Take a country road to Fayetteville West Virginia in the Fall every year and you see will see beaters, vans, trucks, and trailers all full of boaters with kayaks and boats. It's like the coolest parade you've ever been too that comes to an end at the put in below the dam. It's probably what it would feel like if I ever get to go to a Super Bowl parade after the Falcons win. And on one weekend there's even more than usual. Out of the 6 weekends the Upper Gauley runs one more is a little crazier, a little busier, and a little wilder, Gauley Fest.
I think that the craziest part about Gauley fest is that it is so many good boaters there. Sure there is wine bags and coolers of beers but there are so many good boaters. I saw that boats from all over the country and just groups of guides from out west who haven't seen water in a month jumping up and down for the chance to get on the river. Kayakers who have the bombest of rolls.
Then you actually get to the river. There is the big five, but there is everything in between, they would be great rapids for any other river. Pillow Rock has to be my favorite. It's probably not why you think. There is a picture in my parents hallway of my dad R2 with his friend that has been hanging there for 20 years. I just saw the picture and had this thought in my mind of a rapid that had only white bubbling water. And this lived up to the hype. You hear the rapid and then you here the crowd roar and you know someone is going for a swim. The right to left line is just a hard paddle and you get closer and closer to the rock. This year I saw a group of Ocoee Guides I met at the first event RCO worked in the front row as I slapped the rock and the boat and myself bounced back but I bounced back a little to far.
Everyone hops of the rock for some literally to get off the rock and back to their boats to get the rest of the river, which includes Lost Paddle and Iron Ring are both great rapids as well. They are places that you do not want to swim. And the videos and photos from there are not as frequent because there is less places to hang out. But, the mass party on the river moves down to the final act, Sweets Fall.
Named after the first guy brave enough to run it not because of the sweet line that you can try to hit. We got a chance to run the Meltdown line, it is the far left line between a rock called Dildo and another rock that I am sure has a name but I cant remember. Our guide for the day Tyler, said there's about 50/50 chance we flip and the crowd will go crazy, but they'll also go crazy if we hit it. And when we nailed I haven't heard a cheer like that since a high school football game and then we even got someone up on Postage. At that point with the class five rapids behind you the party continues. Between the people up on the cliffs and the postage party it makes for a very cool sight.
Hopefully next year the festival will be back and we will get a chance to meet some more of ya'll!