The Whitewater Spirit

kayak runs waterfall

Erin Savage of Appalachian Voices runs North Carolina’s Horsepasture River. Photo by Toby MacDermott

Although kayaking is often seen as a male-dominated sport, women have always been a part of the whitewater world. The accomplished paddlers featured on the following pages are making a positive impact on the region’s rivers and paddlers — leading river clean-ups or helping to shape environmental policy, mentoring the next generation of boaters, sharing the joys of the river with veterans, and fostering a thriving paddling community.

At Appalachian Voices, the nonprofit advocacy organization that publishes The Appalachian Voice, Central Appalachian Program Manager Erin Savage belongs in the ranks of these women. Savage leads the organization’s work to fight the impacts of coal mining and push for tighter regulations, helping to protect communities, land and water from mining pollution. Outside of work, Savage explores challenging whitewater, organizes and competes in kayak races and serves on the board of the nonprofit group American Whitewater.

“I’m lucky to be able to involve my love of rivers both within and beyond my work life,” Savage says. “I’m grateful to use my career skills and river experience to benefit multiple nonprofit organizations.”


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