Sierra Seniorita Diane Gaydos meets the Dirty South

Moving is always hard – new people, new logistics, new food, and of course NEW Paddling!  One of our more recent additions to Jackson Kayak, Diane Gaydos, just moved herself from California to Knoxville and has been posting a lot about her experiences.  I thought it might be fun to ask her a few of the questions our readers might want to hear answers to so we can give her a big Southern Hospitality welcome to the Southeast wherever you might meet her.   Welcome to the South Diane!

Who are you and what would you like our readers to know?
I am a female kayaker from California who recently transplanted to the Southeast. I am fun, approachable, and enjoy a wide variety of different difficulty levels and types of kayaking. I am always looking for something new and love to explore.

How do you define your boating style? Are you a creeker, racer, play boater… what?

I would describe myself as an all-around boater. I love adventure and variety. My favorite type of kayaking is self-support multi-day wilderness trips. There’s something so special about spending the night on the river and putting in the next day without resetting a shuttle. I love sleeping under the stars with the sound of the river rushing past, the memories of a great day, and the anticipation of the rapids that are downstream for tomorrow.

I know you’ve done expeditions and lots of hard runs in California – can you give us a brief list of your favorite rivers (anywhere) and why they are so special?

My favorite run in California is Dinkey Creek waterfalls. To me, this run is the perfect combination of a wilderness self support trip, a hike in that’s just long enough to make you work for it, and 2 days of amazing waterfalls and rapids. Another one of my favorite runs is the Kiyotsugawa in Japan. This run was amazing because it was in a gorgeous remote canyon with challenging rapids and had five different snow bridges that we paddled under. There was also a hot spring at the end, which in my opinion, should be a part of every take out!

How has moving to the ”Dirty South” affected your paddling? What are the difference to California kayaking?

Moving to Knoxville has been awesome! I love doing new rivers and by moving to a new place, almost every river I do is a personal first descent. The biggest different between the coasts is the micro climates. In the part of California where I’m from, if it’s raining in the valley then it’s raining or snowing in the mountains and you can figure out which rivers will be running by how hard it’s raining and how cold it is. In the south east though, it could be pouring in the city and dry at the rivers, or one river drainage could be running but the river 20 min east is dry. It takes a lot more research and investigation to know where to paddle. It also helps to know the right people who live by the runs and will check for you!

Who’s this Daniel Brasuell and why does he follow you around?

Daniel Brasuell is my fiancé, my boating buddy, and my support system. Meeting him during my first year of college, played a huge role in my growth as a paddler. He helped me step out of my comfort zone and realize how much I love adventure and doing new runs. He is great at researching and exploring, and I have him to thank for putting together all of the awesome international trips we have done together.

Do either of you do anything FOR kayaking and kayakers besides enjoy lots of wonderful places from a kayak?

But of course! In college, I taught weekly roll classes every spring. Now, I volunteer to teach various clinics several times per year. This weekend in fact, I’m volunteering to be a group leader for the Women taking over the Green Day. Daniel also has a kayaking website he created and maintains called This has run write-ups, shuttle maps, photos, and videos. He definitely does all of the hard work for this, but I take some of the photos and video, and of course am one of the main models!

What is your favorite kayak from your early history and how does it compare to your favorite kayaks of today?

My favorite kayak from my early paddling history was the Wavesport Siren. I got this boat right after I learned how to roll. It was perfect for me because the boat was playful and easy to maneuver. I learned how to stern squirt and surf, which helped me perfect my roll and kept me entertained.

How long have you been on the JK Team and what to you like about our company / kayaks?

I have been on the JK Team for 2 years now. My favorite part of the team is the camaraderie. Last fall I had several trips where I was flying to different parts of the country for interviews. And of course I had to kayak to make sure I liked the location as well as the job! JK team members were very helpful with letting me borrow boats and find groups to paddle with. Then, when I recently moved across the country, the Jk team again came through and helped me feel welcome and plugged in with my local community. Everyone is always laughing, joking, and having a good time. I love being a part of it!

Please brag about yourself here – I will act like I looked it up – give me some resume fodder of race results / first female descents etc or just anything at all you want to say / people to know about you.  It could be your profession, a passion for flyfishing, anything you like..

I won the Collegiate Nationals for freestyle kayaking my first year of college. I have won the women’s category of every downriver race I have ever entered except one (this is likely going to change at the Green race next week!). I have paddled in 10 different countries over 4 continents. I averaged about 100 days of kayaking a year over 4 years of medical school. I am now a DOCTOR (clay’s bold+underline, not Diane’s) and am in my first year of my family medicine residency program at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Thanks Diane!!  See you at Russel Fork and Green Race!

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