This is a guest post by my friend Hunter Doerr. He wrote this as a response to my last post Our deepest Fear? Elkhorn City can be Powerful … Beyond Measure! A Mini Manifesto on Economic Development in Elkhorn City, Kentucky.
As a kayaker and backpacker I’ve had the luxury of traveling to some really neat and amazing places. Some of which you mentioned above.
Last time I was at theNantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), I took off after work with a friend and drove the 4 hours to purchase a new kayak. While there we were dining in a really cool little restaurant over the river, it hit me. I’ve said along that Elkhorn City could be great, and we have discussed the possibilities for Elkhorn City, but sitting in this restaurant it really hit home. There is about a three hundred yard section of river that has been slightly tweaked to make the whitewater a little more ‘fun’. As we were eating we saw everything from a father teaching his very young son how to sit in boat, to advanced kayakers having a blast on the whitewater course. This change to the river is now the reason they host several national playboating competitions that bring in people from all over. The river flows under a bridge (almost identical to Elkhorn City’s layout) on either side of the bridge is the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), on the other side are the rafting companies and several places to stay the night. Everything from primitive camping to a nice cabin. As you drive upstream to the ‘put-in’, you pass at least 10/15 rafting companies that do great every summer and stay booked with business.
There are more restaurants and shops along the way as well. Sitting in this restaurant it really became apparent that not only can Elkhorn City do the exact same thing, but it’s crazy it’s not in progress already. We have everything the NOC has and even more in my opinion. The Russell Fork has it all, flat water activities like canoeing, and fishing. There is also some of the best whitewater in the country about ten miles upstream from Elkhorn City that people already travel to from other countries because of its beauty and challenge. Below that is a beginner/intermediate whitewater section as well. It’s like going to ski resort and having your choice of hitting the greens, blues, or blacks!! I really hope I am still around when Elkhorn starts to morph into one of these great little towns where the locals should be proud and share the towns attributes with everyone. Lets get on it!!!