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The Cheoah Double XX Paddle

We had 24 women and four dogs ready for the day! Photo by Sara Ruhlen
We had 24 women and four dogs ready for the day! Photo by Sarah Ruhlen

The highlight of my spring used to be the annual all-girl paddle on the Cheoah River that was part of North Carolina’s now defunct BoaterChick Festival. I met most of my current female paddling network at the Cheoah paddle and so it was an event that I could not let go when the BoaterChick Festival had run its course. This year I renamed the event the Double XX (two events for those with two X chromosomes) and set about to invite all the paddling chicas that I know.

The unusual site of women dominating the boat ramp above the lower Cheoah River.


On April 15th, 2016, 25 paddlers ranging in age from 14 to 50 launched on the Cheoah. The large group was split up into three smaller groups divided to evenly spread abilities and to maximize networking potential. When I was organizing the event, I was trepidatious that the paddlers would not want to split from their friends. On the contrary, all the participants were happy to meet and paddle with new friends. The best part of the Double XX is that the type of women who attend are willing to break out of their  normal routine. My kind of people!

Andriene Levknecht and Stephanie Metzger are all smiles at the bottom of Bear Creek Falls. Photo by Nikki Malatin
Charli Kerns setting a high standard for boofing. Photo by Nikki Malatin

The paddle down the Cheoah was mostly uneventful. The front group did have to wait a bit for all the groups to gather at the put in for the more technical lower section of the Cheoah. Next year, I will have all groups just continue down the river and have dedicated front safety and dedicated sweep. Thank you all for your patience and I appreciate the honest feedback. After scouting Bear Creek Falls (A.K.A. ‘the big one’) with first timers, all groups safely completed the run.



Twelve girls then put their game face on and ran a ‘go fast’ lap of the last two miles of the river. This section is a gem of continuous Class IV whitewater that is a perfect race course. The official race is in October this year and this was a chance for the boaters to get some practice. A had a vision of a group of women throwing down on the Cheoah and it came true! I cannot wait to do it again next year.

Adriene Levnecht building the stoke level for the go fast lab by leading the count down to the start. Photo by Nikki Malatin

After the go-fast lap, we gathered at the welcoming Tapoco Lodge for some delicious libations provided by Hi Wire Brewery and some spot-on prizes donated by Pyranha Kayaks (have you seen the 9R?), Sweet Protection, Astral Designs (have you tried their new sandals?), and Mountain Khakis.  I want to thank Sarah Ruhlen of Catalyst Photography and Trinity for pictures and logistical support.


Andria Davis at Bear Creek Falls. Photo by Nikki Malatin

I also  want to thank the group leaders, sweep, and safety volunteers, especially those who come on board year after year. The trip could not happen without all of us pulling together.

There was no fee or fund-raising associated with this event. The Double XX is a chance to connect the network of female boaters who enjoy Class IV (and V!) whitewater. To me, the Double XX is like getting married. Sure, it is a fun party, but the real payoff lasts for years and years.  Are you working up to the Cheoah, but still want to network? Check out Anna Levesque’s Ladies Southeast Paddling Series. The series starts in May on the Tuckaseegee Gorge and ends up with a trip down the Lower Gauley in September. If you are a total badass, consider joining Laura Farrell’s Green River Takeover on August 27th, 2016. Contact Laura through her blog, Living the Liquid Lifestyle. If you want to attend the Cheoah Double XX next year, send me a message on Facebook or email me at . I will make sure you get the information for the next event.

Stay tuned for information about Crystal Gustin and Katie Dean’s playboat/slicey boat day on the Pigeon River. This come-out-and-play day will be on July 9th. Get into your little boat and paddle until your arms fall off. We will have some great prizes, refreshments, outstanding coaching, and just a fun time gettin’ vertical.