Gauley 2016 Trip Report

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    • #7523
      WillPaddle
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 69

      I am finally getting around to typing up a short Gauley River trip report.  We had 9 people join us this year for the Gauley and 5 of them were first timers.  We paddled the Lower Gauley on Saturday Oct 1st and some of us paddled the Upper on Sunday Oct 2nd.  The group consisted of myself, My son Andrew, Lee Harmon, Brandon Grimel, Ryan and Cindy Cullen, and 3 boaters from Arkansas, Mike, Dave and Curtis.  So cool that Ryan and Cindy joined us this year.  It was great to have some other MWA paddlers with us on the awesome river.  They were both first timers to the Gauley and really excited to paddle some big water.  Mike From Arkansas had paddled with us last year and totally loved the river.  He was probably more excited than anyone to be back in WV.  He brought along Super Dave who we had paddled with before on our Alabama trip 2 years back and a brand new boater Curtis. I had never met Curtis so Friday after they arrive I started talking to Mike about Curtis’s skills.  Much to my dismay this trip to the Gauley was Curtis’s first trip on a free flowing river.  I was more than a little concerned.  He was only going to paddle the Lower G both days but there are still some seriously big rapids and always some dangerous areas if you swim or just generally are in the wrong place.  I was told he had been to the Oklahoma City White Water Park and that he had done really well.  He had a roll and was confident on the water.  To make a long story short Curtis did very well..  I was thoroughly impressed with his skills and I’ll share some more about his paddling  later in this report.

      So we arrive Friday early.  We had time to drive over to the New river and drive down below the New river bridge and check out Fayette Station rapid.   As a paddler the whitewater of the New river is pretty awesome and as an engineer to look at the massive New river Steel arch bridge I am even more inspired.  It is one of my favorite places just to hang out and forget about life.   On our way out of the canyon we always like to stop by the Ace Whitewater store.  Lots of cool stuff in there even if you are just looking around.  I only bought some Sex Wax paddle wax this year.  We then went on to eat dinner at Pies and Pints in Fayetteville WV.  We had a great time and we all anxiously looking forward to the trip.

      Ryan and Cindy showed up early Saturday Morning.  They drove all night after leaving St. Louis after work Friday.  Apparently they arrived at the Battle Run campground at 4:00 a.m. only to find the campground gate was closed.  Low and behold did they know it was not locked they could have easily opened it and drove in, but instead decided to drive down the Gauley Putin and sleep in the car for 3 or 4 hours before meeting us later that morning.

      They should up around 9 a.m.  We briefly talked about shuttle and was prepared to leave by 10 a.m. As we headed to the river we pass a local firehouse (just like last year) where they were making apple butter.  We bought one jar last year and everyone was stoked to stop by after a hard day on the river to pick up some apple butter again this year.  After shuttle we were ready to put on around 11:30.  The excitement was high and we had the perfect day.  Temps were low 70’s mostly sunny and the water was warm.  I am not going to give rapid by rapid breakdown as I don’t want to drag this out but the first big rapid is class 5 koontz’s flume.  We all stopped and scouted so everyone had a good view of what to expect and what to avoid.  I explained my line and everyone was prepared to follow.  I love the Gauley because no matter how much you remember the last time you were on the river it is always bigger than you remember.  Koontz’s didn’t disappoint.  As I eddied out on river right below the rapid I watched as everyone came through.  I saw Curtis flip and was immediately concerned.  He attempted his roll 3 times before he rolled up.  I was still really concerned about his day on the river and was going to keep a close eye on him.  But in reality that was the las time he flipped all day.  He was a solid paddler and totally fell in love with WW paddling (especially the Gauley river).

