Tuesday, August 23, 2005


From late August to mid September the level on the Potomac reached a low we hadn't seen in a few years. It got down to 2.6 feet and Horseshoe wave was in. We got in a few days of fun. Since Horseshoe requires some attaining and carrying to get to the line was usually nice and short. It was wonderful surfing right below the falls with the massive horseshoe hole roaring just above.

Hanging out at Horseshoe

Me at Horseshoe

Me at Horseshoe

Juliana looking pretty

It was also low enough to paddle around the flake and up to the Spout:

Me at the Spout


Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Dark Side

By the end of the summer Mark and I had decided that it was time for him to start working towards moving up here. We were getting tired of having to drive 3 hours to see each other every weekend and were ready to take the next step in our relationship.

Mark’s place in VA was about 2.5 hours from Fayetteville, WV. So going to the New was not a difficult trip from there. Since he’d be moving away we decided to try to get in as many trips to the New and Gauley that summer / fall as possible (the trip from DC is more like 6 hours so we wanted to take advantage while we could).

That winter Mark had turned over to the dark/dry side… he had become a climber!! Since the New River Gorge is also an excellent climbing area he wanted to get in a little of that while we were there. We did three trips to the NRG that summer. On the first trip the two of us checked out Kaymoor and ran the river. For more pictures see here.

Kaymoor, NRG

On the second trip Justin and his girlfriend Lissa joined us. We spent the first day on the river while Lissa went for a run. On the second day we climbed at Tattoo Wall. At the end of the day we headed down to the takeout and I got to get in my boat again and run Fayette Station and then did some cartwheel practice. It was a great weekend. As this isn’t a climbing journal I’m just going to put up a few pics. You can check out more here.

Mark at Lower Keeney

Mark and Justin figuring out routes

Mark about the pull the roof, Tatoo Wall, NRG

Me at Tatoo Wall, NRG

Me running Fatette Station, NRG

Cartwheel practice

The third trip was an all climbing trip that Mark had planned with some of his friends from VA. I didn’t really have much to do that weekend so I decided I’d go along. I wasn’t really much into climbing outdoors at the time I didn’t really want to spend two full days sitting around at the wall. So I convinced Justin (it didn’t take much) to paddle with me one day instead.

Tatoo Wall, NRG

Everything worked out great. We spent the first day at Tattoo Wall again. I mostly just hung out and took pictures. On the second day we dropped Mark off with everyone else at Summersville Lake for another day of climbing and headed to the Upper Gauley. It had been a while since I’d run it but I basically remembered the lines. I was able to easily recognize Initiation (easy class III with a deadly sieve if you run the right side) and we had no problems throughout the run. It was great being out on the river. At Lost Paddle we ran into Jimmy Blakeney of Team Wavesport and got a great guide down the rapid. We rejoined the rest of the gang at the lake and headed home.

Justin at the putin, Upper Gauley

On the way back we noticed that someone had put up a new billboard on Route 19, absolutely classic:

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Monday, August 01, 2005

Pink Power

In late June the T1 finally met its demise. The cracks around the seat bolts had finally expanded till they sheared through the plastic and I found myself gradually sinking on a LY run. As I am probably one of the few people who actually really liked the Transformer, it was rather difficult for me to switch to a new boat. But i knew that it was time to move on.

I had paddled Suzi's Pocket Rocket before and it was similar enough in general size and shape to my T1 that i figured I would probably be happy with it. Suzi let me borrow hers to try out and after a few trips I was sold. So I started searching the Boatertalk Gear swap. It wasn't hard there were half a dozen Pocket Rockets for sale. Funny thing was that there were no fewer than three PINK pocket rockets!! That was it! I was destined to have a pink pocket rocket. So I asked the sellers for prices and pictures and ultimately bought one from a guy in Florida. Go figure...He'd barely paddled it and only at the beach so it was in great shape.

The Pocket Rocket proved to be a good choice. It is more comfortable than the T1 and much easier to throw down. With a good bit of practice I was finally able to start learnign to do flat water chartwheels and bowstalls. I had gotten up to three points by the end of the summer.

MD Chute

Learning Cartwheels

At Horeshoe

By October I had also gotten up the confidence (or arrogance) to run the Upper Yough in my playboat. The Pink Power was ready to go. We planned to be there for both the Friday and Saturday releases. I optmistically only packed the Pocket Rocket. The first run needed to go well or i'd be playing shuttle bunny.

First playboat run on UY

Mark had been considering hand paddling but I insisted that he needed a stick in case he needed to rescue me. We met Scott A. at Friendsville so at least we had one more person for support. The first run went surprisingly well. Much of the river actually felt easier as I was more comfortable in the playboat. I missed the boof at Bastard and got a bit of a beatdown but didn't let it get to me. Some of the larger drops presented greater fear factor but overall I felt mostly fine. I had some trouble with getting stern squirted here and there but made it down with few further problems.

Running the Mushroom on UY

The second day went fairly well also. This time I nailed the boof at Bastard. Everything was going fine until we reached Fuckup Falls. The river was running low, about 1.6 on the Sang Run gauge. It was the lowest we'd run it at. The only place I had really noticed the difference was at F-Up. At the top of the drop you paddle throuh a fairly narrow channel in between two rocks and continue on down. The low level was causing a rock that was normally submerged to appear barely below the surface in the middle of the drop. I had seen it the day before and was able to avoid it. Unfortunately I forgot about by the 2nd day.

I like this rapid a good bit. It's technical but not terribly difficult and i'd never had any problems with it before. I was used to being able to paddle right next to one of the two rocks at the top as there was usually water going around the side of them forming a small cushion. At this level though this cushion did not exist. Where I normally would have slid right by I hit one of the rocks slightly instead. This pushed me to the left slightly. It wasn't a big deal and my corrective stroke would normally have been enough to get me going the right way again. Unfortunately this time it pushed me straight onto that partially submerged rock. Had I been in my creekboat I probably would have just bounced right over it. But it stopped the playboat dead in its tracks.

This of course immediately flipped me and I ended up running the rest of the rapid upside down, hitting every rock on the way down with my head and shoulders. I rolled up at the bottom disoriented and quite upset. That had been the most painful beatdown I'd ever had. After a few minutes of rest and time for the headache to subside I was fine. No injuries sustained. Overall i felt like the playboat runs went about as expected. I was glad to have had a chance to do it. :)

Surfing at Horeshoe Wave

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