New River Gorge, low water

Thursday, September 21, 2006

River: New River Gorge, WV
Level: 2800 cfs (0.5 ft)
Paddlers: Me, Stephen, Jeremy

The local favourite for boaters in Fayetteville is a place called the Cathedral CafĂ©, which aside from having amazing breakfasts, also has free wireless internet connections for use. We love to go there, have breakfast and as Stephen would call it: “internetify”.

Today we arrived and saw at least three tables of boaters that we knew. Some from Fayetteville, and others from back home on the Ottawa River. Stephen, Jeremy and I had a great breakfast and made plans to paddle the New River Gorge later that day. After discussing shuttle options with some others and searching for neck gaskets, we ran shuttle and got ourselves on the river. The put in has a really steep stairway from the parking area down to the river, and Stephen declared how much fun it was to slide down the staircase in your boat. I was hesitant, but after watching him do it once and head back up for a second ride, I decided to give it a go. It was fast and fun!! I flew down the stairs and across a concrete part before hitting the water. Tomorrow I will do it again, but with video.

Today I paddled my brand-spanking new green Jackson Star, and we practiced drills that would help me conquer the Lower Gauley. Stephen had me practicing moving between rocks, leaning into rocks and paddling on edge. Jeremy decided to paddle his open boat, which we were excited about the possibility of a swim or some similar carnage. The river-run went very well. We took easy rapids, and made them harder by manoeuvring between rocks and catching eddies. Stephen would occasionally point at undercut rocks halfway down a specific rapid and freak me out. The worst, however was when he went halfway down a rapid to a horizon line, then turn around and look at me and shake his head vigorously. I interpreted it to mean that I wasn’t supposed to go that way, but it was too late for me to change my course. It turned out that he was shaking his head to tell me not to try a wave-wheel, and not because the rapid was scary. I told him never to freak me out like that again.

We didn’t see a single other person on the river, played in the whirlpools at Halls of Karma, and chatted with some locals standing on a bridge and aside from the cool air and wet clothes at the take out, was an overall good day on the river for me. Jeremy has this awesome Airstream van, and cooked us up some hot chocolate when we got off the river. The day ended with dinner at the local favourite for dinner in Fayetteville called “Pies n Pints”. We went there in the spring when we were here, and enjoyed Tuesday nights all you can eat Pizza. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever had better pizza (except maybe that awesome place in Vail, CO). I didn’t have pizza though as my stomach’s been bothering me, and ordered a horribly boring salad instead.

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