Friday, September 24, 2004

High Water New

This would be my second trip to Gauley Fest (Suzi and I had gone the year before). But it would be the first time boating. Josh, Ian and I met very early Friday morning at Sylvia’s place in Manassas and piled into the van. Our plan was to do a high water run on the New River Gorge that day and then meet Mark for the Gauley Sat and Sunday.

We arrived in Fayetteville and headed to the put in. When we got there we were surprised to see the parking lot completely empty. Not a single person was there. We knew there wouldn’t be many people running the New that day (at the takeout we found it to be around 12 feet on the Fayette Station gauge) but this was odd. Shortly after another group pulled up and we asked if they’d be able to give us a ride back. Sure they said.

We put on to a much different river than I had seen before. I had run the New twice before, once at about 5 feet and once around zero. I was excited to get to do another high water run. Josh had been a raft guide on the New and knew the river well so I felt confident everything would be fine.

As usual with high water the rapids where much different. Mostly I was big holes and waves, great fast fun. We got to the Keeney’s and scouted. Whale Rock was now the monstrous Whale Hole. I did not get the chance to take a picture of it but here is one at a slightly higher level from AW:

Whale Hole (Different day : 14.7 feet)

Starting on river right the line was easy. The eddy fence on the side of the hole made it difficult to end up in the hole unless you were to come at it over the top. But the line did take you right next to it. It was incredible to see the monster and hear its roar as we paddled on by, through big waves and into the large eddy on the right. This eddy was completely full of an incredible amount of debris. Huge logs and trash as far as the eye could see.

The run was great fun. Fast, but not difficult. Josh knew the lines well so we didn’t have to worry about getting caught in some monster hole. After a short time we arrived at Greyhound. We could see the spray as we approached. As usual we punched the far river right side of it and stopped to look. The view was truly awe inspiring. Instead of the river wide hole that is there at normal levels we saw a huge pulsing wave. The roar was incredible as it crashed down. There where moments where the foam pile would completely disappear and it would green out into a huge fan. It was amazing to watch.


We got out and took a break. The people we were getting a ride from where paddling Shredders and where taking their time as well. Eventually though they past us and we let them go. Josh and Ian took turns trying to surf the Greyhound while I took pictures and video. It was difficult to get on but Ian managed one ride. He rode the surfers left shoulder into the meat and began a very bouncy front surf. A moment later the wave crashed on top of him and he disappeared. “It ate Ian!”. Quite impressive. He emerged a bit downstream and paddled back up.

Ian surfing at Greyhound

The rest of the run went quickly and we headed to the takeout. Ian and I hung out at Fayette Station while Josh managed to hitch a ride back to the put in. Next we decided to check out the New River Dries. When we arrived we found that the level was really too low for the epic waves that the Dries is famous for. Nonetheless the boys took some time to play a bit. I decided it wasn't worth getting wet again so I just watched. Once they'd had enough we packed up and headed to town for some well earned BBQ and to wait for Mark who was meeting us for the Gauley portion of the trip.

New River Dries - low water

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