The Vermont Paddlers Club

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GAULEY FEST 2015

Thursday-Tuesday Sep 17-22, 2015
Participants:
Kayak: Ben Schott, Catharine Schott
Organizer: Ben Schott
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium

Ben and I ventured forth to MD and then WV all on our own this fall.  We left VT on Thursday evening...I curled up in the back of the Volkswagen, sniffling, coughing, and generally feeling sorry for myself having just come down with a cold and come off three night shifts as Ben cheerily drove forth through the night.  After 10 hours of sleeping for me, and 10 hours of driving for Ben we arrived in Friendsville MD.  Thankfully the water for the Upper Yough doesn't turn on until 10 AM and takes 2-3 hours to reach the put in for the river, so there was time to catch a few hours sleep for Ben and a few more for me before chugging some Dayquil (me) and some beers (Ben) and putting on the river. 

The water for the Yough was a gentle fall level of about 2 feet, and the warm water and 75 day made it hard not to smile.  There was a feeling of generalized chaos as what seemed like a million kayakers and commercial as well as private rafts bombed down the tight lines.  Aside from the one rapid I ran on my head and getting a little too friendly with the hole at National Falls, it was (thankfully) a fairly uneventful run. 

We got off the river late in the afternoon, and started making our way south to Summersville WV.  We got pulled into the giddy energy of Gauleyfest as we approached the grounds.  There were hundreds of cars with boats on them and hundreds of grubby looking paddling folks of all ages.  After a brief chat with Bob Nasdor (who was volunteering with the parking crew) about current affairs in NE boating we made our way into the fest.  We connected with a Kayaking buddy of ours from Texas and a couple of his friends (yes, there is apparently WW in Texas, and quite possibly even 6 kayakers who live there). 

Saturday was an amazing day on the Upper Gauley.  I had never run this section in my own boat, Ben vaguely remembered the lines for some of the rapids, and our small crew of Texans had no idea what was going on.  There was a lot of boat scouting, eddy hopping, and hoping.  Thankfully there were literally hundreds of other boaters on the river...If you wern't sure of where to go you could sit at the top of the rapid and watch how others fared (or failed) and choose your line from there.  

We did opt to scout/watch the carnage/heckle/take a nap at Pillow Rock for an hour or so, and scout Iron Ring.  We all survived the Gauley without major incident, and after hiking our boats about a 1/2 mile straight uphill to get to the car at the takeout we made our way back to the festival grounds and the party that awaited. 

Ben and I spent 2 hours on Saturday evening volunteering at the back gate, selling bracelets.  We discovered a great perk to the "no glass" rule at the fest...you get to drink the beers that you confiscate. 

The Texas crew took off Sunday AM to begin their long trek home, and we headed back to the Gauley for more fun.  This time, we got to paddle with a UVM student/friend of ours from Georgia as she took her virgin run down, and I got to try out a new to me Pink Karma that I had bought the night before.  Although the release level was the same as the previous day, the rapids seemed significantly smaller and more manageable now that we had a better idea of where not to be on the river. 

We discovered an amazing Mexican restaurant in Summersville that evening and then made our way back north to Friendsville for Yough round #2. 

Monday was significantly less crowded on the Yough...The bright sun finally got overtaken by clouds and rain and I found myself thinking longingly of my drysuit that was in California getting repaired.  Ben and I spent a low key day paddling with just the two of us.  Ben took advantage of this time to give me some much needed pointers, and I was able to relax enough to play around and hone my skills. 

After such a great 4 day weekend, we dragged our feet getting back to Vermont, and finally arrived home on Tuesday AM, feeling accomplished and tired. 

 

 

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