Your WNC ambassadors : Jason and Samantha Miller and Mitch Bearden

Our names are Jason and Samantha Miller. We live in Tega Cay, which is just outside of Charlotte and a 25 minute drive to the US National Whitewater Center. We travel all over the Southeast to get our paddling fix, and spend a lot of time in Western North Carolina. There is no better place in the summer time for sure than the gorge! In the fall it is time for the West Virginia’s finest and we spend all our weekends on the Gauley. We have lived a few places. From the Northeast, Buffalo and Jersey to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but the Charlotte area is the best. Three hours from the mountains and three hours to the beach when the surf is good! We are both engineers one Civil and one Chemical so look out. We got into kayaking in college when we took a rafting down the Lehigh and decided we needed a bigger challenge. We took some classes but it was not until we moved to Baton Rouge, LA that the kayak bug really hit us. We got adopted by a great group of paddlers in Louisiana, seems whitewater paddlers exist everywhere, even the swamp. We started calling our group the NOKers (New Orleans Kayakers), a group who loves to paddle and drive together. Our “local” river, the Coosa was a mere 5 ½ hours away in Alabama, we would frequently trip there to paddle. We also hit the Locust and Mulberry Forks, both great late winter /early spring runs. When the South was hit hard by drought in 2007 we decided to visit Charlotte to see the USNWC. It was truly love at first sight for both of us. After a long weekend, we decided we needed to move to Charlotte and make it our home. Paddling has become a great part of our lives together as a couple. We have traveled to several countries to paddle. We have been to the Ottawa, where we had an amazing paddling experience with EJ and Emily Jackson. We also went on paddling trip with NOC to Jamaica for our honeymoon. Each new river helps us to grow both as individuals and builds a greater bond between us. Some our favorite rivers include the Nantahala, Mulberry, Pigeon, Ocoee, Gauley, and the Ottawa. We are always up for checking out new play spots and paddling rivers we have never done before. But it is tough to beat Eternity Hole and the NOC wave.


My name is Mitch Bearden.  I’m originally from Atlanta, GA but now live in Cullowhee, NC where I study Marketing at Western Carolina University. Cullowhee is an incredible location for all kinds of whitewater. Cullowhee is the nearest town to Eternity Hole (10 minute drive) and is also pretty close the North and West Forks of the French Broad, Upper Whitewater, Upper Chattooga, and even some Smokies runs such as Big Creek.  It’s a great area to call home!  I started paddling about 6 years ago and have really fallen in love with the water as well as the whitewater community.  I really enjoy creek boating as well as play boating. Some of my favorite runs/play spots are the Green Narrows, Upper Big Creek, Rocky Broad, Gauley, Eternity Hole, and Columbus, Georgia’s new park.  I look forward to growing as a WK ambassador as well as a better paddler in the coming years!

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