Thursday, January 22, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday: Rafting the Gauley River!

One thing you will probably hear a lot about on this blog (especially as summer approaches) is whitewater rafting.  When I met John, he shared this passion of his with me – and I absolutely love it!  I am no expert by any means, but he has taught me a lot and I can only hope to improve with every trip we take.
This is from a trip down the Nantahala River - it was my first time paddling!
In October of last year we took a trip to West Virginia to raft the Upper section of the Gauley River with both of our families – 10 people total in 2– and it was honestly the most fun we’ve ever had!  The Gauley is known as the ‘Beast of the East’ and for good reason – it is made up of class 3-5 rapids, and is one of the most popular advanced whitewater runs in the Eastern US.

We took our trip with a company called Class VI and had an amazing experience – both of our groups had fantastic guides and the company took really good care of us – if you are looking into this I would highly recommend them!  They provided all of the gear, gave great instruction, made sure everyone came off the river in one piece, fed us, and gave us beer when we were done (huge plus there!).

(From Wikipedia) There are dozens of rapids on the Upper Gauley; the most notable are the "Big Five":
  • Insignificant (Class V - ironically so named because the first expedition reported "nothing significant before Pillow".)
  • Pillow Rock (Class V - accessible via a steep trail from Carnifex Ferry Battleground site. Extremely powerful and intimidating rapid.)
  • Lost Paddle (Class V - a long, treacherous rapid consisting of four sub-rapids: First Drop, Second Drop, Third Drop, and Tumblehome.)
  • Iron Ring (Class V - so named for a large iron ring which had been anchored in a rock near the rapid by loggers many years before. The ring was cut and removed by vandals in the 1980s.)
  • Sweet's Falls (Class V - named for John Sweet, a canoeist and pioneer of Gauley rafting in 1972.

Now, I don’t recommend doing a river this intense as your first run, but if you can start small (and safely) whitewater rafting is a great sport!  You can plan a trip with friends and have a company take you down the river (which is absolutely best for first timers) whitewater kayaking is also a big thing for individual boaters.  Don’t be fooled though, a river is not “Disneyland for adults” and needs to be highly respected – it can be very dangerous.  It is a great outdoor activity and will trick you into getting a really good workout – you use a lot of muscles you may not have even realized you had.  Another bonus, it is always such a beautiful experience – the rivers are always really pretty with great scenery – the Gauley was absolutely breathtaking especially because all the leaves were changing for fall.

Have you ever done any whitewater rafting or kayaking? Tell me about it! I would love to hear your experiences :-)

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