you all again sooner rather than later.
We would also like to say welcome to the Blue Ridge Expedition Teen Campers. The campers have had a great time since they made it to the mountains. The first night in the mountains the campers were glad they brought their warm gear. Temperatures have been ranging from the upper 40’s to mid 70’s, perfect for camping! The campers have been rafting on the Pigeon, French Broad, and Nolichucky Rivers. In between they found themselves crawling and climbing underground through one of East Tennessee’s longest caves. They have experienced a little rain and have not let that slow them down. A true river runner welcomes the rain and looks forward to those big water days that follow. The timing could not have been better for a Nolichucky Gorge River trip today. The second deepest river gorge on the east coast makes for an great trip on an average day but the extra rain brought the river up to above average levels. Today was the perfect day to be on the river and they had an AWESOME river trip! Tomorrow they will pack up and head out for their backpacking and climbing trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the way they will pass several waterfalls, mountain streams, springs, and BIG views before ending at a huge natural waterslide. The group is in good spirits and looking forward to the backpacking trip.
We have received several request for pictures and we have not forgotten about you! We are still digging through all of the photos and videos trying to get them organized and uploaded. Once they are ready we will make sure you are the first to know! We can’t wait for everyone to see how much fun our teen campers had. Thank you for your continued patience.
-Team EPIC –
What a trip the Ultimate Arkansas teens are having! Following their backpacking trip the campers spent a day cleaning up, doing laundry, and going out to eat on their way to explore a cave in the Ozarks mountains. The cave trip was EPIC! Normally we spend about four hours in the cave crawling, climbing, and getting muddy. However, the trip was going so well that we decided to spend seven hours in the cave! Both the backpacking and cave trip have pushed the campers out of their comfort zones and allowed them to enjoy a real sense of accomplishment. Everyone is still having fun and were all smiles when they began their four day three night kayak river trip. Tomorrow the campers will end their river trip and start to head back towards home. But before they head home they will make another stop to celebrate their accomplishments while relaxing and tubing down a mountain stream. I know they will be happy to see all of their friends and family on Friday.
We would also like to say a BIG THANK YOU to the Discover Kayak campers who have already left and made it home. I am sure they had some great stories to tell everyone when they got home and we hope to see them again next year. We will try and get some more pictures up before the end of the summer for everyone to see.
The Ultimate Arkansas Campers are finishing up their backpacking trip today where they will end at a huge waterfall so they can swim and get cleaned up before heading back into civilization. After four nights and five days on the trail the campers have plenty of stories to tell when they get home. The first part of the trip was pretty tough for everyone with the climb, so we decided to take a day of rest and spent one day camping in the valley by a creek so everyone could rest up and get ready for the rest of the trip. Following the day of rest the campers made their way down to the river where the afternoon was spent exploring swimming holes and natural slides near the riverside camp site. Following their waterfall bath they are going to head to town for lunch, laundry, and ice water! Tomorrow starts caving and then on to the river for the multi-day river trip!
Discover Kayakers are still doing well and are currently on the big overnight trip down the river. Yesterday was an easy day and most of the day was spent resting and getting geared up for their big trip. Tomorrow night they will make their way back to base camp for a pizza party and one last night together before heading home. We will try to get some more kayak pictures up in the coming days for everyone to enjoy.
– Team EPIC –
Discover Kayak campers are doing great and have been having a blast on the water. They are all now American Red Cross CPR & First Aid certified! All of them have been very impressive and each of them have found success on the river in the whitewater kayaks. Monday was spent checking out the headwaters of the San Marcos River via the glass bottom boats on Spring Lake. The campers REALLY enjoyed this and learned a ton of cool information, you will have to ask your campers about this when they get home. All of them are now running class II rapids with confidence and are looking forward to the overnight trip starting on Friday. Today was spent learning some basic swiftwater rescue skills every kayaker should know and they enjoyed the hands on part of this class. We will try to get some pictures up for you guys tomorrow but for now everyone is doing well and having a blast.
Ultimate Arkansas campers are currently on their backpacking trip and we should have an update for you guys tomorrow about them.
– Team EPIC –
Saturday was a big day at EPIC Adventures where we welcomed two group of campers who arrived for the Discover Kayak 9 day and Ultimate Arkansas 12 day. After a rough start and arriving a little late for the pickup in Austin the Ultimate Arkansas campers made it to their first camp around 6:00 pm. Yesterday was spent learning how to use the backpacking stoves, water filters, and how to set up tents. After lunch they took a small hike up to a swimming hole in the backcountry. Today they will start their backpacking trip and will be backpacking about 27 miles this week!
The Discover Kayakers have quickly become a tight knit group of campers whom are a really fun and laid back group. The first full day of camp was spent kayaking down the river in sit-on-top kayaks getting used to the feel of the water and getting their feet wet. Today they are headed to the Spring Lake and the glass bottom boats to discover the headwaters of the San Marcos River. After lunch they will hit the river again to take on the whitewater kayaks with Ben. Most of the day will be filled learning some kayak lingo and how to “roll” their kayak.
-Team EPIC –
We have a little catching up to do! We would like to say thanks to all of the Texas Adventure 12 Day campers who have gone home. The trip was a success and everyone seemed to have a great time despite a few bumps along the way. The backpack trip went well and everyone made it to the top! After several nights in the mountains they made their way back down and had a great time at a local restaurant with AMAZING views of the surrounding mountains. Campers were excited to get a cooked meal and to celebrate their accomplishments. Great group of campers who did an amazing job overcoming any obstacle placed in front of them. We are very proud to say we had the opportunity to hang out with such a great group of teens!
We have not forgotten about pictures and are working to get them together so we can share the trip with everyone.
– Team EPIC –