      Rapid by rapid we made it down river.  All went well.  We were have a great time.  Until we get to Upper and Lower Staircase.  This was a memorable rapid last year because Lee led us down this rapid and he swam on Lower Staircase.  We stopped above the rapid and gave a Lee a second chance to redeem himself.  Previous paddlers loved this rapid and had everyone jacked up about the giant roller coaster waves they were about to encounter.  The rapid did not disappoint and Lee had a successful run down both rapids.  Everyone was all smiles after that one and were just loving a glorious sunny October day on the Lower G.  We continued on down to the last Rapid Pure Screaming Hell.  Pretty challenging rapid Class 4-5 with giant Hell hole at the bottom river right.  We had one minor issue near the bottom with a swim but we all managed to get to shore on river left and climb up on some jumbo house size rocks for our celebratory shot of whiskey to celebrate another successful run.  I will post the video soon after this post.  After the run we did stop and get some WV Apple butter and it did not disappoint.  Heavy on the cinnamon and the Red Hots.

      Fast forward to Sunday Morning.  Myself Andrew, Mike, Ryan and Cindy were pumped to the Upper G run.  It is a challenging super hard run with 5 class 5 rapids.  As trip leader I take this run very serious but was also really excited to show my 20 yr old son Andrew down as well as Ryan and Cindy.

      All went well.  We put on at 8:30.  The water was warm again and the sky a little overcast.  Everyone was in large volume boats.  I was in a medium Mamba, Andrew a small Mamba, Mike in a Large Karma, Cindy was in a Mamba as well.  I think Ryan was in a Karma but not sure.  The first Class 5 was Insignificant.  I had a bad run here last year and was determined to do better this year.  My run was perfect as was everyone else.  It was big though and definitely gets your respect.  The next big class 5 was Pillow Rock.  This is a massive 30 foot drop over maybe 75 yards.  We got out to scout as I was wanting to improve my run from last year on this rapid as well.  Everyone was wide eyed.  It was huge as it always is.  We took some pics and then headed back to our boats.  We put on and ferried out to the center eddy.  I ran first and was dialed in on my line.  All the way past Pillow rock until I got to what is call the Toilet Bowl.  Not sure what happened.  It looks like I rolled left but in reality I just got swallowed by the wave.  I got chundered a bit and then rolled up.  I saw Andrew come down the rapid upside down and as he tried to roll his leg came out of the thigh hook and immediately burst his skirt and swam.  As I looked back up stream I say Cindy come over Volkswagon stern first.  She made it through unscathed though.  Ryan had his hands full but made a successful run and made it look easy.  Mike booted off Volkswagon and had a huge smile on his face.

      We continued down stream laughing and impressed with the power of Pillow.  The next big rapid is Lost Paddle.  I’ll have to admit after run this rapid 6 times, it gives me the willy’s primarily because of the danger involved.  It is 1/4 mile long rapid with 4 individual drops and lots of undercut rocks along the way.  It is a serious class 5 rapid.  I was determined to take a new route called the creek line through second drop in order to lesson the pucker.  Shortly above the rapid we ran in to Peyton Love of Ace Whitewater.  He is there video boater and extremely funny.  I asked him about the creek line and he said he would show us where to go.  We all ran the first drop well and eddied out on river left.  Peyton pointed to the entrance for the creek line and proceeded down river.  I pointed out the line for the second drop and Mike, Ryan, and Andrew eddied out down river on the left just above the second drop and get out to scout.  Cindy and I took the creek line and waited below the rapid for them to run.  All went well and we headed down stream through the 3rd drop.  We got out again to scout the 4th drop called Tumblehome because again I wanted to try a new route I saw Slim run two years ago that I thought would have been easier.  Turned out it was not so easy so we all stuck with the traditional line without issue.

      We paddled down to Iron Ring.  It is a short but powerful class 5 and again we got out to scout.  I had run a new line last year that was super easy and I wanted to run it again this year.  Everyone agreed to follow.  It didn’t go as well as last year I was about 2 ft further right than last year and took quite a big hit on my way through.  Everyone made it through unfazed but again the size and power of the rapid definitely gets your attention.  Mike was usually the last one through the rapids and was starting to realize how hard the rapids were 3 people behind the leader.  Last year he had followed me down every rapid without issue.  This year though Iron Ring he was 4-6 feet too far left and and tool a serious chundering.  I think it shook him up a little.  The Gauley is never the same two runs in a row.  Mike was learning that.

