I'm just back from my trip to West Virginia to paddle the Gauley River. It was a good trip. We got a late start, not leaving South Bend until about 6:30 and not rolling out of Indy until 10, which got us at the take-out of the lower at about 5:30am. I went from sleeping crumped up on the front seat of the van to sleeping on the ground under the stars. Hoffman was supposed to hook up with us at the Gualey but bailed, leaving him without a weekend of paddling and me without a place to sleep. Fortunately, my sleeping bag was warm and I was tired.
Saturday morning we paddled the Lower Gualey, a Class III big water run where a good time was had by all. The weather was cool but clear, though a little windy. It was a good run, though I was excited to hit up something a little more challenging the following day.
That night my sleeping situation improved, and I managed to snag a spot on the floor of a hotel room. Much warmer.
Sunday morning brought on the Upper Gualey. The Upper is a legendary run and a Southeast classic, with five big, pushy rapids, Insignificant, Pillow Rock, Lost Paddle, Iron Ring, and Sweet's Falls. I was a little nervous about the run, since I had heard lots of talk about it, but in the end it wasn't nearly as challenging as I was expecting. I had good lines on all of the major rapids, and only flipped on Pillow Rock. Some of the smaller unnamed rapids in between the big guys still had some bite to them, but our team managed all of them without too much trouble. Al swam below Sweet's Falls when his backband slipped on him, but fortunately he wasn't pushed into the surging, rocky slot benieth the falls.
Hopefully some photos and video will be forthcoming. As for now, it's time to blow the dust off of the old creekboat, as next weekend it looks like I'll be off to the Green Narrows.