Upper Gauley River White Water Rafting

Just got back from one helluva weekend in WV on the Upper Gauley River. Never having been to WV before I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, it was fantastically beautiful and everyone I met was super cool.

If you ever get a chance to go to the Upper Gauley for a rafting trip, TAKE IT! It is wicked awesome fun. Ask for Nate, one hell of a river guide, he really knows his stuff. http://www.gauley.com/

My buddy Brady invited me along on this trip that was supposed to be a big group of his other friends from the Columbus area, and it turned out it was me, Brady, Nate and another friend of theirs Patrick were all that made it out (for all of you that didn’t make it out, you totally suck and missed an awesome trip).

The travel portion of the trip was a bit of a nightmare. Went to sleep around 2 because I had to get a bunch of homework done and then pack (my day took an unexpected turn due to a client emergency), got up at 5 to go to the airport and there was a flight change notice waiting for me. This was just the first of many for the day. It went something like this:

  • Original flight schedule SFO – HOU – CRW
  • Changed at 4:29 AM SFO – HOU delayed by 2 hours, gonna miss the connection to CRW
  • Got on a new flight that took me from SFO – IAH – CRW that was only going to get me in about 2 hours later, not too bad.
  • Get to IAH and the flight to CRW is delayed by 3 hours, then cancelled.
  • Get on a new flight from IAH – CLT – CRW and get my bag transferred over to the new carrier
  • Another flight change, back onto Continental/United IAH – CRW, unfortunately my bag was now lost and I spent the next 6 hours trying to get someone to confirm that it would actually arrive with me in CRW (it had my tent, sleeping bag, etc. etc.)
  • Finally got into CRW (with my bag!) and picked up the rental and headed out.

At this point it’s 12:30 and I have to be up at 7AM for our rafting trip but I only have about 1 1/2 hour trip to the river rafting place.  Here’s a tip for anyone using a GPS in a rental car in a place they’re not familiar with NEVER NEVER EVER SELECT SHORTEST ROUTE.  I didn’t realize this was basically as the crow flies and was driving on WV-13 for about 2 hours.  To call this a road would really not be accurate.  It was a single track path through the forest frequently crossed by impromptu rivers and 50′ ponds.  If I wasn’t in a 4WD vehicle I would have been totally screwed.  I finally rolled into camp around 3AM.

I’d been watching the weather for the last few weeks, and it was looking awesome, 70’s and sunny every day. The week before the trip the forecast changed to 49 and raining, then 45, then 40, ultimately it was 39 freakin’ degrees out in the morning and raining. Ok, so that part wasn’t so awesome, actually it was colder than shit and fucking hard to get out of my sleeping bag (did I mention we were supposed to be camping?). So after dragging myself outta the truck (I upgraded to a Ford Escape so I didn’t have to set up my tent, which ended up being very lucky for me considering that WV-13 fiasco) and desperately trying to find some warmth we all got geared up in our slightly smelly, cold, damp, cold wetsuits and headed out for the river. The water was around 70 degrees and felt warmer because of the air temp, that was a huge plus. The rest of the day was one amazing class III, IV or V after another, in between incredible views of the canyon we were in. If the trip had been a week or two later the hillsides would have been bright with fall colors, but it was still pretty awesome, leaves were just starting to change and the temp of the air and water created this great fog rising off the river.

Seriously amazing day on the river, HUGE features and our guide kept us rocking through all of it where people taking almost the same line moments later would get tossed from their raft.  You might be thinking “but that’s part of the fun”, no, getting tossed from your raft in a class V is a little on the terrifying side.  Staying in your raft is fun.  Admittedly a huge adrenaline rush getting tossed outta the boat but I’ve spent enough time on, under and near the water to respect it and know that it will have its way with you if it wants to.  Best to not go out of your way to get smashed on the rocks.

All the pictures you see here are all tame and don’t do the river any justice, the reason: “MacKenzie! At the top of a 3/4 mile long class 5 is not where you should be taking photos, get ready to paddle!” ~ Nate.


I know, I know…

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