      On down to Sweet’s Falls our last class 5 on the upper.  This rapid is challenging because the line is invisible from above.  You don’t know if your on line until the lip of the drop and by then it is too late.  I have been 50/50 on this rapid, taking some serious beatdowns in the past.  This year I was determined to perfect my line.  My line was perfect (I suppose) but somehow ended up on River left at the bottom just above Postage Due Rock.  Ideally we wanted to be on river river like the last 6 times down.  Cindy and Andrew followed me not knowing they shouldn’t have.  I calmly paddled up the top of the eddy and was going to ferry across the river.  At this point I was really getting tired and my muscles were started to feel sluggish.  I started my ferry and the powerful water quickly turned me down stream.  Now I am heading for a pin into the face of Postage Due rock.  I new this wasn’t going to be good.  I leaned hard downstream into the rock and pushed myself away from the rock to keep from flipping.  I ended up going left around Postage Due.  There are hundreds of videos on Youtube showing rafts going left at Postage Due.  Lots of Carnage in there and always several video boaters on River left to catch the actions.  As I am heading Left I look up and See Peyton Love video taping me from above hoping for some carnage.  there are two shoots immediately behind Postage Due.  The first is just large enough for a raft to get through and the second is not.  It is commonly referred to as the Poop shoot.  I missed the first chute and almost eddied out between rocks on the left.  Now that I was facing Peyton and his camera on the rock above, I raised my arms and gave thumbs up as I went through the Poop Shoot Backwards.  I yelled “What’s Up Peyton”  It was a little embarrassing, but I got a good laugh at myself afterwards.  I’ll try and post a video of that as well.  Andrew made the ferry and not sure what happen to Cindy but she ended up following me down the left side around postage due.  Not sure if she took the first chute or the second unless Peyton got it on video.

      We got out on river left at Sweets and took a grand view from above of this awesome rapid.  Turns out Mike was the last to go through again and seemed to have lost his way.  He was way to far right again and ended up paddling into Energizer hole for another scary moment.  He reiterated how much he enjoyed following right behind me last year and how different things were this year 3 boaters back.

      We headed down stream to meet up with the other half of our group at Woods Ferry.  Ryan and Cindy had had enough and took out to start their trip back home.  They both had to work Monday.  The rest of us headed down stream.  Myself, Andrew and Mike were going to complete what is called the Gauley Marathon.  The Upper and Lower Gauley all in one day.  26 miles of whitewater and over 53 named rapids.  It is definitely a Bucket Lister.  So happy I got to do that with my son.  I told him I don’t know how many more years and can make it down the Upper G.  Sooner or later I will have to just stick to the lower.  The rest of the trip was awesome.  Rapid after rapid was nothing but smiles.  IT really is one of my favorite trips.  IT is beautiful, challenging, with crystal clear warm water.  There is no place I would rather be in October.

       

      • This topic was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
      • This topic was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
      • This topic was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
    • #7528
      DAVID DICKSON
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 49

      Great report! The Gauley is awesome. I’m looking forward to seeing the videos!

      Dave D.

    • #7530
      WillPaddle
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 69

      https://youtu.be/b7gfOTBp5k4

      https://youtu.be/tcGtUiLUEXM

      https://youtu.be/bscUZ8syxAM

       

      • This reply was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
      • This reply was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
      • This reply was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
      • This reply was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
      • This reply was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
      • This reply was modified 7 years, 4 months ago by WillPaddle.
    • #7542
      DAVID DICKSON
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 49

      Awesome vids!  Thanks

    • #7554
      WillPaddle
      Participant
      • Total Posts: 69

      Not sure why this links don’t come up as full video.  It has worked for me in the past.  Here are the last two.  The first is the Creek Route at Lost Paddle .  Also called the Cheat route.  From below you can see how huge the full drop is.  Also is the full edit of my run down Sweet’s Falls.  The line on the rapid was good but I blew my ferry across the river.  Some fun commentary after the fact.

      https://youtu.be/Nj5pGoi_mFA

      https://youtu.be/PbyqwJnzVAw

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