Friday, November 16, 2012
(October 15, 2012)
I started off a new career move with an epic White Water Rafting adventure! The weekend rafting trip had been planned by my very close friends Kevin and Rachel who had gone the year before, and it just so happened to be the weekend after I quit my job of 10 years to pursue a dream job. They booked it for mid-September which is the prime time to raft this river. In September and October each year, the Summersville Dam releases a set amount of water, which happens to be the perfect amount to turn the Gauley River into world-class white water. In the spring, snowmelt and rains bring the Lower Gauley to fantastic, high water levels. So we had been looking forward to this adventure all year!
Kevin, Rachel and Emily picked me up Friday morning for the 4 hour drive to West Virginia where we were meeting a couple other friends, Dave and Robert. Dave booked a cabin not far from the rafting company, Ace Adventure Resort, and we planned on enjoying the evening with some cold beers, good food, a hot tub and awesome company! We made sure we didn’t celebrate too much as we were getting up nice and early for a full day of awesome rapids.
Bright and early Saturday morning the group of us drove to Ace and signed in, listened to a briefing of the river and safety instructions, grabbed our gear and got on the bus to be hauled to our drop in point on the river. I honestly can say I think the bus ride was by far the scariest I have ever been on. Picture a huge old school bus switchbacking up a steep, narrow, mountainside with quite a long dropoff…and of course I happened to be sitting on the dropoff side. But I survived and it just got my adrenalin pumping even more for the days’ events.
Once stopped safely, we clambered off the bus and got in our groups, were introduced to the various river guides, our photo/videographer, and waited on more instructions. There were 6 other groups on the trip with us. Our group of six were on a boat to ourselves guided by Ree, who was a strong guide with a great personality and sense of humor. We introduced ourselves, had a few laughs, grabbed our raft and walked it down to the drop in point and off we went!
The Lower Gauley took us about 6 hours to raft down. The 11.5 mile river took us through over a dozen rapids, all of which were class 3-5’s. Halfway through we docked on the shoreline and had some lunch and a nice break to stretch our muscles out and prepare for a few more class 5 rapids. The first rapid took out one of the rafts, flipped it over with everyone in it, including the guide. Glad I made it through that first one without a hitch and someone else took one for the team. Rachel and Dave went swimming as we steered our way through Koontz Flume. Kevin got Rachel back in the raft and Dave was picked up by another group then brought safely back to us. Another raft got pinned and flipped during a class 5 rapid, one got severely pinned on Indecision Rock and it took them over 30 minutes to free the raft. Our raft picked up 3 of the guys that got thrown out and we docked on the shore while waiting on the rest of the rafts. We all safely steered through our final class 5, Pure Screaming Hell, and brought our raft back to shore where it was loaded onto a trailer. Now the bus ride home wasn’t seeming so scary this go around, plus they had a cooler full of cold beers for us all waiting to enjoy the hour long treacherous ride back to the resort.
Once back at the resort we freshened up, got a few more drinks and some grub while waiting for our pictures and video to be done. They are quite good at fast editing so you can take your memories home with you that same day. We got to watch a bunch of other groups videos and chat with the awesome staff at Ace while waiting. Then once back at the cabin, the boys grilled while us gals prepped the table, made sure beer and wine were a plenty and then made sure the hot tub was still working ;-) That night we could really celebrate as we didn’t need to check out of the cabin till 11am.
All-in-all I had a great time and can’t wait to book again for next Fall where I’m going to do a Gauley Rafting Marathon and go both Upper and Lower Gauley (I hear the Upper is far more exciting and double the class 5’s!). And since I’ve probably bored you with words, here are some pictures that are sure to get your adrenalin pumping!